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Penn Med Opts Out of US News Hospital Rankings Over Methodology

Penn Medicine announced it’ll pull out of the US News & World Report hospital rankings, calling for greater transparency and more inclusive care quality metrics.

University of Pennsylvania Health System, part of Penn Medicine, takes a step away from US News Hospital Rankings, arguing that these reports fail to use healthcare quality metrics that reflect the rapidly changing industry.

The health system pointed out the need for greater transparency and access to broader and more detailed quality data, rather than the limited information gathered by the US News & World Report. Penn Med said the data used to compile the rankings fail to capture key elements of quality care, including research and participation in value-based care.

In spite of the University of Pennsylvania-Penn Presbyterian’s long-held place in the top 20 of the "Best Hospitals" Honor Roll—a streak spanning 16 consecutive years—Penn Medicine will no longer participate in the ranking system.

The healthcare organization said it is committed to comprehensive quality and performance metrics to establish standardized measures across the industry.

While US News & World Report may persist in its ranking of Penn Medicine, the healthcare system announced it would no longer contribute to the American Hospital Association’s annual survey, a primary data source used to compile the "Best Hospitals" rankings.

“Healthcare is evolving at an unprecedented pace, and the ways performance is measured must also change. The ‘Best Hospitals’ rankings don’t account for all of the elements essential to improving patient outcomes, such as research, innovation, or value-based care,” said Kevin B. Mahoney, CEO of the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

“Transparent metrics are an important tool for health systems to track and strengthen their efforts, but they should measure the full scope of operations dedicated to care delivery.”

Penn Medicine highlighted that the US News & World Report's "Best Hospitals" rankings focus exclusively on inpatient hospital care for Medicare-insured individuals. That’s an imperfect measure, the institution said, because Medicare beneficiaries are mostly age 65 or have long-term disabilities. That’s a medically complex population, the clinical outcomes of whom may not accurately capture the quality of care administered at a given facility.

Instead, in lieu of the US News & World Report rankings, Penn Medicine said it will create a comprehensive performance dashboard.

The interactive tool will offer information to consumers about various aspects of hospital performance, such as readmission and infection rates across all patient demographics.

The forthcoming dashboard will cover patients from all age groups and across different treatment settings. Set to be updated yearly online, this dashboard will be accessible to current and prospective patients, their families, referring physicians, healthcare plans, community organizations, policymakers, regulatory agencies, and more. Penn Medicine also pledged to maintain ongoing collaboration with health systems and hospitals nationwide to establish a standard format for reporting quality and performance.

“The US News and World Report ‘Best Hospitals’ methodology changes regularly, making it difficult to meaningfully draw conclusions about hospital quality over time, let alone the enormous amount of care provided outside the hospital,” said Patrick J. Brennan, MD, Penn Medicine’s chief medical officer.

“More importantly, these measures do not help us deliver better care for our patients, and they incentivize health systems to expend resources both to compete for placement in the rankings and promote their position on the list. Now is the time to focus our efforts, resources, and workforce talent on delivering the very best care and measuring the most impactful elements in medicine.”

Penn Medicine said it isn't alone in this perspective. Earlier this year, numerous medical schools opted out of the rankings. This move is part of an industry trend to identify more meaningful performance metrics across the healthcare sector.

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