Two Chicago hospitals — Northwestern Memorial and Rush University Medical Center — are again among the top 20 in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Northwestern was named as the ninth best hospital in the country, up one spot from 10th last year, and the top facility in Illinois for the 11th consecutive year. Rush earned the title of 20th best hospital in the U.S., down from 19th last year. Rush was named the No. 2 best hospital in Illinois.
A number of Illinois hospitals were also ranked highly, but didn’t make the top 20 nationally. University of Chicago Medical Center ranked third in the state; NorthShore University HealthSystem ranked fourth; and Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn rounded out the top five in Illinois. NorthShore’s ranking included four of its hospitals combined, in Evanston, Glenview, Skokie and Highland Park, because they all share one Medicare ID.
The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Streeterville was again ranked the best rehabilitation hospital in the country for a jaw-dropping 32nd time in a row.
U.S. News evaluates hospitals based on their performance across 15 specialties, such as urology, neurology and neurosurgery, and orthopedics, as well as 20 surgeries and conditions. U.S. News evaluates the hospitals’ performance by looking at data from Medicare, patient satisfaction surveys and the American Hospital Association Annual Survey, among other sources. It also takes reputation into account, as measured by opinion surveys of board-certified physicians.
Many hospitals keep a close eye on their ratings from U.S. News and other organizations, especially in places like the Chicago area where there’s a lot of competition among health care providers. Hospitals often tout high marks in their advertising to attract more patients.
Experts say rankings and ratings can be important tools for patients, along with other factors such as physician referrals and insurance coverage, when choosing where to receive care.
“I think it’s just recognition of the great work of those who are serving the patients,” said Dr. James Adams, chief medical officer and senior vice president at Northwestern Medicine, of Northwestern’s top honors again this year.
He said the last couple of years have been difficult, with the pandemic straining health care workers. “But the quest to improve, to innovate, to deliver great care day-to-day is part of the DNA of the organization and the individuals who work here,” he said.
Rush is also proud to again be among the top 20 in the nation, especially given the stress of the pandemic, said Dr. Paul Casey, chief medical officer at Rush University Medical Center.
“The past couple years have just been so challenging in health care overall, and I think the relentless focus on quality and safety is what has allowed us to accomplish and achieve what we’ve accomplished in this latest accolade,” Casey said.
Rush slipped one spot nationally from 19th last year to 20th this year, with Casey noting that the differences in performance between some of the top 20 hospitals are often very small.
He also said that it can be tough for a hospital like Rush to crack the top 10 nationally, given that reputation is one of the measures used. Rush may not have the same national name recognition as some other hospitals.
That, however, may be changing given the attention Rush received from national media and physicians across the country during the pandemic, said Rush spokesman Tobin Klinger. Early in the pandemic, Rush was treating many of the state’s COVID-19 patients partly because of its unique building design, which allowed it to expand its ICU beds and emergency services. During the first wave of COVID-19, Rush took about 1,000 patients transferred from other area hospitals, Casey said.
Casey also noted that this year 10 of Rush’s specialties ranked among the top 50 in the nation, with many of those placing more highly than they did last year. Two Rush specialties ranked among the top 10 in the country, with neurology and neurosurgery ranking fourth, and orthopedics ranking fifth.
Northwestern Memorial also had 10 specialties among the top 50 nationally, with six among the top 10 in the country, including cancer; cardiology and heart surgery; diabetes and endocrinology; gastroenterology and GI surgery; geriatrics; and neurology and neurosurgery.
A number of organizations rank and rate hospitals each year, including U.S. News, the Leapfrog Group and Medicare — sometimes with differing results, given that they use different methodologies. For example, Leapfrog gave Northwestern Memorial a grade of C in its most recent ratings for safety.
Nationally, U.S. News rated the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and NYU Langone Hospitals in New York as the three best in the country, respectively.