In an era of transparency, government agencies and not-for-profit advocacy groups are publishing a growing amount of data about providers' performance on outcomes, quality measures, pricing and patient satisfaction.
For patients, the results can be confusing. Rankings and letter grades only complicate decisions about where to go and what to have done, especially when those decisions have to be made in a hurry.
That's why each year Modern Healthcare proudly publishes Truven Health Analytics' analysis of the nation's 100 Top Hospitals. Truven ranks the best-performing hospitals on a composite measure that includes traditional quality and outcomes measures plus financial performance. Shorn of irrelevant considerations such as reputation, its analysis provides hospital and system officials with useful benchmarks for measuring their performance against peers and against their own previous performance.
It raises an interesting question, however, one that is relevant not only to hospital officials but also to healthcare consumers. If diagnosed with a particular health problem, should a patient rely on the local hospital recently taken over by a for-profit system or go to the religious-affiliated institution across town? Does the prestigious university medical center in the nearby city truly provide superior care over a small- or medium-sized suburban hospital?