Here at Texas Children’s Hospital, we talk quite a bit about our U.S.News and World Report ranking and its importance. Each year, approximately 184 freestanding children’s hospitals in the country submit data on 10 pediatric subspecialties. For each of those subspecialties, teams of leaders, clinicians and employees are working together all year long to gather and validate our data, analyze our results as compared to our peers, look at best practices and determine what improvements we need to hard wire into our care processes. And as we begin a new fiscal year, we consider the impact this year’s results will have.
The U.S. News Best Children’s Hospitals rankings measure and cast a spotlight on the quality of our patient care and on our patients’ outcomes. In the 2015-2016 rankings, Texas Children’s Hospital maintained the no. 4 spot in the nation. Let me say that again: no. 4 in the nation. And we were once again listed on the Honor Roll, which recognizes hospitals that rank in the top 10 percent in at least three specialties. We had six services in the top 10 percent, and three achieved the no. 2 ranking in the country.
Now I’ll admit I like to be first as much as anyone, and here at Texas Children’s where we are an organization of high achieving, passionate team members who lead tirelessly day in and day out, it rankles us just a bit that we keep coming in fourth. But let’s explore what being no. 4 in the nation really means.
From a measurement perspective, our survey results demonstrate how hard we’re working as an organization to deliver high quality care to our patients. The more consistently we deliver high quality care and the safer we deliver that care to our patients, the better their outcomes are, and the better our overall numbers are. Our rankings in the 10 subspecialty areas included in the survey are the result of a methodology that weighs outcome and care-related measures, such as nursing care, advanced technology, credentialing, outcomes, best practices, infection prevention, and reputation, among other factors.
And when you consider what’s measured by the survey and our relatively short history as a children’s hospital, you can appreciate what an incredible reflection our no. 4 ranking really is – particularly in comparison with the esteemed institutions that sit at nos. 1, 2 and 3, including Boston Children’s Hospital, founded in 1869; Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, founded in 1855; and Cincinnati Children’s, founded in 1883.
Think about it. We were founded many decades later in 1954. Yet, here we stand on par with the other preeminent teaching children’s hospitals in the U.S. We debuted on U.S. News’ first honor roll in 2009, alongside these three historic pediatric centers. Today, Texas Children’s is world renowned for our advancements in pediatric subspecialty care.
Our ranking is just one aspect of our incredible trajectory and just one reflection of the many amazing advancements of our clinical programs, our employees, and of the gifted physicians, scientists and clinical staff who serve our patients. In six decades, we’ve done just about as well as any children’s hospital in the United States, maybe even the world.
To some, the survey might still appear to simply be a contest of “popularity.” And for many years, the methodology did indeed focus primarily on hospitals’ reputational scores. But what used to be a contest of popularity, has become a national benchmark survey that heavily scores clinical outcomes, best practices and infection prevention. These are quality and safety indicators that mean the difference for every patient in our care and drive each of us in our work every day.
So I believe we absolutely should take great pride in being no. 4, but I also believe “just about as well as” is not good enough when we consider the precious lives in our hands. The responsibility is ours – not to figure out how to be no. 1, but to raise our performance bar on quality patient care, on consistency and on overall excellence as an organization.
We must constantly question ourselves and our colleagues about how we can make the care processes better for our patients. Are there certain structures that we should pay attention to? Are there outcomes around which we should drive higher performance? What do our survey results suggest we can do better? And not just for the 10 subspecialties this survey focuses on – we are striving for the same high quality in all 40 of Texas Children’s pediatric subspecialties. Our rankings are a reflection of our actions and our focus. If we keep both on course, the numbers will follow.
Our national ranking is important – but it is not the end game. It is not why we care, why we drive ourselves to constantly do better. Our pursuits and our actions here at Texas Children’s are not for prizes or recognition, but rather for the fulfillment of our mission. We are driven by an intense desire to ensure the best possible outcomes for every child, woman and family who comes hopeful and expectant to our doorstep. And our “prize” is actually in the improved quality of life they’re afforded because we’ve given them our best.