Move Designed to Drive Greater Data Transparency
For 2016, U.S. News & World Report (USNWR) is changing how it calculates its annual Best Hospitals rankings in Cardiology and Heart Surgery. The change will give new credits to hospitals that publicly release performance data through either one or both of two clinical registries: The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) Adult Cardiac Surgery Database and the American College of Cardiology’s (ACC) National Cardiovascular Data Registry.
The change could potentially give higher rankings to institutions that publicly release this data and lower scores to institutions that don’t. USNWR officially announced the change on-line in the publication’s Second Opinion blog in March 2016, several months before the anticipated release of its annual Best Hospitals Survey, which is typically published in June or July.
The change does not come as a surprise to those who follow the continuing evolution of the USNWR survey instrument. In the fall of 2015, at the influential publication’s annual Hospitals of Tomorrow (HOT) conference, USNWR analysts told hospital executives in attendance that USNWR already looks at STS data on heart bypass surgery performance when ranking hospitals in Common Care procedures.
USNWR representatives at the conference stressed that hospitals that don’t publically report such data miss getting credit for that in their Common Care ranking results. In fact, USNWR representatives went so far to say that for the Common Care rankings, facilities that reported their results to STS tended to have better rankings than those that didn’t – even if the performance data reported was average or subpar.
Now, USNWR appears to be taking the same carrot and stick approach regarding transparency when compiling rankings for its annual U.S. Best Hospitals in Cardiology and Heart Surgery. According to the publication, of approximately 700 hospitals evaluated for heart rankings, more than half of these already publicly report their data through STS. (Results can be accessed at www.STS.org ). Many STS reporters also publicly report through ACC. However, more than 300 hospitals included in the annual USNWR cardiovascular-care analysis have not yet opted to be transparent though either registry.
For hospital marketing and business strategy executives, the change represents an opportunity to have discussions, if you haven’t already done so, with your clinical and C-Suite leadership about making more performance data public. There is a lot of buzz these days about transparency even as many healthcare organizations struggle to determine internally which information to share publicly and what data not to release. However, given the importance of the USNWR annual rankings, and the impact these scores have on consumer preferences, organizations that ignore the move toward greater performance transparency do so at their own risk.
Here are more technical details about how the change in USNWR’s methodology will work:
- Three percentage points of a hospital’s score in Cardiology & Heart Surgery will derive from the two new transparency measures.
- To receive full credit, a hospital must have opted into public reporting via both STS and ACC. On the ACC side, transparency via either or both CathPCI or ICD will count. U.S. News draws data from ACC’s CardioSmart.org for use in the rankings. CardioSmart is the ACC’s patient education and empowerment initiative designed to help individual consumers prevent, treat and manage cardiovascular disease.
- A hospital that is transparent via STS but not ACC, or vice versa, will receive 2 points.
- Hospitals that have not chosen to be transparent through either registry will receive no credit.
- Additionally, for 2016, USNWR will reduce physician reputation’s scoring weight in Cardiology & Heart Surgery from 27.5 percent to 24.5 percent. Physician reputation still represents a significant component of total scoring. However, USNWR has indicated it wants to put greater weight on outcomes and performance measures in the coming years.
The bottom line: expect these changes to impact hospital rankings in 2016 and beyond. Now is the time, if you haven’t done so, to initiate or continue discussions with key leadership about the need for transparency and how this impacts your organization’s standings in these important rankings.