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Lown Institute names America’s most socially responsible hospitals. Here are the top 10.


The think tank unveils its annual rankings, with a couple of noteworthy changes this year.

The Lown Institute has released its latest compilation of America’s most socially responsible hospitals, and roughly 1 in 20 made it to the honor roll.

Image: Duke Regional Hospital

Duke Regional Hospital ranked at the top of the Lown Institute's list of America's most socially responsible hospitals. Duke reached the top for the second consecutive year.

A think tank focused on health equity, the Lown Institute unveiled its latest list Tuesday. The institute examined 2,784 acute care hospitals, with 154 making it to the honor roll.

Among the acute care hospitals, Duke Regional Hospital ranked first in the nation for the second consecutive year.

Vikas Saini, MD, president of the Lown Institute, said the ratings are designed to recognize hospitals that are focusing on health equity and closing disparities.

"One of our biggest takeaways of the past five years that we've been publishing this index has been, if you want to measure what matters, then you really have to include equity,” Saini said during a news conference. 

In compiling its rankings of hospitals, the institute weighs equity, value and outcomes.

But this year, the institute gave greater weight to performance in equity, which accounts for 40% of the grade of hospitals in social responsibility. The institute also reduced the weight of outcomes in its measurement, from 40% to 30%. Value remained 30% of the grade.

This year, the institute also added separate rankings for critical access hospitals for the first time. The institute looked at 800 small, rural hospitals and placed 40 on its honor roll.

“We've separated acute care hospitals and critical access hospitals. They're ranked separately, which I think is a great improvement to the rankings,” Saini said.

Some of the top ranking acute care hospitals offer instructive lessons for other hospitals, Saini noted.

He pointed to the University of New Mexico Sandoval Regional Medical Center, which ranked fifth on the national list for social responsibility. The medical center also ranked first among clinical outcomes in New Mexico.

“University of New Mexico reduced their readmission rates by connecting at-risk patients to transportation and temporary housing after discharge, among other programs,” Saini noted.

“Another good example is their sepsis reduction program,” he continued. “They brought their emergency and internal medicine teams together, and they reviewed all sepsis cases, and with feedback to providers, improved system processes and identifying ways to improve, they reduced sepsis deaths by 50%. And to any clinician, you’ve got to admit, that's an amazing result.”

All of the top 10 acute care hospitals are nonprofit hospitals, though Saini noted that some years have featured for-profit hospitals near the top.

While less than 1 in 5 hospitals are for-profit hospitals, those for-profit hospitals accounted for 36% of the hospitals earning a “D” in social responsibility, according to the institute.

Interestingly, Saini noted that most hospitals on the list are holding their own financially, even as they focus on providing care to underserved patients and communities. One hospital in the top 10, Suburban Community Hospital in Norristown, Pa., just outside Philadelphia, is being transitioned to a micro-hospital and will focus on emergency care, with just 10 inpatient beds.

“They're not all losing money despite their equity scores,” he said. “Only a few have had consistently negative income.”

Paul Hattis, a senior fellow at the Lown Institute, noted that none of the acute care hospitals in the top 10 are in large cities.

Here’s the Lown Institute’s rankings of the most socially responsible hospitals, and the top systems in social responsibility.

The top 10 acute care hospitals

Duke Regional Hospital (Durham, N.C.)

Baylor Scott & White Medical Center-Pflugerville (Pflugerville, Texas)

UCHealth Greeley Hospital (Greeley, Colo.)

Adventist Health Ukiah Valley (Ukiah, Calif.)

UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center (Rio Rancho, N.M.)

Suburban Community Hospital (Norristown, Pa.)

Cedar City Hospital (Cedar City, Utah)

Methodist Medical Center (Oak Ridge, Tenn.)

St. Luke’s Hospital-Upper Bucks Campus (Quakertown, Pa.)

Sonoma Valley Health Care District (Sonoma, Calif.)

Top 10 critical access hospitals

Sidney Health Center (Sidney, Mont.)

St. Luke’s Elmore Medical Center (Mountain Home, Idaho)

Whitman Hospital & Medical Center (Colfax, Wash.)

Sanford Luverne Medical Center (Luverne, Minn.)

St. Charles Madras (Madras, Ore.)

Marshall Medical Center (Lewisburg, Tenn.)

Sanford Canton-Inwood Medical Center (Canton, S.D.)

UCHealth Pikes Peak Regional Hospital (Woodland Park, Colo.)

Wayne County Hospital (Corydon, Iowa)

United Hospital District (Blue Earth, Minn.)

Top 10 hospital systems

Nebraska Medicine (Nebraska)

UCHealth (Colorado, Wyoming)

St. Luke’s University Health Network (Pennsylvania, New Jersey)

Lee Health (Florida)

Medstar Health (Maryland)

Covenant Health (Tennessee)

UNM Health (New Mexico)

Temple Health (Pennsylvania)UC Health (Cincinnati, Ohio)

WakeMed Health and Hospitals (North Carolina)

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