Dr. Kevin Most: Choosing a doctor and hospital

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Dr. Kevin Most on the Steve Cochran Show

As Steve has spent the better part of a week in the hospital, I am sure we may discuss that. I thought we might also discuss choosing a physician , and hospital. I don’t want this to be about Northwestern and CDH but more generic for all of your listeners on what they can and should do.

Thoughts?? I will clean it up and add more tomorrow. Just had time tonight as the Hawks are sucking right now

It is amazing that we will travel 30 miles to go to a restaurant that has a great rating on Yelp. We will do research on the hotels we are going to stay in for vacation, but we accept healthcare with little input or research

You know when you check into a hotel you have a great idea of the experience you are going to have. You know the price of the room and the quality of the restaurants. You know about the amenities, the quality of the staff or at least the reputation of the staff the health club, the neighborhood etc. If I asked you about your doctor or hospital could you answer the same questions?

I doubt it , and if you do the data source may not be ideal. The web sites that rate doctors are truly flawed. Anyone can go in and make a rating and make comments about the doctor, even if they never saw the doctor ! So if the on line rating is not a good source, how do you pick a doctor? I have a few suggestions. The first is a simple one, find a nurse or doctor that you know and ask them who their doctor is or who they would suggest based on your desire about practice style or size. Many individuals want a doctor of the same sex, many want a small group, others want a doctor at a specific site. For primary care doctors this is important as this doctor may be your doctor for decades.

It is also important to make sure that the doctor is contracted with the insurance you currently have. The unfortunate thing is that there are so many insurance plans now that the physician may be in a plan this year and out the next year forcing you to pick another doctor.

So if you don’t know a doctor or nurse what other information can you use? Well each hospital has a web site and they always have a “Find a Doc” link, this allows you to see a photo of the physician, how long in practice, location , where they trained and if they are board certified. This may be helpful as some sites also list the insurances they take. You can also go to your insurance web site and start with a list of doctors that currently are in the plan.

More importantly is what hospital is the physician on staff at and if they see patients in the hospital. Many primary care doctors no longer care for patients in the hospital, they rely on a group of specialists termed “hospitalists” to care for their patients when they are in the hospital. It is important that you understand and know who will be caring for you if you were to be hospitalized.

The other important physician is the specialist you may need. Your primary care physician will act as a concierge for any specialist decision. Your primary care physician knows what your desires are and also knows the options of specialists, it is there job to match you to the one that will fill your needs medically as well as personally. This is important as compliance for any medical condition and care is based on how much the patient trusts the team caring for them.

Now often we don’t have much choice of a hospital, with an emergency, the ambulance is going to take you to the nearest hospital without much input from you. This is the analogy of you are traveling and you stop and there is only one hotel with a room for you so you have to take it. For these conditions you have no choice so make sure you buy a house near a great hospital.

The bigger decision is what hospital would you go to if you were to have an elective procedure or surgery, this is probably more important as you control this decision. This is a decision that goes beyond location, it also goes beyond just your doctor. The important things are looking into the safety record of the hospital, the CMS rating of the hospital and probably the most important is the status of the nursing staff. You want to find a hospital that is a Magnet hospital. Magnet is the highest acknowledgement that a hospital can achieve. Only 7% of hospitals are Magnet certified. You all know how much I appreciate and respect the care that nurses deliver.

Take a morning to visit the hospital you would be sent to if an emergency came up. Walk thru the hospital, is it clean? Is the staff smiling? Have breakfast or lunch in the cafeteria. Check it out. Look at their Leapfrog score, check out their CMS star rating. You want to know these things, most people when buying a house look at the schools, I suggest they also look at the hospitals before deciding on a house purchase.