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How hospital rankings, lists and designations can boost your reputation

BY: Elise Oberliesen on December 5, 2018

Consumers love lists, awards and rankings. And many people follow them with anticipation wondering who will make the cut.

Why? Because consumers and future employees want to know who has the best and worst reputation before they spend a few bucks or apply to join your team.hospital rankings

Lists such as the 2018 U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals Rankings, in which Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic came out on top of the hospital rankings, serve several purposes, said Theresa Mazzaro, RN, CHCR, senior talent acquisition specialist, with Suburban Hospital, a member of Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Published lists and hospital rankings reports work like a scorecard where everyday people can see how organizations compare to their peers, Mazzaro said.

“Hospital rankings are great for community recruitment,” she said. And to some degree, the reports can be helpful with recruiting efforts, she added.

Johns Hopkins was ranked No. 3 by U.S. News & World Report’s 2018-19 Best Hospitals Honor Roll and was recognized in 2018 by Becker’s Hospital Review. This type of credibility helps hospitals “stand out from the pack,” particularly from a quality perspective, Mazzaro said.

Depending on which position you are recruiting for, quality outcomes captured in these lists may catch the eye of job applicants interviewing for the director of patient safety or a quality risk management position, she said.

“If I was talking to a candidate about Becker’s or other rankings, it’s not at the top of my mind as a recruiter, but if it was something to do with discussing benefits or work-life balance, then I might talk about it with the candidate,” Mazzaro said.

U.S. News & World Report Chief of Health Analysis Ben Harder said the intent behind publishing annual hospital rankings lists is for the patient’s sake, not necessarily for the hospital.

“Hospitals cannot opt in or opt out,” he said. “We exist to provide information and data, so patients can make informed decisions. Although we realize that hospitals may use this as a recruiting tool.”

U.S. News & World Report crunches data from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to compile their results, Harder said. The only exception is children’s hospitals, which must fill out survey questions simply because CMS data isn’t available.

“We evaluate hospitals in different areas of care,” Harder said. “We rank hospitals in 25 areas of adult care and 10 in pediatric care. We look at patient mortality rates and how the hospital takes care of these patients. We look at readmission rates or if they have a longer stay in the hospitals because of infection rates.”

Other highly credible lists include the Forbes Best Employers List and Becker’s Hospital Review — Top 100 Hospitals.

“We love being able to identify America’s best employers because by doing so we both help employees find the workplaces they might most want to pursue careers at and help employers see who is doing best at creating the conditions for recruiting and retaining the best work forces in a competitive business environment,” said Fred Allen, Forbes senior editor who oversees the Top Employers List.

“We think those are both such important services that this year we expanded the franchise, inaugurating new Forbes lists of the Best Employers for Women and the Best Employers for Diversity,” Allen added.

How designations can set you apart

Niche-based designations, such as Magnet, given by the American Nurses Credentialing Center also can help with recruiting efforts, Mazzaro said.

Lantern, awarded by the Emergency Nurses Association to recognize outstanding emergency departments, also is beneficial for nurse recruitment, she said.

“It takes a lot of hard work to get them — you cannot buy the Magnet designation,” Mazzaro said. “Magnet designation is reflective of your culture.”

And when a designation is combined with quality care data like positive patient outcomes, fewer readmissions and how soon patients go home, all reported by CMS, these criteria can help hospitals grab better results, Harder said.

“Nurse staffing and whether it’s a Magnet facility, in combination with other factors, can give hospitals a higher ranking,” he said.

Too many patients and not enough nurses also can affect rankings.

“The nurse staffing ratio is connected to better patient outcomes and is under the control of the hospital,” Harder said. “It helps improve quality of care.”

When it comes to recruiting experienced nurses, Mazzaro said these candidates understand how different designations, like Beacon, Lantern or Magnet tie into the hospital’s track record for positive patient outcomes.

Designations like these give healthcare facilities “bragging rights” and are helpful recruiting tools, she said.

It’s a good idea to mention awards and designations directly in a job positing as it relates to the position, Mazzaro said. Take an ED job posting — ED nurses understand the importance of receiving Lantern designation, while critical care nurses can appreciate the value of Beacon designation, she said.

Just 19 organizations received Lantern designation this year, said Mazzaro, which makes it an honor to work in such a facility. She said nurses like to add those designation pins to their name badges.

Conferences you should consider attending

  • U.S. News & World Report hosts Healthcare of Tomorrow workshops designed to help hospitals learn how to improve patient outcomes and improve their rankings. The conference will be held Nov.17-19, 2019, at the Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, D.C. The conference attracts hospital executives, policymakers, insurers, consumer advocates and industry analysts.
  • Becker’s Hospital Review 10th Annual Meeting will take place April 1-4, 2019, at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago. Designed for hospital and health system executives, the conference is expected to draw more than 4,200 attendees.

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Elise Oberliesen

Elise Oberliesen has 15 years of combined media and marketing experience. Her work appears on corporate blogs and publications, such as the LA Times, Chicago Tribune and AARP. Her specialties include healthcare, high tech and finance. Elise is a member of the Association of Healthcare Journalists and founder of Big Mountain Media.