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Christiana Care joins national debate on hospital rankings at U.S. News summit

Dr. Timothy Gardner, (second from right) joins with other summit panelists at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York (from left) Brent James, M.D., chief quality officer and executive director, Institute for Health Care Delivery Research, Intermountain Healthcare; Peter L. Slavin, M.D., president, Massachusetts General Hospital; Sharon O’Keefe, president, University of Chicago Medical Center; Vinita Bahl, D.M.D., MPP, director of clinical information and decision support services, University of Michigan; Brian Kelly, U.S. News editor and chief content officer.

Christiana Care participated in a first-ever U.S. News & World Report national summit on hospital ranking systems held at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City on Sept 27.

Timothy J. Gardner, M.D., medical director of the Center for Heart & Vascular Health and director of the Value Institute, was invited to represent Christiana Care at the event, titled “Shaping Health Care Decisions: An Inside Look at Hospital Rankings.”

He joined leaders and specialists from the nation’s best hospitals and academic medical centers who discussed with top editors from the magazine the methodology behind the annual “Best Hospitals” rankings and how to make them even more useful for consumers. More than 124 representatives from leading hospitals across the country attended.

While panel members agreed the Best Hospital list from U.S. News is among the most comprehensive and useful available, they explored improvements to the methodology. Possible enhancements discussed include risk adjustment for socioeconomic factors and projected health outcomes, measurement of scientific and medical innovation, clinical trial participation, investment in and use of cutting-edge information such as genomics and overall patient experience.

“U.S. News needs to place a little less reliance on the reputation score component and find other metrics that are relevant, especially to patients,” said Dr. Gardner. “HCAHPS provides useful patient satisfaction data that U.S. News should consider adding,” he said. HCAHPS, or the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Health Care Provider and Systems, is a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services standarized 27-item survey that measures patients’ perceptions of their hospital experience.

Panelists and audience participants made it clear that rankings matter for hospitals and consumers. Rankings drive care improvements and give consumers important information upon which to base decisions. But, it was also evident that not all rankings measure the same things, essentially leaving to consumers the responsibility to examine what the various methodologies are designed to reflect.

“This is a critical conversation to shape the future of hospital rankings and ensure consumers have access to the full range of information they need to make informed choices about their care,” said Kenneth L. Davis, M.D., president and chief executive officer of The Mount Sinai Medical Center. “Rankings are just one part of the equation when it comes to consumer choice, but as millions of aging baby boomers seek specialty care, and 30 million more Americans enter the health care system, they are becoming increasingly important to the decision-making process.”

The summit featured three panel discussions, moderated by Brian Kelly, U.S. News editor and chief content officer, in which hospital executives explored how current rankings assess quality and what quantifiable data could complement and correlate to reputational criteria. They also discussed how the rankings could be expanded to respond to advances in technology and biomedical science, as well as the impact of socioeconomic status on health outcomes.

“There is a new kind of consumer very interested in diving deep,” said Kelly. “In our role as a data provider we want to take advantage of the flood of new health care data becoming available and do it in a responsive and responsible way.”

Avery Comarow, U.S. News Health Rankings editor, told the audience that the rankings are designed to help people who are “in trouble,” facing complex medical conditions requiring the finest specialty care. He noted that given new data sources, the time is at hand to create companion rankings for community hospitals delivering routine care, which makes up the lion’s share of health services today.

In addition to Dr. Gardner, summit panel participants included Meri Armour, president and chief executive officer, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital (Memphis, TN); Vinita Bahl, D.M.D., MPP, director of clinical information and decision support services, University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI); Steven J. Corwin, M.D., chief executive officer, New York-Presbyterian Hospital (New York, NY); Kenneth L. Davis, M.D., president and chief executive officer of The Mount Sinai Medical Center (New York, NY); Brent C. James, M.D., MStat, chief quality officer and executive director, Institute for Health Care Delivery Research, Intermountain Healthcare (Salt Lake City, UT); Bradley J. Narr, M.D., chair, department of anesthesiology and chair, surgical and procedural committee, Mayo Clinic (Rochester, MN); Sharon O’Keefe, president, University of Chicago Medical Center (Chicago, IL); Philip O. Ozuah, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president and chief operating officer, Montefiore Medical Center (Bronx, NY); and Peter L. Slavin, M.D., president, Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston, MA).

The Summit marks the first time U.S. News editors have discussed their hospital ranking system in an extensive public forum with the leaders of the institutions being ranked.

Christiana Care Health System   |   PO Box 1668, Wilmington, DE 19899   |   800-693-2273   |   www.christianacare.org