Reputation and the Best Hospital Rankings: What Does It Really Mean?

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Abstract

U.S. News & World Report’s annual Best Hospital Rankings are determined by an index of quality based on objective and subjective measures. This study investigates relationships between U.S. News score and its individual subjective and objective components that ultimately determine the relative ranking of the top 50 hospitals in the 2015 Best Hospital Rankings for the study’s selected specialties—cancer, cardiology, gastroenterology, neurology, and orthopedics. A 2-step linear regression model was employed; first, to control for objective components’ influence on U.S. News score (R2 = 0.365; P < .001), then, to isolate the subjective component of reputation’s effect on U.S. News score (R2 = 0.565; P < .001). The second model confirmed that reputation has a more significant influence on total U.S. News score than its objective counterparts. This indicates that a hospital’s U.S. News score and relative ranking in the Best Hospital Rankings may be disproportionately influenced by its reputation.

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