When you’re trying to price a car, you probably go to the Kelley Blue Book. When you’re looking for a go-to restaurant rating system, you probably choose Yelp or Zagat. When you’re looking for a cancer treatment center, you probably make sure it is designated by the National Cancer Institute. So, when you choose a doctor, or a clinic, or a hospital, what resources do you have to help you make that decision? Aside from the input of your trusted friends and family members, or checking out a health care system’s website, there are many organizations that seek to help patients make decisions about where they seek their care. Some of these organizations rank hospitals with hard data, i.e. – metrics on quality levels and patient outcomes, or by program survival rates. Others seek to measure quality as it relates to consumer or marketplace perception, and some even use fee-based systems, excluding hospitals who don’t pay to participate.
So if you want to make sure you can trust your health care team, you probably also want to make sure that the ranking system you employ to choose them is also trustworthy. Here are 3 things to look for when you choose what hospital rankings you rely on to choose your care provider:
Hard & Tangible Data
Whatever ranking system you choose, make sure that it uses reliable, unbiased data. As an example, some hospital rankings system includes data such as mortality rates, but be careful here. Mortality rates should be adjusted to take into account how sick patients were when they arrived at the facility; otherwise, the data is misleading. Make sure the ranking system you choose is straightforward in its disclosure of how ranking data is collected and used.
Validation from Independent & Credible Industry Associations
Just as there is a large volume of rankings out there, so too is there a large volume of established and reliable accrediting and governing organizations in the health care space. Ranging from large governmental organizations such as the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the American Medical Association (AMA) and the reliable publications they produce, i.e. – Journal of the American Medical Association, to nonprofits such as the American Cancer Society, there are organizations out there you can trust to give you the honest scoop on what you should look for in your care team and what ranking systems do a good job of helping you find them.
Collaboration in Rankings
If it was up to the organizations being ranked to choose their rankings, every business would be #1. It’s important when you choose a hospital ranking system to rely on that you also know who was involved in the process. In general, rankings that incorporate input from consumers, hospitals, physicians, and accrediting organizations are the most reliable. Look for rankings that are tangible and transparent in their language about who is involved in the selection process and how entrants are qualified.
What else do you look for when picking a hospital, clinic or doctor? Do you use ranking to help inform your decision? Let us know in the comments below!