Boston named top US hospital city, Raleigh dead last

By | October 16, 2019

Dive Brief:

  • Boston has the best hospitals in the United States and second-best in the world, as ranked by digital healthcare company Medbelle on a series of metrics including medical workforce, education, quality of care, satisfaction, treatment efficacy, accessibility and more.
  • The U.S. overall scores highly for infrastructure and quality of care, but rang in dead last for healthcare access compared to other countries. On that metric, the 20th worst ranked cities in the world were all from the United States, three-year-old United Kingdom-based Medbelle found.
  • The ranking of quality looked at patient satisfaction, the rate of adverse events due to medical treatment and cancer treatment efficacy; and access by compounding the Health Access and Quality index, the Economist Intelligence Unit’s equity of access to healthcare score and U.S. News’ Health Care Access Rankings, along with costs of drugs and discretionary healthcare spending per capita in the metropolitan area.

Dive Insight:

Americans are generally overconfident when describing healthcare quality in the U.S. Roughly half of the country believes the quality of medical services is either the “best in the world” or “among the best,” according to an April survey from nonprofit West Health and Gallup.

However, the U.S. ranks first among the 36 OECD developed nations in healthcare cost, not healthcare quality.  The U.S. is much closer to the bottom on quality metrics, though this new Medbelle study illustrates how specific cities such as Boston stand out.

In the overall U.S. rankings of major cities, Boston is followed by Los Angeles, New York, Baltimore, Chicago, San Francisco, Ann Arbor, Michigan; San Jose, California; Houston and Seattle. New Orleans netted the penultimate slot and Raleigh, North Carolina, came in dead last.

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Boston has a number of highly regarded hospitals, including Massachusetts General, Brigham & Women’s and Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center. According to U.S. News, Mass General is the second best hospital in the country, after Rochester, Minnesota-based Mayo Clinic.

Hospital and health system rankings are controversial as the debate over how to judge quality healthcare continues to rage in the U.S, fueling perennial concerns about accuracy. In 2017, Chicago-based nonprofit Saint Anthony Hospital sued Leapfrog Group for defamation after seeing its grade drop from an A to a C.

In terms of cities ranked on quality of care alone, Baltimore came in sixth in the world and Boston came in ninth. Boston came in first for best medical universities, Los Angeles came in third and New York came in fourth.

Tokyo was ranked the top hospital city in the world.

“It’s easy to see that while some cities boast an outstanding hospital ecosystem, accessibility can be another story entirely,” Daniel Kolb, co-founder and managing director of Medbelle. “America has one of the highest-quality hospital infrastructures in the world, yet in terms of access to all citizens, USA benchmarks well below other developed countries.”

Houston, for example, is in the top 15 for world-class hospitals, but ranks second to last in terms of access.

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