6 things to remember when choosing good health care

When people research hospitals, they find a huge amount of data. Many groups grade hospitals on giving good, safe care.

That data is here to stay – and its intended to help.

"In the past decade, hospitals have been called upon to clearly communicate quality information, such as infections, re-admissions and surgery success," said Robert Healy, MD, chief medical quality officer at Carle.

"We embrace transparency and want our patients well-informed when they choose where to get their health care."

Many groups rate hospitals, such as U.S. News & World Report, which just listed Carle in Best Hospitals 2016-2017. Earlier this year, Healthgrades listed Carle as one of America’s 50 Best Hospitals, and specifically praised Carle for excellent stroke care, critical care and pulmonary care.

So, what should people believe?

"No matter what report people read, they must consider six questions when choosing a hospital or surgeon," Dr. Healy said.

  1. How many procedures does the hospital or surgeon perform?
  2. Does the hospital have a strong record of providing care in a safe and effective way? 
  3. Is the hospital accredited by Det Norske Veritas Germanischer Lloyd Healthcare, Inc.?
  4. Does the hospital have a good reputation for providing courteous, patient-centered care? 
  5. Is the hospital highly respected by watchdog groups?
  6. What do friends and family think of a hospital or surgeon?

Primary care physicians are also a good resource.

"Doctors know if a hospital and its specialists are skilled. Personal physicians keep their patients' best interest in mind," Dr. Healy explained.

It doesn’t hurt to call a hospital or doctor and ask tough questions, Sid Kirchheimer said in an AARP blog.

“(Patients) might also get recommendations from the local chapters of condition-centric groups such as the American Cancer Society or American Heart Association,” Kirchheimer wrote.

But with all the research at patients’ fingertips, it ultimately comes down to relationships.

“The patient must feel comfortable and safe with a doctor and hospital," Dr. Healy concluded.