Impact of hospital rankings eyed

Following the release of U.S. News & World Report’s annual 2012-2013 hospital rankings, Ashish Jha, C. Boyden Gray Associate Professor at HSPH, discussed the significance of the rankings for consumers in a July 17, 2012 interview on WBUR radio. Each survey is conducted differently, he said, and sometimes important criteria for patients–like patient-doctor communications, primary care, and patient experiences–are not included.

While such rankings can be helpful for people with serious, uncommon disease and complicated diseases to consider, most patients requiring a short hospitalization for common ailments would do just as well at a lower ranked hospital, including a good community hospital, Jha said.

This year, U.S. News & World Report ranked Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) tops in the nation, surpassing Johns Hopkins which had held the top ranking for 22 years. Does whether a hospital ranks first or second make a difference to patients? “The truth is it doesn’t really matter,” Jha said “MGH and Johns Hopkins are both excellent hospitals. It matters more for the marketing departments than the average patient.”

Listen to the WBUR interview on hospital rankings

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Department of Health Policy and Management