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Hospital Rankings FAQ
Written by Naoum Issa, MD, PhD   

A FAQ for the NetDoc.com Hospital Rankings tool - how best to use it to compare hospitals.

Hospital Rankings FAQ

Q. How do you use the hospital ranking tool?

A. Go to http://www.netdoc.com/hospital-rankings/, enter your 5-digit zip code into the search box, and press "submit". A map will come up with circles over hospital locations.

Green circles represent the hospitals with the best performance, red represents the worst performance, and yellow intermediate performance.

Q. How much does it cost?

A. Nothing, it's free. 

Q. Where did the data for these rankings come from?

A. These rankings are built off of data publicly available from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The data was provided to DHHS voluntarily by hospitals, as part of their requirements to receive the incentive payment established by Section 501(b) of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA). You can find more information on the data collection process at the DHHS website.

Q. A recent study said hospital ranking websites aren't very good - is this tool any good?

A. Short answer - yes, it's good, but not complete or perfect.

Long answer - a recent study by Leonardi et al. (Arch Surg. 2007;142(9):863-869) looked at hospital comparison websites and found that different tools produced different results. They found that government and non-profit sites did the best at providing access and transparency, but proprietary sites covered a wider variety of hospital measures. In short, it seems, that the government data was better but covered only a small number of measures, while private sites covered a wider range of hospital procedures but had a smaller sample size.

You can read an article on this topic at the NetDoc.com Medical News page: Study of Hospital Ranking Websites

The NetDoc.com hospital ranking tool relies on public, government collected data, so falls into the first group - good data but on a small sample of measures.

Q. This or that hospital doesn't show up - why not?

A. There are a lot of hospitals in our database - but not all of them are there. Hospitals might be missing for a variety of reasons. For example, they might not have volunteered their information, or the hospital's address might not resolve to a location on a map (eg. a P.O. Box might be listed by the hospital).

Q. How often is the data updated?

A. We will update the data base yearly, when new data is released by the DHHS.

Q. How did you make that map?

A. We used a Joomla! component for Google Maps provided by Firestorm Technologies.

Q. Can we use this tool on a third-party website?

A. We consider licensing the Hospital Rankings tool on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us for more information (NetDoc contact).

Q. Can this tool be used in a research project?

A. Feel free to use the tool on this site for research, but keep in mind that we cannot guarantee the data. You should go to the original source to confirm your findings (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services).

If you do use this in a published report, please reference the tool and provide a link as follows:

URL: http://www.netdoc.com/hospital-rankings/

Title: NetDoc.com Hospital Rankings Tool

Depending on the research project we might be able to provide some technical support, but this is decided on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us for more information (NetDoc contact).

Q. Can I leave feedback on the tool?

A. Please do! Leave a comment on the NetDoc.com discussion forum

 
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