PHILADELPHIA—The University of Pennsylvania Health System, part of Penn Medicine, announced today that it will discontinue active participation in the annual U.S. News & World Report “Best Hospitals” rankings.
Underscoring the need for greater transparency and access to more comprehensive quality data beyond the narrow information collected by U.S. News & World Report, the health system is committed to annual publication of consistent, objective performance metrics. Leaders also hope to work with other health systems nationwide to develop standardized measures for self-reporting on quality and performance.
Modern medicine goes far beyond hospital walls. Today’s health systems provide primary care along with advanced care—from surgeries to cancer treatment to kidney dialysis—in outpatient facilities, in patients’ homes, and through virtual platforms or remote monitoring. Although the Hospitals of the University of Pennsylvania-Penn Presbyterian has been named to the “Best Hospitals” Honor Roll of top 20 hospitals for the past 16 consecutive years and Penn Medicine’s regional hospitals are ranked among the best in the health system’s service area, its leaders say the rankings represent an outdated view of health care, failing to capture the full breadth of “care everywhere” services.
“Health care 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.”
The U.S. News & World Report “Best Hospitals” rankings are based solely on inpatient hospital care of those insured by Medicare. These patients are typically at least 65 years old or have long-term disabilities. The rankings also do not reflect the field’s shift toward outpatient medicine. At Penn Medicine, for instance, the majority of care is now delivered outside of hospitals.
While U.S. News & World Report may continue to rank Penn Medicine hospitals, the health system will cease active participation in the process or results. This includes no longer submitting information to the American Hospital Association’s Annual Survey, from which the publication draws data as a key part of its “Best Hospitals” methodology. Penn Medicine will also discontinue any promotion of its position on the “Honor Roll,” specialty rankings, or any other rankings content, and it will stop purchasing the U.S. News & World Report badges required to publicize the rankings. Importantly, the health system will continue to submit data required for all publicly reportable hospital quality programs, such as those maintained by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Over the next year, Penn Medicine will develop a public-facing dashboard, including evidence-based measures like readmission and infection rates and quality data for emerging areas, including home care and telemedicine. The new report will include patients of all ages, across multiple treatment settings. The dashboard will be updated annually online, available for current and prospective patients and their families, referring physicians, health plans, community organizations, policymakers, regulatory agencies, and others. Penn Medicine will also continue to engage health system and hospital peers nationwide to standardize quality and performance reporting.
The move is part of a trend to examine long-running, third-party rankings programs to better define impactful performance measurements across health care and education. In January 2023, Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine—along with other leading medical schools—announced its withdrawal from the U.S. News & World Report “Best Medical Schools” rankings.
“The U.S. 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 is one of the world’s leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, excellence in patient care, and community service. The organization consists of the University of Pennsylvania Health System and Penn’s Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine, founded in 1765 as the nation’s first medical school.
The Perelman School of Medicine is consistently among the nation’s top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $550 million awarded in the 2022 fiscal year. Home to a proud history of “firsts” in medicine, Penn Medicine teams have pioneered discoveries and innovations that have shaped modern medicine, including recent breakthroughs such as CAR T cell therapy for cancer and the mRNA technology used in COVID-19 vaccines.
The University of Pennsylvania Health System’s patient care facilities stretch from the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania to the New Jersey shore. These include the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, Chester County Hospital, Lancaster General Health, Penn Medicine Princeton Health, and Pennsylvania Hospital—the nation’s first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional facilities and enterprises include Good Shepherd Penn Partners, Penn Medicine at Home, Lancaster Behavioral Health Hospital, and Princeton House Behavioral Health, among others.
Penn Medicine is an $11.1 billion enterprise powered by more than 49,000 talented faculty and staff.