The New York Times provide a wealth of good information in a recent article about how to select a good physician and hospital (see: In Search of a Good Doctor) I can't do it justice in this short note so read the whole thing, if you are interested. It lists a number of key web sites that can be utilized for information. Listed below are a few of the recommendation that I have distilled from the article about how to seek top quality medical care:
- You can use Hospital Compare, a service of HHS, to evaluate the quality of hospitals in your neighborhood. I have discussed this web site in a previous note (see: Reduced Cost of Offshore Surgical Procedures Puts Pressure on U.S. Hospitals to Compete).
- Browse the web to gain knowledge about various diseases and current methods of treatment in order to become "part of the medical team" and therefore engage with your healthcare providers in a meaningful way.
- Choose a high quality primary care physician (PCP) to provide advice and "help you navigate through our challenging but complex healthcare system."
- One way to help assess the quality of individual physicians is to establish whether he or she is board certified. However, board certification is only one indication of quality and it’s certainly no guarantee.
- Ask your local hospital for a list of board-certified internists or other types of specialists who have admitting admitting privileges to that hospital.
- The last and most critical part of selecting a physician is the first appointment, at which time you can evaluate his or her style and knowledge.
If I were personally seeking care for cancer, I would get myself to a specialized cancer hospital or clinic, even if it involved some travel. In my personal opinion, there are four criteria to keep in mind when seeking the best cancer treatment: (1) physicians and staff at the facility should treat many patients per week with the same or similar diagnosis as yours; (2) the physicians should pride themselves on being up-to-date on the latest research and treatment of your disease as well as available clinical trials; (3) there should be little or no direct connection between the treatment being offered to you and the salary of the treating physicians, and (4) your treatment plan should be developed by a multi-specialty panel of physicians working in the facility, resulting in a more nuanced and balanced approach.