What to Know When Choosing a Health Care Provider

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Story Updated: Jan 16, 2013

(NewsUSA) - Consumers are more concerned than ever about making the right health care decisions, yet a national study from Healthgrades suggests that people actually spend more time researching their refrigerator purchase than their health care provider.

"When people aren't properly informed, they tend to choose convenience over quality," explains Dr. Archelle Georgiou, "Instead of using objective measures of performance such as mortality and complication rates, patients select providers who are covered under their insurance and located close to them. Unfortunately, this approach often results in dissatisfaction and poor outcomes."

According to Dr. Georgiou, there are three primary reasons why many patients fail to find a quality health care provider: 1. They are unaware that objective performance information is available; 2. They have a misperception that their insurance doesn't offer a choice; 3. They confuse convenience and quality.

However, patients do not have to remain uninformed or misguided. Nearly 90 percent of those surveyed by Healthgrades agreed they would be able to make better choices regarding their health care if they knew more about doctors' and hospitals' quality outcomes.

To better equip Americans to make suitable choices about their health care, Healthgrades published the American Hospital Quality Outcomes 2013, which examines how some 4,500 hospitals across the country compare to each other. The report uses risk-adjusted mortality and complication rates to evaluate the care for 30 of the most common conditions and procedures. Hospitals that perform above average receive five stars; those that perform below average get one star.

Georgiou believes, patients should evaluate similar factors when selecting doctors, too. "Patients must decide whether the doctor is the right doctor for them," Georgiou says. "Is the doctor board-certified? What is their sub-specialty? Have they done surgeries just like this one? Do they have excessive numbers of malpractice cases? How do patients rate their experience with them? "

If you need help finding qualified physicians and high-performing hospitals in your community, go to www.healthgrades.com. The site will identify local specialists with information on their qualifications, hospital affiliations and patient experience survey results.

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