Photo: Flickr / Army Medicine
Whether you’re stuck with your health care provider’s preferred list of physicians or simply limited by where you’ve chosen to live, there’s a lot standing between you and finding exceptional medical care – unless you do your homework first.
Start with referrals
If you get your health coverage via your employer, it could be a smart idea to ask your coworkers which physicians they’ve loved and hated.
Referrals from friends and neighbours are highly common, but chances are they won’t understand your specific plan’s features and their personal doctors may not be covered under your insurance plan.
Turn to the Web
There are a host of online resources available that vet medical practitioners in just about every area of practice. Some insurance providers have their own ratings/review system, but here are a few good ones to bookmark:
ZocDoc – Plug in your provider, specialty and zip code and this site pumps out a list of all the doctors in your area. The reader reviews (ranked from one to five stars) are where you’ll want to look. Keep an eye out for patients complaining about misleading fees, poor bedside manner or a sloppy office.
BookOfDoctors – Doctors list their practices here and are at the mercy of patient reviews, which hone in on waiting room time, quality of care, timely responses, staff conduct, personal attention, etc.
Hospital Compare – This is an official site set up by the centres for Medicare and Medicaid services that ranks docs based on specialised measurement system, rather than patient reviews. There’s a special tab labelled “Quality of Care” that gives you a broad view of the hospital’s services in comparison to nearby competitors.
Your state’s Department of Health. Nearly every state has an official website for the Department Health. Visit yours for a list of doctors and any outstanding claims filed against him or her.