What Makes a Hospital One of America’s Best?

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If you know you’re going to have a procedure that requires you to be in a hospital, choosing the right hospital is as important to your health as choosing the right doctor. Why? Because hospital quality can vary significantly from hospital to hospital, and those differences in quality literally can mean the difference between life and death.

For more than 20 years, Healthgrades has been the nation’s leader in measuring and reporting hospital quality. We analyze the actual outcomes patients have experienced at hospitals for various types of treatment over multiple years. We convert that data into star ratings you can find on healthgrades.com, and we recognize hospitals for delivering superior outcomes with a variety of annual awards, including Healthgrades America’s Best Hospitals™.

Being named one of America’s Best Hospitals™ is difficult to achieve.

Healthgrades America’s Best Hospital Award™ is a premier distinction that recognizes hospitals for superior performance in providing care for conditions and procedures across multiple specialty care areas.

America’s Best Hospitals™ consistently deliver exceptional quality care based on the analysis of clinical outcomes for 32 conditions and procedures. These top hospitals fall into one of three levels:

  • America’s 250 Best Hospitals (top 5% in the nation)
  • America’s 100 Best Hospitals (top 2% in the nation)
  • America’s 50 Best Hospitals (top 1% in the nation)

America’s 100 Best Hospitals and America’s 50 Best Hospitals have stood the test of time when it comes to consistently delivering superior performance. Specifically, these hospitals have received the Healthgrades America’s 250 Best Hospitals Award for a minimum of four and eight consecutive years, respectively. These hospitals demonstrate that overall high-quality performance can be sustained year over year.

The standards to earn recognition as one of Healthgrades America’s Best Hospitals are high. Hospitals must build and maintain a culture of excellence, consistently focus on delivering better-than-expected outcomes for their patients, and embrace the challenges of quality improvement.

America’s Best Hospitals deliver superior care.

It can be tempting to choose a hospital because of convenience, reputation or because that’s where your doctor sends you. But it’s important to consider hospital quality, because how well a hospital performs has a direct impact on the outcome of your procedure or treatment. It’s also important to keep in mind doctors can treat you only in hospitals where they have admitting privileges. So, when you choose a doctor, you’re also choosing a hospital.

When you see a hospital named by Healthgrades as one of America’s Best Hospitals, you can have confidence in the care that hospital offers. You’re much more likely to have a successful treatment or procedure without major complications—and a lower chance of dying—at a Healthgrades America’s Best Hospital. In fact, patients treated at an America’s 250 Best Hospital have a 27.4% lower risk of dying (on average) compared to patients at hospitals that did not receive the award—as measured across 19 rated conditions and procedures where mortality is the outcome.

Exceptional care in three specialty areas stand out.

When it comes to providing exceptional care, the 2021 Healthgrades America’s Best Hospitals outperform all other hospitals in a core group of conditions within cardiac care, pulmonary care, and critical care. These conditions account for the majority of in-hospital deaths in areas evaluated by Healthgrades. The importance of clinical success, especially in these three care areas, cannot be understated.

For 2021, Healthgrades compared America’s Best Hospitals, as a group, to hospitals that did not receive the award. Healthgrades found that patients treated in America’s 250 Best Hospitals have on average significantly lower risks of dying. Here’s how significant:

Cardiac Care

Cardiac care is specialized treatment for people with serious heart disease, including heart attack and heart failure, as well as heart bypass surgery, valve surgery, and interventional procedures.

Patients who receive cardiac care in a Healthgrades America’s 250 Best Hospital have, on average, a significantly lower risk of dying than if they were treated in hospitals that did not receive the award:

  • Coronary interventional procedures: 17% lower risk of dying
  • Heart failure: 34.7% lower risk of dying

Critical Care

Critical care is specialized care for people with life-threatening illness or injuries, including respiratory failure, sepsis, and stroke.

Patients who receive critical care in a Healthgrades America’s 250 Best Hospital have, on average, a significantly lower risk of dying than if they were treated in hospitals that did not receive the award:

  • Sepsis: 26.5% lower risk of dying
  • Stroke: 30.3% lower risk of dying

Pulmonary Care

Pulmonary care is specialized care for people with respiratory illness, including pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Patients who receive pulmonary care in a Healthgrades America’s 250 Best Hospital have, on average, a significantly lower risk of dying than if they were treated in hospitals that did not receive the award:

  • COPD: 42.5% lower risk of dying

See who made this year’s list of America’s Best Hospitals.

Healthgrades is proud to present this year’s list of America’s Best Hospitals. From this list, you can specify your location and filter to see America’s 50 and 100 Best Hospitals. Additionally, all Healthgrades hospital profiles include star ratings based on data of actual results of real patients. That means Healthgrades can help you find the best hospital for what you need—and choose a doctor who can treat you there.

What if no hospitals in your area made the list?

The good news is if there isn’t a Healthgrades America’s Best Hospital in your area, you can still find hospitals that provide high-quality care by reviewing Healthgrades hospital performance star ratings. Look for hospitals rated 5 stars for the procedure or condition you need—this means the outcomes at the hospital for that procedure or condition are better than expected.

If you’re treated at a hospital with a 5-star rating in your condition or procedure, you have a much lower risk of dying or experiencing a complication than if you are treated at a lower-rated hospital for that condition or procedure. Use this quality information to compare hospitals and make an informed decision about where to seek treatment.

When planning hospital care, it may be simpler to rely on instinct, convenience and reputation. However, it is important to understand performance gaps exist between local area hospitals for specific conditions and procedures. When you (and your doctor) know about top-performing hospitals in your community, look to these centers of clinical excellence to support your health.

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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
  1. Statistics are based on Healthgrades analysis of MedPAR data for years 2017 through 2019 and represent 3-year estimates for Medicare patients only.
  2. How We Measure Hospital Quality, Hospital Quality Awards & Ratings. Healthgrades. https://www.healthgrades.com/quality/hospital-ratings-awards
  3. America's Best Hospitals 2021 Report: Creating a Culture of Excellence. Healthgrades. www.healthgrades.com/quality/americas-best-hospitals-2021-report