Study Urges Patients to Look to Websites for Care

For most people, finding a doctor is typically based on a referral from a family member, friend or another health professional. The reality, however, is that the face of health care is changing, and now it’s more important than ever to understand your choices.

With the wealth of information available on websites like Healthgrades (www.healthgrades.com), an online resource that provides consumers with information about doctors and hospitals, there is no reason that consumers should not treat their health care the same way they treat other purchases—by performing their due diligence and being proactive when choosing their provider and plan.

For example, a recent report by Healthgrades reveals that hospital selection can dramatically affect a patient’s health, in that individuals are far more likely to die or suffer complications at hospitals receiving lower ratings.

“We urge consumers to do their homework when choosing a plan to find out which physicians are covered and whether … the physician practices at a hospital with a low risk of mortality or complications,” says Roger Holstein, CEO of Healthgrades. “Choosing a plan is not just about cost,” he adds, “consumers should pick their providers before choosing a plan, and Healthgrades should be their first stop.”

Sadly, most people are unaware that their choice of a physician is directly linked to the their choice of a hospital, and in turn, its importance in predicting better outcomes.

Highlighting this point is a recent study by Harris Interactive, which found that fewer than half of Americans over age 26 gather extensive and detailed information before selecting a hospital or physician, and are more likely to choose a hospital based on convenience or copay versus data. Yet, the decision could mean the difference between life and death.

“Consumers need accurate information to make meaningful choices between plans,” says Archelle Georgiou, M.D., Strategic Advisor, Healthgrades. “With the Affordable Care Act expanding access to care, it’s more important than ever to understand your options, including the quality of care offered at the hospitals and affiliated physicians in your plan.”

Interestingly, the Healthgrades report notes that better quality can result in lower overall costs, stating that the direct cost of caring for a patient who experiences a complication is, on average, nearly twice the cost of caring for those patients who did not experience a problem.

For more information, visit www.healthgrades.com/quality.

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