By Mary Kate McGrath - November 19, 2019
Physicians want to work at the top-ranked hospitals, with state-of-the-art facilities, well-trained teams, high success rates for treatments, and a comprehensive safety plan for workers. Rates of workplace violence are higher on average in healthcare than in other professions - incidents of serious workplace violence occur four times as often than in the private sector. New safety concerns, from the impact of physician burnout on patient care, to a severe weather event shifting hospital care on campus, can impact a hospital's overall ranking. For nurses and physicians making decisions about a job, these rankings matter, and safety managers should evaluate how security planning can benefit overall healthcare ecosystem.
Every year, U.S. News ranks the best hospitals in the United States, creating a guide to help patients and their doctors make informed decisions about care. The publication used a patient-centered methodology for the 2019/2020 rankings, including an enhanced risk-adjustment model that accounted for differences in patient populations and streamlined the procedure for outcome measurement.
Among the top hospitals in the United States were Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York and UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. It’s not a coincidence these hospitals are often in cities or regions with a high-ranked medical care system overall. Hospital facilities and patient success are often enriched by a strong healthcare ecosystem, and when it comes to medical decisions, patients or doctors may want to consider regional rankings as well.
In 2019, MedBelle ranked the top hospital city rankings, focused on the overall hospital ecosystem for the area, instead of just individual hospitals. The organization ranked hospital ecosystems by quality, accessibility, and ecosystem, and studied all hospitals within a city, meaning in order for an area to rank high, the city must deliver high-quality medical care to all residents. Researchers determined the ranking by analyzing:
Each factor was scored out of 100 as part of the scoring system, and the higher the ranking, the better the city’s overall infrastructure. The score was determined by each university or hospital, and based on their position in rankings using GIS technology to determine the metropolitan area. The top 10 ranked cities in the United States were as follows:
MedBelle weighed a number of factors to determine quality of hospital care. Factors included hospital beds/per capita, top-ranking medical universities, top-ranking hospitals treatment efficiency sample, nurses per capita, surgeons per capita, access, cost of medicine, satisfaction, mental health specialists per capita, adverse events, and discretionary healthcare spending. Each individual factor was given a score out of 100, and the higher the figure, the better a region performed. Boston, the top city on the list, received a 100 score for infrastructure, 92.8 for quality of care, and a 61.96 for total access, accumulating in a total of 99.64.
Among the major considerations was hospital infrastructure, which includes everything facilities and physician-to-patient ratios. The number of registered nurses per capita within the city, and the number of general surgeons in the city, also impact the score a city received. Nurse-to-patient ratios have become a topic that is often considered in workplace safety precautions, and it makes sense that staffing would be among the chief considerations researchers made. If the city was home to a major medical university or training hospital, it would also be ranked higher by the organization.
Patient outcomes were also key to conducting hospital research. Measuring satisfaction, including how satisfied patients are with hospitals in the city, combining data from the IPSOS National Satisfaction Survey and local patient surveys. If rates of adverse events related to medical injury were low, this too would be factored into the ranking. Cancer treatment success was also considered given that it is among the most common illness facing patients in the United States today. Overall, hospitals looking to boost infrastructure, whether it is through managing staffing needs or improving care, should consider how technology can make improvements.
Technology can play a major role in improving safety for healthcare workers, from mitigating worker burnout to managing a severe weather event. A mass notification system can play a critical role in keeping patients and staff informed during a crisis and can prove particularly useful in managing emergency communications across medical school facilities, which are often a critical component of a high hospital ranking. For example, during Hurricane Florence, the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) managed to keep operations running by leveraging mass notification.
The campus updated the medical community - both hospital employees, as well as students in medical residencies or who had class on the facility campus, throughout the storm. Ahead of the storm, safety managers sent out daily messages with storm updates and resources to help the community stay safe. During the Hurricane, the team changed focus to provide transportation updates and traffic reports, which was critical for keeping operations running.
A safety app for workers can also promote a positive work environment for healthcare employees. The app would be a way for employees to communicate any issues on the hospital campus to safety managers, including infrastructure needs, such as additional staff in certain departments. An anonymous two-way tip texting system would encourage employees to report instance of workplace violence. For many, the persistent stigma about these incidents being “part of the job” may prevent workers from reporting important safety concerns to hospital managers, and providing an anonymous tool is one way to combat the stigma. By implementing this technology, facilities can better manage worker needs and concerns, contributing to a stronger hospital system overall.
Mary Kate is a content specialist and social media manager for the Rave Mobile Safety team. She writes about public safety for the state & local and education spheres.
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