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Mayo Clinic named top US hospital for 7th year in a row

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and NYU Langone Hospitals were ranked second and third in the U.S. News & World Report list.

Mayo Clinic's Number One
Mayo Clinic was once again ranked as the number one U.S. hospital by U.S. News & World Report magazine in its annual list. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and NYU Langone Hospitals were ranked second and third with Cleveland Clinic being listed as fourth. Johns Hopkins Hospital and UCLA Medical Center tied for fifth place.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — While many things have changed in the past seven years, Mayo Clinic’s dominance as the top hospital in the U.S. News & World Report magazine's annual list has remained the same.

Mayo Clinic was once again ranked as the number one hospital out of more than 4,000 U.S. hospitals. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and NYU Langone Hospitals were ranked second and third with Cleveland Clinic at fourth. Johns Hopkins Hospital and UCLA Medical Center tied for fifth place.

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It is notable that all of those top hospitals were also on the top 20 list in 2021. However, all of the other top hospitals shifted up or down in the top 10 rankings with only Mayo Clinic remaining at the same rank, along with New York-Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia and Cornell at the seventh place.

“There's movement pretty much every year. Some of that is because the underlying performance may have changed from one hospital to another. Some of it may be because a hospital may have kind of gotten lucky or unlucky one year with better outcomes or worse outcomes. Plus, we added some new ratings this year,” said Ben Harder, chief of health analysis and managing editor at U.S. News. “Being number one for seven years is pretty remarkable. It’s pretty striking.”

Mayo Clinic Phoenix was ranked at 18, which is down from 15 in the 2021 list.

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This year’s list, which factored in data from 2018, 2019 and 2020, did take into account the unusual impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on hospitals.

“We decided, as much as possible, to exclude the disruption caused by COVID from our analysis,” said Harder. “We wanted to make sure we were measuring what will help patients make a decision today. That means that if they need a knee replacement or they get colon cancer or they've had a heart attack, the ranking will tell them what hospitals in their community or outside their community might be best to go to for treatment today.”

U.S. News & World Reports has been ranking U.S. hospitals for 33 years. This marks Mayo Clinic’s eighth time on top, including a number one ranking in 2014.

"This recognition is a testament to our staff's deep commitment to delivering care with exceptionally high quality, safety and experience," stated Mayo Clinic Chief Value Officer Dr. Sean Dowdy, "More than any other year, I am particularly proud of the perseverance, expertise, attention to detail and empathy of our staff that is responsible for our category-of-one performance, as supported by our consistent No. 1 ranking."

After dominating the most well-known hospital ranking for so long, is this still valuable as a marketing tool? How important is being ranked number one to an institution like Mayo Clinic, which has a long history of having a reputation as a world renowned health care facility?

Having a ranking like this is still very important, said Carlson School of Business Associate Professor Alison Xu. Reputation needs to be communicated widely to be useful.

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Alison Xu

“One type of customer or patient is very knowledgeable about healthcare and about their own issues. They usually search for a lot of information. They chat with healthcare professionals. They want to collect a lot of information,” Xu said. “For these people, rankings are very important because they know rankings made by a third party organization that have access to a lot of information to evaluate those healthcare organizations.”

She said a second type of patient is not very knowledgeable about health care and might not follow the news closely.

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“And yet, they also want to get high quality health care. This is called a peripheral route to persuasion meaning that they will take some shortcuts to make a decision,” Xu said. “They will say, ‘OK, Mayo Clinic is ranked number one, so I will go for it.’ ”

This year’s list included many new criteria such as ranking more specialties. In the specialty rankings, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center ranked No. 1 in cancer treatment with Mayo Clinic being ranked third. The Cleveland Clinic was ranked as the best in cardiology and heart surgery with Mayo Clinic taking second place. NYU Langone Hospitals was named No. 1 in Neurology and Neurosurgery.

The magazine also added health equity to its analysis by looking at specific treatments, like knee replacement or heart bypass surgery, and looking at racial disparities in outcomes.

In that context, very few of the top 20 hospitals scored well in health equity , according to Harder.

“Unfortunately, it's not a great health equity story to tell. We see large disparities in the access that black and brown populations have to any elective services,” he said. "And it's not necessarily the hospital's fault that that's happening. Those are the factors that are contributing to that disparity may be made just entirely outside the hospital. Certainly, they exist at least partially outside the hospital. But it's a symptom, in any case, of a disparity and an inequity that we think people need to be aware of."

Mayo Clinic in Rochester was judged to have a “significant disparity” of Black patients being readmitted after knee replacement compared to white patients.

However, Mayo Clinic in Rochester was not judged on health equity on many of the treatments being studied, because it did not treat enough minority patients.

“We didn't evaluate Mayo Clinic in certain Health Equity measures, because it treated too few Black patients for us to calculate a statistically reliable measure of racial disparities in outcomes of certain types of surgery,” Harder explained. "That's not unique to them. In fact, that was pretty much universally true across all of our hospitals. I think that's important context, but it's definitely something that caught our eye and is not a reassuring finding. Maybe on some level it's what we would all expect, but it's a signal of how far we have to go to achieve equity as a health care system. "

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Looking at “Community Residents Who Accessed Care at this Hospital,” Mayo Clinic in Rochester’s report card showed its “Representation of low-income patients” was similar to other hospitals.

The representation of non-white patients, Black patients and Asian American patients Native American patients were all judged as being “lower than the community.” Representation of Hispanic patients and Native American patients were not ranked due to “insufficient data.”

Jeff Kiger writes a daily column, "Heard on the Street," in addition to writing articles about local businesses, Mayo Clinic, IBM, Hormel Foods, Crenlo and others. He has worked in Rochester for the Post Bulletin since 1999. Readers can reach Jeff at 507-285-7798 or jkiger@postbulletin.com.
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