Truly Intensive Care
That's what quality gurus are banking on, such as the Leapfrog Group, a consortium of private and public healthcare purchasers, which wants hospitals to audit and publicly disclose patient results. And the Institute for Healthcare Improvement is rallying medical centers to create rapid-response teams to bring intensive care to bedsides in all parts of the hospital. Better outcomes invariably mean a hospital culture with a top-notch medical staff that works together, strong and respected nursing, well-equipped and well-functioning intensive care units, and ever-upgraded medical technology. Experience counts, too, with hospitals and physicians who perform the larger numbers of difficult procedures consistently demonstrating lower mortality rates and better overall results.
For years, U.S. News has keyed on several measures to devise the "America's Best Hospitals" rankings: mortality, reputation among specialist physicians, nursing, technology, and more. Increasingly, we identify critical specialty areas. However, consumers want more. A reader, Tom Mulhall, from Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., wrote to me last week praising "the excellent service" that we offer with our "Best Hospitals" listings but made a plea for even more refinement. Who's best, he asks, to treat sarcoidosis or to fix a Dupuytren's contracture of the hand? Just now, Mr. Mulhall, we don't have access to the kind of data to let us do that--but under the relentless glare of quality measures and pressure from information-hungry patients, we will get there.