Yahoo Released Its Best Hospital List: Do You Care?
Posted Sun, Jul 25, 2010

Yahoo just released its current report: Best Hospitals (in the U.S.) 2010-11: the Honor Roll. There were no surprises although I believe I could find another 14 hospitals equally good. The list includes John Hopkins, Mayo Clinic- Rochester, Mass General, Cleveland Clinic and others; and much as I see the logic in this list I also see the perverse irrationality in its construction.
For instance: why does Yahoo publish this? Is it an interesting item that sells advertising? Is it a public service? Since there are only 3 hospitals in the West (2 in Calfornia and 1 in seattle) and 2 in the Midwest, and the rest are on the east coast, am I to believe that people are going to travel coast to coast to go to a best hospital?
More important, who takes these evaluations seriously? The reality is these hospitals are the site of origin of many of the clinical studies in the United States and cultivate much of the innovative brain power in medical care. Yet only 1 in 4 Americans with cancer will consent to enter a clinical study and less than 20% of women with breast cancer do so. The reality is these university health systems have partnerships with community hospitals that are laced with financial incentives and the university systems would not impugn the reputation of any clinical hospital for fear of economic reprisal. And another reality is that there is economic competition between community based physicians and university based physicians and it is not in the economic interest of community based physicians to promote the services of the university health system.
Then there is the issue of unaffordable health care and a health care bill passed by the Obama administration that ignores the main causes of runaway health care costs and rewards the beneficiaries of the system. I am referring to the health insurance companies and the trial lawyers who lobby through the trial lawyer associations and its many euphemistic marketing organizations. It cannot go unnoticed that both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are attorneys and have supported the heavy contributors to their election campaigns (I bring in Clinton since she was Obama’s main competitor for the Democratic nomination).
Ultimately it is my judgment that the awarding of kudos to what are in fact excellent centers of medical care are just so many marketing ploys to promote the interests of marketing companies (i.e. Yahoo) and political interests. I sense that it is unlikely that we will either address the real issues of disparity in the availability of superior health care or address the issues of educating a poorly informed public as to their more rational choices in times of serious illness.

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Edward Lack
Edward Lack MD is a board certified dermatologist and a board certified dermatologic cosmetic surgeon. He is President and Medical Director of MetropolitanMD, a multispecialty cosmetic surgery center in Chicago,which is unique in having a double board certified cosmetic dermatologic surgeon, a double board certified facial plastic surgeon, and a double board certified cosmetic plastic surgeon. Dr. Lack is also the Past President of The American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery.

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