This summer's 2012-13 Best Hospitals release will showcase a new feature: state rankings. It reflects a continuing effort to make Best Hospitals useful to families whether their home is a megalopolis, a small town, or something in between. The new rankings will show every hospital in their state that met our rigorous standards.
We already rank hospitals within 94 metro areas with 500,000 or more residents, so why bother? Aren't most first-rate hospitals found in major metro areas? Yes—and no. Let's look at the numbers.
Out of 4,825 U.S. hospitals put through our data mill to generate the 2011-12 rankings, just 140 emerged as Best Hospitals in even a single specialty. (There are 16 specialties in the rankings.) And sure enough, 133 of the 140 were in the 94 designated metro areas. Another 587 hospitals in those metro areas scored a notch below the nation's best but were in the highest one-fourth of all hospitals that qualified to be ranked in at least one specialty. That top 25 percent performance was ample evidence, in our judgment, to make these high performers worth consideration for all but the most challenging patients. Our metro area rankings include them.
Outside the 94 metro areas, however, other numbers demand attention. Besides 7 nationally ranked Best Hospitals, 242 other centers met the "high performer" standard in at least one specialty. In January, we identified all hospitals, metro and nonmetro, that met the top 25 percent standard as Best Regional Hospitals. But only the metro high performers were included in the 2011-12 regional rankings.
The new state rankings will bring all of the high performers together, creating a single overarching roster of each state's Best Regional Hospitals.
We will continue to publish rankings in major metropolitan areas. Hospital rank in the state rankings will be determined, as it is in the metro area rankings, by the number of specialties in which the hospital is nationally ranked and then by how many in which it is high performing.