U.S. News & World Report began publishing hospital rankings in 1990 to identify the best medical centers for the most difficult patients—those whose illnesses pose unusual challenges because of underlying conditions, procedure difficulty or other medical issues that add risk. More than one factor can be in play for particular patients. The rankings, originally named “America’s Best Hospitals” but now simply “Best Hospitals,” have appeared annually from the start. The focus on the most difficult patients has not changed.
U.S News ranks the top hospitals in 16 different specialties from Cancer to Urology. For 12 of the 16 specialties, an extensive analysis combines measures of performance in three primary dimensions of healthcare: structure, process and outcomes. Rankings in the four remaining specialties are based on hospital reputation, determined by a physician survey.
Structural measures include hospital volume, technology and other resources that define the hospital environment. The source of the majority of structural measures is the American Hospital Association (AHA) Annual Survey, supplemented by additional resources such as the National Cancer Institute’s list of designated cancer centers.