From the Archives: Oh Boy, It’s Awards Season Again

Posted on July 22, 2011

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Two moldy oldies in one week! This is a good one though and, once again, it is relevant. I remembered this post Wednesday when I saw that US News and World Report released their annual ranking of hospitals by specialty. Again. I think somebody there must have read my post last year because they actually shuffled the deck a little. However, my overall sentiments are still the same as those expressed below.

This post first appeared July 19, 2010. Here we are one year later. Let’s see… the specialty care recognized here is still out of reach for many people. This report is still mostly irrelevant. And the dog still makes me smile.

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July 19, 2010 – U.S. News and World Report released their annual Best Hospitals Awards last week with the usual aplomb. U.S. News has published this list for the past twentysomething years with very few changes. Their focus is on speciality recognition which is really redundant since you can get the same information from your doctor, any health magazine, or from Google.

Pop quiz: What does this tiara-wearing dog and the U.S. News Awards have to do with patient safety? Answer: Absolutely nothing. But the dog does make me smile so I’d say it’s more valuable than the U.S. News Awards.

Here’s the deal – there are more hospital awards floating around this country than there are ants at a picnic. Most of them have absolutely nothing to do with patient outcomes or quality of care. The majority are little more than popularity contests and I find these awards by U.S. News some of the most offensive. Why?  Because they come from a news organization; they’re supposed to dig, do a little research. Instead, their methodology is based on casting votes – which is basically the same method used in high school to choose Most Likely To…  for the yearbook.

A couple of observations: For the first time ever, U.S. News put patient safety in the mix. I nearly fell off my chair when I read that. Now, I don’t know what patient safety looks like to U.S. News but at least they gave it a nod. The other thing that makes this list almost useless is the fact that increasing insurance network restrictions make access to these “award winners” impossible for most people, even with a physician referral.

U.S. News needs to rethink their entire Hospital Awards strategy. It’s relevance today is almost nil and it is in real danger of going the way of the mullet, leg warmers and 8-track tapes.

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