U.S. News Tracks 'Meaningful Use' in 'Most Connected Hospital' Rankings

As part of its "Best Hospitals 2013" coverage, U.S. News & World Report has ranked the "Most Connected Hospitals." Minnesota's Mayo Clinic and Nashville's Vanderbilt University Medical Center were among the honorees.

U.S. News & World Report has published its list of "Most Connected Hospitals," with 156 hospitals making this year's rankings, announced on July 17.

To be considered for the list, hospitals needed to meet the federal government's guidelines on "meaningful use" of electronic health records (EHRs) by July 10.

"This is the first year we've used hospitals' meaningful-use status in the 'Most Connected Hospitals' methodology," Steve Sternberg, deputy health rankings editor for U.S. News, wrote in an email to eWEEK.

In addition, hospitals were required to satisfy Stage 6 or Stage 7 criteria from HIMSS Analytics, a division of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society. The stages rank the levels of EHR adoption with Stage 0 accounting for no implementation and Stage 7 marking full use of EHRs.

"The hospitals on the 'Most Connected' list this year lead all others in making the transition to fully integrated [EHRs]," said Sternberg. "These records can help guide patient care, give patients access to information they need to make better decisions, and allow hospitals to better monitor and improve the services they provide."

To be included, hospitals also had to appear in either the U.S. News "Best Hospitals" and/or "Best Children's Hospitals" list or be considered "high-performing" in at least one medical specialty, according to U.S. News.

"This year, only 148 of the 4,793 hospitals evaluated by U.S. News performed well enough to rank in even one specialty," said Sternberg.

EHR adoption did not play a role in the selection of overall "Best Hospitals," U.S. News noted.

"Hospitals' adoptions of [EHRs] isn't a factor in the Best Hospitals 2012-13 rankings," U.S. News reported. "That's because [EHR] usage, while booming, hasn't been proven to consistently advance patient care."

Although they haven't "consistently" advanced care, EHRs could make patients safer and care more efficient, U.S. News added.

Among U.S. News' top-ranked facilities for Stage 7 HIMSS EHR completion were the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minn., and the University of Wisconsin Hospital & Clinics in Madison, Wis.

Stage 6 mentions included Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City and Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, one area of the United States in which the health care IT job market is growing, according to a 2011 report by the Nashville Technology Council.

In another ranking of top hospitals in health care IT, Hospitals & Health Networks magazine published its list of 200 "Most Wired" hospitals in its July 2012 issue and announced the rankings on July 10.

The purpose of the H&HN survey was to serve as a "road map" for hospitals on how to integrate IT systems, according to the publication.

Department of Veterans Affairs hospital systems were the largest in the survey, particularly VA Region 3, Office of Information Technology, in Ann Arbor, Mich., with 12,691 beds.

Of the "Most Wired" hospitals surveyed by H&HN, 93 percent used intrusion-detection systems to safeguard patient privacy and 74 percent employed automated patient flow systems.

Health care IT company McKesson and the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) sponsored the H&HN survey.