With so many rating systems and awards, hospital administrators and patients alike are increasingly frustrated and confused about which hospitals are the “best.”  According to an article by Kaiser Health News (KHN) in conjunction with The Philadelphia Inquirer, one-third of all U.S. hospitals received at least one distinction from a major ratings group or company last year.  In that case, a patient should have no trouble finding a great hospital, right?  Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

Each of the systems has a different way of measuring “quality” and considers different aspects of hospital care.  As a result, which hospitals are the best and worst depends on who you ask.  KHN cites St. Mary Mercy Livonia Hospital.  Healthgrades and The Leapfrog Group gave the hospital high marks while, for the same time period, The Joint Commission and U.S. News and World Reports left it off their respective best hospitals list.

To add to the fray, Consumer Reports released a guide this summer titled “How Safe is Your Hospital?”  This report focuses on hospital-acquired infections, overuse of CT scans, communication, readmission rates, and EHR utilization.  Consumer Reports concluded that hospitals have a lot of work remaining — on a 100-point scale, hospitals scored an average of only 49 points.

Historically, being named a top hospital was a significant honor.  Now, with so many awards to be won, it is less significant, and hospitals are less likely to shell out huge sums for licenses advertising the honor.  Hospital executives and marketing departments are thinking twice about the true value of such a license.

Our Insight.  Your Advantage.  Keep in mind that there is no perfect rating system available and systems often change criteria from year to year.  All honors and awards, whether your hospital is on the receiving end or not, should be taken with a grain of salt.  Winning a top hospital honor can be great for a hospital, but it is important for every hospital, even top hospitals, to continue to focus on improving quality year after year.