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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Billboards all over the metro can be seen promoting hospitals as “Best Hospitals” in the rankings from U.S. News and World Report, but there’s something that some hospitals and U.S. News won’t tell you.

The University of Kansas Hospital is proud that U.S. News ranked it in the top 50 nationwide in a dozen specialties.  St. Luke’s is touting its rankings in three specialties.  Children’s Mercy is happy to tell you that it’s ranked in nine pediatric specialties.

A K.U. Hospital spokesperson emphasizes that hospitals do not pay a dime to be ranked by U.S. News.

“All of that is earned, and they are numbers we’re really quite proud of,” said Jill Chadwick.

But hospitals do pay U.S. News if they want to use the “Best Hospitals” logo in advertising.  Chadwick would not say how much K.U. Hospital pays.

“We’re not allowed to say because it’s a contractual agreement.  I think it’s absolutely appropriate for businesses to expect if you’re going to use their logo that there are restrictions put with that use of the logo,” she said.

St. Luke’s also told us that all terms and conditions of the license are confidential.

A professor of healthcare administration at Park University said that’s a lack of transparency.

“I think if you really wanted to be completely transparent, you would say how much,” said Dr. Suzanne Discenza.

She said even if the money doesn’t influence rankings, not revealing the amount paid raises doubts.

“I better look at this a little bit further before I just utilize the fact that this is in “Best Hospitals”,” said Dr. Discenza.

As for Children’s Mercy, a spokesperson said it was not restricted from telling FOX 4 how much it spent to use the logo.  It was $42,000 for one year.  The spokesperson said it’s a small price to pay to be able to tell the world about the hospital’s excellence.

A spokesperson for U.S. News told FOX 4 it does not release information about logo licensing.

Discenza said when choosing a hospital, look at more than one ratings service.  Each compiles the ratings in a different way.  Also, look for information on the specific medical procedure you’re having.