While several suburban hospitals Tuesday ranked among the best when U.S. News and World Report released its 2014-2015 Best Hospitals list, experts viewed it as just a small part of how patients should make a decision when choosing a hospital to treat cancer, diabetes, and other diseases or conditions.
Consumers are encouraged to look at a variety of surveys and sources before selecting a hospital for treatment, said Danny Chun, spokesman for Naperville-based Illinois Hospital Association.
Top local hospitalsHere is a list of the magazine's top hospitals in the Chicago and suburban region:
1. Northwestern Memorial Hospital
2. Rush University Medical Center
3. Advocate Christ Medical Center
3. Loyola University Medical Center
5. St. Alexius Medical Center
6. University of Chicago Medical Center
7. Advocate Lutheran General Hospital
7. Alexian Brothers Medical Center
9. Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center
9. Cadence Health-Central DuPage Hospital
9. NorthShore Evanston Hospital
Source: U.S. News & World Report
Chun said some reliable sources include Hospital Compare, from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the Illinois Hospital Report Card and Consumer Guide to Health Care from the Illinois Department of Public Health.
"Consumers should not rely on any one set of ratings," Chun said. "They should consult multiple sources and talk to their doctor for information on best practices."
There is no "one-rating-fits-all" approach to selecting a good hospital, Chun said. He declined to comment on the U.S. News & World Report rankings.
On Tuesday, a number of health care systems quickly touted their rankings on the U.S. News listings. U.S. News looked at 16 specialties and ranked the top 50 in most of the specialties. About 3 percent of the nearly 5,000 hospitals that were analyzed earned national ranking in one specialty. And high-ranking hospitals quickly touted this as a badge of honor.
Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago was among the top 10 nationwide.
Also, five hospitals within the Downers Grove-based Advocate Health Care system were among the top 25 hospitals in the area: Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn at No. 3, Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge at No. 7, Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center on Chicago's North Side at No. 9, Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove at No. 14 and Advocate Good Shepherd in Barrington at No. 23.
In addition, Alexian Brothers Health System's St. Alexius Medical Center in Hoffman Estates ranked No. 5 and Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village was No. 7 in the region.
As for specialties, Northwest Community was No. 44 for nose and throat care, St. Alexius was No. 22 for gastroenterology, and Central DuPage was No. 28 for orthopedics.
It is difficult to determine if high rankings on such a list would eventually translate into financial gain for the hospitals. Instead, the rankings contribute more to feelings of pride and recognition, said St. Alexius CEO Len Wilk.
"Over the past five years, we've see more patients coming in with a better understanding of patient safety and quality care," Wilk said. "But there is still a reliance on community reputation. This is a very well-known listing, and it encompasses a lot for us."
The hospital uses such rankings to focus on what they're doing well and what they can do even better, especially with best practices and reliability of the system, said Wilk.
"It's a never-ending journey to get better and better," Wilk said.
The listing "reflects the dedication and teamwork of our physicians, nurses, other medical professionals and associates, who are committed to consistently delivering advanced, high-quality care to the patients and communities we serve," Mark A. Frey, president and chief executive officer of Alexian Brothers Health System said in a statement.
Advocate Lutheran General also viewed the U.S. News ranking as a boost of confidence in the community and not something that could lead to financial gain, said President Rick Floyd.
"It's hard to know if patients come here based on the survey. We'd have to ask everyone who comes through our registration," said Floyd. "But there are a number of these rankings and they provide more and more data, and that just helps promote more confidence and trust when consumers are faced with serious health issues. They may even be willing to travel farther to us."
• Daily Herald Staff Writer Jamie Sotonoff contributed to this report.