By Ben Harder for U.S. News
U.S. News ranks the top hospitals in the nation, plus the best hospitals in each state and metro area.
Somewhere in America, at a pace of about once per second, a patient checks into a hospital. With more than 33 million hospitalizations a year and so many patients on whom to sharpen their skills, hospitals could be expected to meet the most demanding standards for quality and safety.
Yet too many hospitals fail even those whose medical needs are relatively straightforward – such as hip replacement, uncomplicated heart bypass surgery or removal of a cancerous section of colon. The hospital that makes treating patients like these its bread and butter is the very definition of a community hospital, and it should perform at a high standard.
Even fewer hospitals excel at caring for patients with especially challenging or complex diagnoses, for whom the stakes may be a matter of life or death. For those patients, venturing beyond a trusted community hospital to seek care at a truly exceptional medical center, even one farther from home, may be the wisest option.
To help readers narrow their search for hospitals that best match their needs, U.S. News ranks hospital performance in 16 areas of complex specialty care and rates hospitals in nine bellwether procedures and conditions such as heart bypass, hip and knee replacement, heart failure and lung cancer surgery.
The Best Hospitals Honor Roll takes both the specialty rankings and the procedure and condition ratings into account. Hospitals received points if they were nationally ranked in one of the 16 specialties – the more specialties and the higher their rank, the more points they got – and also if they were rated “high performing” in the nine procedures and conditions. The top 20 point-scorers made up the Honor Roll.
U.S. News 2019-20 Best Hospitals Honor Roll
1. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
2. Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
3. Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore
4. Cleveland Clinic
5. New York-Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia and Cornell, New York
6. UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles
7. UCSF Medical Center, San Francisco
8. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles
9. NYU Langone Hospitals, New York
10. Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago
11. University of Michigan Hospitals-Michigan Medicine, Ann Arbor
12. Stanford Health Care-Stanford Hospital, Stanford, California
13. Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston
14. Mount Sinai Hospital, New York
15. UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside, Pittsburgh
16. Keck Hospital of USC, Los Angeles
17. University of Wisconsin Hospitals, Madison
18. (tie) Hospitals of the University of Pennsylvania-Penn Presbyterian, Philadelphia
18. (tie) Mayo Clinic-Phoenix
20. (tie) Houston Methodist Hospital
20. (tie) Yale New Haven Hospital, Connecticut
Best Regional Hospitals
For most illnesses, patients do not need to go to an Honor Roll hospital, which may require onerous travel and where they may face greater expense of being treated outside their insurance plan’s network. To help readers find high-quality medical centers closer to home, U.S. News created Best Regional Hospitals. Similar to the Honor Roll, these regional rankings provide an overall assessment of a hospital’s performance across multiple areas of care. To be recognized on this year’s list, a hospital must have been either nationally ranked in one of 12 key specialties or received ratings of high performing in three or more of the procedures and conditions.
In 2019-20, U.S. News recognized 569 U.S. hospitals – about 1 medical center in 10 – as Best Regional Hospitals, and these were numerically ranked by state and metro area. The greatest concentration of standout regional hospitals lies in the New York metro area, where New York-Presbyterian Hospital was first among 31 regionally ranked medical centers. In the Los Angeles metro area, UCLA Medical Center topped the list of 24 best regional hospitals. In Chicago, a third cluster of high-quality medical centers, Northwestern Memorial Hospital ranked first of 21.
If you’ve consulted past editions of Best Hospitals, you’re bound to notice some hospitals that have risen or fallen in the rankings. Don’t make too much of year-to-year movements. It takes multiple years of progressive change to know if a hospital is truly improving or worsening.
For patients and their physicians, these rankings and ratings should be seen as just a starting point. Individual diagnosis, insurance coverage and personal priorities are important factors in making a personal best choice. With the latest U.S. News hospital-quality data at their fingertips, they can make their choices with greater confidence.