When you want to buy a car, you can test-drive a variety of vehicles before you make your choice. When you need a new pair of jeans, you can try on styles by various designers in pursuit of that perfect fit. But when you have a health problem that cannot be ignored, you can’t give hospitals or doctors a similar trial run. How do you choose which is best to treat your specific ailment?
The answer, of course, is complex. Once you’ve found out which professionals and institutions are covered by your healthcare plan, it’s not uncommon to ask friends or family members for referrals. But while word of mouth is undeniably valuable, more comprehensive “referral” resources do exist—and may make all the difference in your quality of treatment.
Say you live in the Chicago metropolitan area, and traveling for the best locally available care is not an issue. Hospital Compare was created through the efforts of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the United States Department of Health & Human Services and other members of the Hospital Quality Alliance (HQA). Here, users will find a wealth of information submitted by hospitals—cold, hard facts on hospital quality, procedure by procedure and hospital by hospital. The site presents accumulated data from hospitals on an aggregate of procedures and allows users to view side-by-side comparisons of hospitals.
In addition to such objective data, the CMS site (cms.hhs.gov) also includes the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Health Providers and Systems (HCAHPS), a national, standardized survey of hospital patients. The survey covers 18 substantive items that encompass critical aspects of the hospital experience including communication with doctors, communication with nurses, responsiveness of hospital staff, cleanliness and quietness of hospital environment, pain management, communication.
Below is a list of online resources:
Allergies and Asthma
End of Life Decisions
Rape Victim Support
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Submissions for the resource page should be sent to Staff@ChicagoHealthOnline.com Email This Post
Some maladies might not need the services (or the cost) of a hospital emergency room.
—Nancy Maes The Internet offers an array of websites designed to help patients evaluate doctors and
-A response from our editor In the Spring 2011 issue of Chicago Health, we printed a story
—Nancy Maes When you want to buy a car, you can test-drive a variety of vehicles