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Mission Control / Healthcare

It’s Time to Rethink Your Hospital System’s Approach to U.S. News & World Report Rankings

Reputation matters more than you think — and, in some cases, is the only thing that’ll earn you a spot on the coveted list.

US News Rankings Healthcare

By Katie Bridges

Which institution should you choose for your treatment if you’ve been diagnosed with a life-threatening or rare condition and need a hospital that excels in treating complex, high-risk cases? U.S. News & World Report addresses that question each year in its Best Hospitals rankings — which means that each year, hospital marketers are sent scurrying on a mission to ensure that their system makes an appearance on the list.

Why is this a task for hospital marketers, not administrators? It’s because a large portion of the rankings in the 15 recognized specialties comes from votes cast online by physicians with up-to-date Doximity profiles — a data point the folks at U.S. News call “expert opinion.”

In fact, the rankings for three of the specialties — ophthalmology, psychiatry and rheumatology — are based solely on this “expert opinion.” The remaining 12 specialties take into account other objective points, “based largely on survival rates for particularly challenging patients, patient experience and other measures of performance that can be assessed using hard data,” according to U.S. News’ methodology.

With the ranking being weighted so heavily on physicians’ opinions, it’s essential to put some muscle behind your hospital’s reputation efforts — particularly as voting season draws near.

Employ Targeted Digital Campaigns to Increase Visibility

The most important thing you can do in the months leading up to the big vote is keep your hospital’s name top-of-mind — and in a way that boosts reputation in key specialties. The precise targeting that digital ads afford allows you to deliver relevant messaging to specialists who will be casting votes in their field. You could ensure that regional cardiologists know that you’re the world leader in heart transplant, for example, or that neurologists are aware that your physician-scientists are investigating new systems to refine high-risk endovascular procedures, as we’ve helped Vanderbilt University Medical Center do via Discover, their physician-focused content hub.

Double-Down on Referring Providers and Alumni

The network of physicians who are already affiliated with your institution are your biggest ally, as these individuals are the most likely to cast a vote in your name. Create a multi-touch effort to activate this network, providing information on how and when to vote — and why to vote. Direct them to up-to-date content — like the content we help UT Southwestern Medical Center create on relevant research advances and clinical innovations — to bring them up to speed and incentivize them to take action.

Use Email to Your Advantage

Physicians are busy. While they may not have time to sit down and read a medical journal, they are likely to engage with a specialty-focused e-newsletter delivered to their inbox. “Specialty-focused” is key here: What’s helpful to an ophthalmologist isn’t necessarily applicable to a nephrologist’s caseload. While there are AMA-authorized physician database licensees that you can pay to access, owned email lists promise higher deliverability and engagement. A secondary goal of your pre-vote campaigns, therefore, should be to drive email sign-up conversions to boost your owned lists.

Engaging Content Is the Key to It All

Content that connects physicians to your institution in a way that’s both useful to their practices and a complement to your reputation marketing efforts is the key — not only during voting season, but all year round.

Boost Your Reputation with Quality Content

We can create content that shines a light on your healthcare organization’s specific specialties and innovative breakthroughs.


Katie Bridges Overlay Blue
Katie Bridges Managing Editor

Katie has almost a decade of editorial experience, spending most of those years as an editor at regional magazines. A Georgetown University grad, she helps guide digital and print content programs from concept to completion for C/A clients such as Vanderbilt Health, Niagara Falls USA and Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation. She has written for Garden & Gun, Washingtonian and Arkansas Life, among others.

The mother of two young girls, Katie can most often be found on a hiking trail with her family (Sedona’s a favorite). She’s a Southerner through and through, and the only member of the C/A team who uses the word “y’all” with abandon.

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