Friday, October 17, 2014

From Passive Patient to Savvy Healthcare Consumer: How to Seek and Find the Best Care

Dr. Gourdine met with us yesterday to teach us how to seek and find the best medical care. This was Dr. Gourdine's second visit to ASHA. I shared a little about her impressive background when I summarized her last presentation How to Be the CEO of Your Health

Yesterday, we walked away away better equipped to:
  • Distinguish among an empowered patient, an engaged patient, and a savvy healthcare consumer.
  • Define quality healthcare.
  • Identify and use reliable sources for choosing the best doctor.
  • Talk to our providers about safe care.
  • Identify and use reliable sources for choosing a safe hospital.
  • Define the role of a hospitalist.

An empowered patient is informed, speaks up, asks questions, and makes sure he/she fully understands all aspects of his/her care. To be empowered, you must first be an engaged patient and have the knowledge, skills and tools to take charge of your health. Engaged patients have fewer hospital admissions, fewer ER visits, better preventive care and lower medical costs. But, what does it mean to be a savvy healthcare consumer? Savvy consumers:

  1. Select quality providers
  2. Seek care from the highest quality hospitals and facilities when they need it.
  3. Are educated about procedures and alternatives.
  4. Estimate the total cost and out-of-pocket costs of their care.

So, what is quality healthcare? There are two main types of quality measures -- consumer ratings that tell you what people think about the care they received and performance measure that evaluate how well a doctor, health plan or hospital prevents and treats illness. Many of the resources we first think of like publications that list top doctors are more popularity contest or paid advertising than an indication of quality. Dr. Gourdine provided us a number of reliable resources to help us select top quality doctors and hospitals. 

So, how do you chose a doctor? 

  • First, identify your own health priorities. AHRQ has a nice tool
  • Look at the Unitedhealthcare website to find providers that are in-network. Look for providers that are designated as Tier 1 which indicates that they have received a premium designation for quality and cost efficiency.
  • Review information on the AMA website. Many doctors are not AMA members. You can still find them in the directory, but there is limited information about them available.
  • Check out the doctor on Health Grades to learn more about their background and read reviews from patients. 
  • You can also look at the Medicare physician compare website
  • And, Rate MDs

What reliable resources are available for choosing a hospital?

Dr. Gourdine has compiled a more comprehensive list of resources in the last few slides of her presentation. I encourage you to take a few minutes to view it. 

We look forward to having her back at ASHA next year. If there is a particular topic you'd like to have her speak about, please let me know. We feel very fortunate to have someone with her expertise available to help us. 

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