How We Ranked the Best Hospitals 2013-14: An FAQ

The facts and methodology behind the latest adult hospital rankings in 16 specialties


How does U.S. News decide what changes to make to its methodology?

Each year RTI International, a large North Carolina-based research and consulting firm, revisits the methodology based on the medical literature and input from hospitals and discusses possible changes with U.S. News. Any changes are implemented only with U.S. News approval.

What is the significance of the Honor Roll?

It recognizes the small number of hospitals that are unusually competent across a range of specialties, not just one or two. High ranking in a minimum of six specialties is required. In the 12 specialties that used objective data, a hospital had to be ranked in the top 20 to receive Honor Roll credit; in the reputation-only specialties, a hospital had to be ranked in the top 10. In addition to Honor Roll credit, points were awarded. A hospital earned two points if it ranked among the top 10 in a data specialty and one point if ranked from 11 through 20. In the reputational specialties, a hospital got two points if in the top 5 and one point if ranked from six through 10. The order of the Honor Roll was based first on total points, with ties broken by the number of specialties. No hospital ranked first in every specialty.

Where can more detailed information be found?

A complete description of the data analysis is available as a viewable and downloadable PDF, the 2013-14 Best Hospitals Methodology Report.


What is a high-performing hospital?

To be high performing, a hospital had to have a score that placed it among the top 25 percent of eligible facilities in at least one specialty, using the same methodology that identifies nationally ranked Best Hospitals. In four other specialties in which rank is based on a reputational survey of physician specialists, a hospital had to be named by an average of 3 percent or more of responding physicians over the latest three years of surveys. A hospital that met the standard is recognized as a high-performing hospital.

How are high-performing hospitals recognized?

U.S. News recognizes Best Regional Hospitals at three geographic levels: states, regions and metro areas.

States. Regional high performers are recognized in their respective states. They are also ranked, in those states with two or more such hospitals and at least one of them either nationally ranked in at least one specialty or high-performing in at least four specialties. Alaska, Nevada and Wyoming did not meet these criteria for 2013-14, so the small number of high-performing hospitals in those states, while recognized as Best Regional Hospitals, are not ranked numerically.

Except in those three states, each hospital’s state rank is determined by the number of specialties in which it is either nationally ranked or high-performing; a hospital that is nationally ranked in more specialties than another hospital in the same state receives a better state rank. When two or more hospitals have an equal number of specialties in which each is nationally ranked, the hospital that’s high performing in a greater number of specialties receives the better state rank. When two or more hospitals in a state have the same number of nationally ranked specialties as well as the same number of high-performing specialties, they receive the same state rank – that is, they are tied. The same logic is used to determine hospitals’ metro rank, in those metro areas that meet the criteria described below.

Corrected on : Clarification 8/6/13: This story has been updated to clarify the rules by which hospitals’ state and metro area rankings are determined.