Why This Matters


But how you measure "good" matters.

The Covid-19 pandemic made it clearer than ever that hospitals play a vital role in community health. Hospitals had to make significant changes in order to save lives, and many of them stepped up to the challenge. They turned to cooperation instead of competition, prioritized safety over elective procedures, and took in everyone who needed care regardless of income, race, or insurance status. 

Coming out of the pandemic, hospitals have the opportunity to make these changes permanent, and embrace their role as socially responsible institutions. Our communities still urgently need socially responsible hospitals: hospitals that provide high-quality care to all, pay their workers fairly, avoid harmful unnecessary procedures, and invest generously in community health. 

The Lown Institute Hospitals Index is the first ranking to define standards for hospital social responsibility by examining performance across health outcomes, value, and equity. It’s time to hold hospitals to a higher standard; the Lown Institute Hospitals Index can help them achieve it.



Socially responsible hospitals care for all the people in their surrounding community who need medical treatment, especially those impacted by structural racism and poverty. The Lown Index is the first hospital ranking to take into account how well hospitals serve people of lower income or education levels, and people of color.  

Avoiding Overuse

Socially responsible hospitals should provide patients with all the care they need, and none that they do not. The Lown Institute Hospitals Index is the first hospital ranking to evaluate hospitals based on their delivery of 12 commonly overused services, including unnecessary hysterectomy, coronary stenting, head imaging for fainting, and more.

A man stares up as he lies on the operating table.

Community Benefit

Nonprofit hospitals are expected to provide charity care and other community benefits, to maintain their tax-exempt status. However, the amount that hospitals spend on care for the uninsured and other community health needs varies widely. The Lown Institute Hospitals Index is the first hospital ranking to take into account how much hospitals spend on charity care and other community health programs, as well as the proportion of low-income patients they serve.

Mary Bassett
FXB Center, Harvard University

When hospitals take excellent care of patients regardless of race, income, or insurance, our whole communities grow healthier."

Understand the Rankings

The Lown Index rolls up scores from 42 detailed metrics, 8 components, and 3 categories to create an overall composite score.