US News and World Report Releases ‘Most Connected Hospitals’ Rankings

The criteria used by U.S. News and World Report for its recent “Most Connected Hospitals” list echo the demands hospitals face from consumers, the government, and the health information management (HIM) industry to fully integrate health IT into their settings.

The magazine’s rankings judged hospitals based on three primary characteristics:

  • Clinical connectedness
  • Patient safety
  • Patient engagement

To be considered “clinically connected,” a hospital had to be able to digitally send a patient’s lab results to an independent medical practice, as well as have the ability to notify a primary care provider outside the hospital that a patient has been admitted to the hospital’s emergency room, among other factors. Patient safety criteria included measures such as whether a hospital uses barcode scanners for patient and correct medication identification. U.S. News rated a hospital’s patient engagement efforts on factors such as whether patients are given online access to their electronic medical records (EHRs) and whether patients have the ability to request corrections or modifications.

Hospitals considered for the listings also had to score highly on the American Hospital Association’s Annual Survey’s Health IT Supplement, as well as be among the 910 facilities ranked by the magazine’s 2015-2016 Best Hospitals rankings.

In an intensive description of the journal’s methodology, it acknowledged several limitations of its process, including that data used by the surveyors is lagging due to the fact that federal regulations are requiring hospitals to implement many IT initiatives at the same time.

The list authors note that it might seem surprising that a relatively low number of hospitals made this particular list, especially when hundreds more make the publication’s prestigious “best hospitals” lists.

“That relatively few hospitals achieved 2015-16 Most Connected recognition may seem surprising. Electronic medical/health records were created in the 1960s, and it has been nearly seven years since the federal government began earmarking funds to underwriting much of the expense otherwise incurred by hospitals and providers in making the technology omnipresent,” the authors wrote.

“Compliance with federal ‘meaningful use’ requirements, which spell out a timeline for implementing EMR/EHR technology throughout the health care provider community, has proven to be particularly troublesome,” they add.

Click here for the survey’s methodology and a complete list of ranking facilities, and here for an overview as to how they were chosen.

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