News Feature | March 13, 2015

Hospital Ratings Vary On Rankings Websites

Katie Wike

By Katie Wike, contributing writer

Hospital Physician Ratings

When it comes to ranking the best and worst hospitals, the most popular ratings websites show vastly different results.

According to a recently released study, hospital rankings websites vary greatly in their ratings of hospitals. In fact, not a single hospital received top marks from all four of the most popular rankings websites.

“To better understand differences in hospital ratings, we compared four national rating systems. We designated ‘high’ and ‘low’ performers for each rating system and examined the overlap among rating systems and how hospital characteristics corresponded with performance on each,” explained researchers in Health Affairs.

The study looked at the websites Consumer Reports, Healthgrades, U.S. News & World Report, and The Leapfrog Group. According to iHealth Beat, they found rankings for 844 hospitals with 83 of them rated by all four websites. Of those that received high ratings on one site, only 10 percent of those same hospitals received high ratings on another site. Twenty-seven hospitals that received high marks from one website, earned poor ratings on another.

“The lack of agreement among the national hospital rating systems is likely explained by the fact that each system uses its own rating methods, has a different focus to its ratings, and stresses different measures of performance,” said researchers.

“We were expecting a lack of agreement on some level, but we were surprised by how little agreement there was overall,” said Matt Austin, an assistant professor at the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality at Johns Hopkins and lead author of the study said in Modern Healthcare.

“If each hospital is good and bad at different things, then each patient will want to use the ratings that most directly address his or her individual needs,” says Ben Harder, managing editor and director of healthcare analysis for U.S. News & World Report. “If just one rating system existed, they would have less information to use in choosing a provider.”