Aug. 2, 2016 -- The Mayo Clinic in Rochester won the top spot on the 2016 U.S. News & World Report list of Best Hospitals. It also earned first place for 8 of 16 specialty areas.
Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, the No. 1 last year, dropped to third place on the list, which includes 20 hospitals for 2016.
The publication compared nearly 5,000 medical centers across the U.S. in 16 specialties and 9 conditions and procedures. This year is the 27th year of the annual report, meant to help people select the best hospital for their needs.
To make the honor roll list, ''hospitals had to have one of the top 20 scores in the nation, as determined across all 25 areas of care [examined]," says Ben Harder, chief of health analysis for the publication.
In all, 153 hospitals were nationally ranked in at least one specialty of care. The ratings also recognize 504 best regional hospitals.
The evaluators looked at measures including how many patients survive, infection rates, and quality of the nursing staff, Harder says. They also take into account satisfaction ratings from patients and input from more than 30,000 doctors.
The full top 20 list:
- Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN
- Cleveland Clinic
- Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
- Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore
- UCLA Medical Center
- New York-Presbyterian University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell
- UCSF Medical Center, San Francisco
- Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago
- Hospitals of the University of Pennsylvania-Penn Presbyterian, Philadelphia
- NYU Langone Medical Center
- Barnes-Jewish Hospital/Washington University in St. Louis
- UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside, Pittsburgh
- Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston
- Stanford Health Care-Stanford Hospital, Stanford, CA
- Mount Sinai Hospital, New York
- Duke University Hospital, Durham, NC
- Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles
- University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers, Ann Arbor
- Houston Methodist Hospital
- University of Colorado Hospital, Aurora
The point of the evaluations is not that everyone should head to top hospitals, Harder says. "Our goal really is to focus on specific areas of care." A good way to start researching is to consider what kind of care you need. For instance, he says, if you need orthopedic care, see how the hospitals in your area stack up.
Many organizations in addition to U.S. News & World Report rank hospitals. The best approach is to look at a variety of ratings and results, says Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit that rates hospitals, taking safety and quality into account. Think about your medical needs when researching, she says. "I might be looking for an excellent heart program [while] someone else might be looking for obststrics."
People should also expect ratings and opinions to differ, she says, just as they do when searching for other products and services, from movie reviews to appliances.
The publication also ranked hospitals in 16 areas of specialty care. University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston took the top spot in cancer; Cleveland Clinic earned No. 1 for cardiology and heart surgery, and the Mayo Clinic ranked first in diabetes and endocrinology.
The magazine also named 504 facilities as top regional hospitals.
In most cases, Harder says, it's not advisable to leave your home region, where patients tend to have a good support system of family and friends, and travel long distances for medical care. It also may be more expensive, depending on your insurance.