When Being the Best Isn’t Good Enough

by JHI Staff on July 18, 2013

When U.S. News & World Report’s “best hospital” rankings came out last year, I took the occasion to note here in this blog that The Johns Hopkins Hospital, after more than two decades of being the top-ranked hospital in the U.S., was knocked down to number two, behind Massachusetts General, following a methodology change in the ranking system.

Well, this year’s rankings are out, and I won’t pretend to be anything other than proud that we’re back to being ranked as the best hospital in the U.S.

It’s only fair to mention, however, that we need to be careful about reading too much into rankings, which are subject to a number of biases and interpretations. We know there are always ways in which we can, and must, do better. For one thing, medicine and health care are constantly identifying new treatments and practices, thanks in large part to the vast research enterprise going on here at Johns Hopkins and at many academic medical centers around the U.S. and the world. But in addition, this is a time of enormous challenge for health care, one in which we are trying to extend high-quality care to more people, improve health outcomes across the board, and—perhaps most challenging—do it while driving down costs and increasing value.

What’s more, whatever we achieve as a health care provider, as a research institution, and as a source of medical education in and around Baltimore, it wouldn’t by any means completely fulfill the Johns Hopkins Medicine mission. This institution has clearly stated from day one of our 124 years that it is dedicated to improving the health of all humanity. Whatever we can do for patients here, we will still have far to go as long as patients everywhere can’t get the same great care from their local hospitals and clinics. And ultimately, as part of that goal, we want to help ensure that populations everywhere are served by their own superb medical schools and top-notch medical research programs, because the best hospitals are dependent on them.

It would be nice to hang onto our top ranking in the years to come. But what’s more important is that we make progress in our broader mission, here and abroad—and let humanity be the winner.


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