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Hospital Rankings

April 26, 2010
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Posted by Georgia Relich

I found this article interesting in that we, as marketers of healthcare and hospitals, are forever asked to tout the awards, accreditations, and rankings in our marketing messages.  The belief is that this information adds credibility to the hospital.  The criticism:  the rankings put too much emphasis on a hospital’s reputation. So, that criticism has been put to a mathematical test, thanks to an associate professor at Case Western Reserve University, who took a closer look at the numbers to see just how much reputation really mattered for rankings.  Bottom line:  the study found that if the top 20 hospitals in 12 categories had been ranked on reputation alone, the results would have been about 90% the same as the actual rankings (which incidentally are based on 3 factors: a hospital’s resources, patient outcomes, and its reputation among physicians). And when Dr. Sehgal compared reputation scores with the other factors used by the ranking magazine, he found that those reputations didn’t necessarily reflect realty.  He says that there was virtually no relationship between reputation and objective measures of quality.  The article gives a few more examples of the discrepancy between ranking and  realty.

Interestingly, we have learned through independent research studies conducted by some of our clients that patients don’t really pay much attention to ranking information.

Bigger bottom line:  hanging your hat on rankings as a marketing tactic may not be the best use of marketing voice or dollars.

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