Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center officials have a lot to be happy about.
The cancer center posted solid operating results for the pandemic’s second year, seeing more patients than it did two years ago and managing to log a net surplus of $35.5 million on a record $1.12 billion in revenues for the fiscal year ended March 31.
Roswell, however, also recently got some news that, perhaps, bruised its ego: Roswell Park fell out of the Top 50 cancer hospitals as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.
The 2022-23 rankings labeled Roswell as “high performing in cancer,” but did not assign the cancer center a numbered ranking.
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According to Roswell Park’s most recent annual financial report, the cancer center was ranked No. 34 in 2021, No. 14 in 2020 and 2019, and also made the Top 50 in 2017 and 2018, as well as six years in a row from 2010 to 2015. That indicates that the last time Roswell – a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center – wasn’t in the Top 50 was in 2016.
In a statement, Roswell Park President and CEO Candace Johnson pointed out that the longtime Buffalo institution still stands in the top 8% among 914 cancer centers nationwide. Further, Roswell received the high-performing designation from U.S. News & World Report in colon cancer surgery, lung cancer surgery, ovarian cancer surgery and prostate cancer surgery.
“Together, we’ve achieved recognitions few other centers have,” Johnson said. “We’re proud of our record of achievement and of consistently exceptional care.”
U.S. News lists the cancer hospitals by an overall score, but only assigns rankings to the Top 50.
The No. 1 cancer hospital was University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, which received a perfect score of 100, while second-ranked Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City received an 85.7.
The 50th-ranked cancer hospital was Lenox Hill Hospital at Northwell Health in New York City, which received a score of 54.1.
Roswell wasn’t too far behind, with an overall score of 48.9.
In the 2021-22 rankings, when Roswell ranked No. 34, the Buffalo cancer center scored 56.8.
Roswell also wasn’t the only cancer center to fall out of the Top 50 this year.
Also dropping out of the Top 50 (with their 2021-22 rankings in parenthesis) and now labeled high performing: University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital (tied for 27th last year); University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center in Cleveland (38th); MUSC Health-University Medical Center in Charleston, S.C. (39th); Mayo Clinic-Jacksonville (46th); University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (47th); and UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital (50th).
U.S. News & World Report, which has published hospital rankings annually since 1990, evaluates hospitals in more than 30 medical and surgical services.
The group also ranks hospitals by 15 adult specialties, such as cancer, cardiology and heart surgery, and neurology and neurosurgery.
Larry Zielinski, a health care administration expert at University at Buffalo and a former Buffalo General Medical Center president, said the U.S. News cancer hospital rankings take into account topics such as nurse staffing and outcome-based data such as patient survival rates and discharging patients to their homes. The rankings, he said, also still rely on a more subjective physician survey and the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems patient satisfaction surveys.
Experts have long advised patients to use the hospital rankings as a starting point to make health care decisions. While the U.S. News & World Report rankings are just one of many, hospitals zone in on the rankings and – when things go well – use them to recruit physicians and to market to patients.
In other words, it’s a love-hate relationship.
“In sum, every hospital wants to be in the top of these surveys, and trumpets their results when they are,” Zielinski said. “When they aren’t, they are, of course, downplayed. I think they have a role in educating patients, particularly those focused on objective measures and outcomes.”
As Zielinski notes, a hospital that does well issues a news release, seizing a marketing opportunity.
That’s what Kaleida Health did the day the rankings came out on July 26.
Kaleida touted that its Buffalo General Medical Center ranked No. 21 in New York in the annual Best Hospitals rankings. The evaluation of Buffalo General also included data from Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, DeGraff Medical Park and Oishei Children’s Hospital.
Buffalo General received high-performing ratings in 13 adult procedures and conditions, including aortic valve surgery, heart attack and stroke.
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Recent news tied to Buffalo Niagara’s economy
Part of the reason a labor deal has been difficult to reach at Kaleida? A health system with ‘fragile’ finances and burned-out employees.
But Kaleida and the unions agree on one thing: WNY hospitals need more state funding.
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Environmental cleanup costs are driving up the price of a North Tonawanda apartment project.
Five reads from Buffalo Next:
1. ‘Cancer didn’t stop during Covid’: Roswell Park’s patient volume in its last fiscal year exceeded its pre-pandemic totals two years ago. That, coupled with full restoration of operating support from New York, led to a surplus.
2. Why are car washes popping up all over the Buffalo Niagara region? There’s a gusher of money from deep-pocketed investors that’s helping regional and national chains expand into new markets, while mom-and-pop operators also are trying to cash in.
3. The local housing market is still going strong, although it has started to show signs that it is cooling down from its red-hot status of last year.
4. At Moog, a homegrown company takes off: With good-paying jobs, strong customer connections and technical expertise, Moog’s operations are the type of manufacturing that the region’s business recruiters are eager for more of.
5. Rich Products relies on innovation and new products to keep its business growing – and a good portion of those efforts are based in Buffalo.
Buffalo Next reporters Jonathan D. Epstein, Jon Harris, Natalie Brophy, Matt Glynn, Janet Gramza, Samantha Christmann and Mike Petro contributed to this roundup.
The Buffalo Next team gives you the big picture on the region’s economic revitalization. Email tips to [email protected] or reach Deputy Business Editor David Robinson at 716-849-4435.
Email tips to [email protected].