I still like a combination though of word of mouth and what is available on the web.  2nd opinions are still very much alive and well if you feel you need one.  Some of the ratings on hospitals and physicians on the web can be misleading to some degree though, so be sure and read thoroughly as some post ratings based on mortality may not have told the entire story for surgeons for example.  The condition and demographic representation of the patients make a big difference as well, so be thorough and just ask questions too.  As the article states, insurer's rankings can be controversial as they may be marketing influenced to some degree, so an impartial listing is probably going to be one of the safest bets for information.  Be sure your provider is a good listener.  BD

Even in this digital age — when one can get the temperature in Kuala Lumpur or the Zuma Beach surf report at the click of a button — most people still rely on word of mouth to pick their doctor or check up on their local hospital.
Others choose from lists provided by their health plans, cross their fingers and, well, hope for the best.
Increasingly, insurers, the government and other sources are providing information, especially on the Internet, about the quality of the nation's doctors and hospitals — details that were simply unavailable a decade ago.

A good place to start is with the state medical board. It generally provides the basics of a doctor's biography, location and education.

How well do you know your healthcare provider? - Los Angeles Times


Related Story:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/24/AR2007072402545.html

After 26 years of a successful medical practice, Alan Berkenwald took for granted that he had a good reputation. But last month he was told he didn't measure up -- by a new computerized rating system.

A patient said an insurance company had added $10 to the cost of seeing Berkenwald instead of other physicians in his western Massachusetts town because the system had demoted him to its Tier 2 for quality.

The effort is more about cutting costs than raising quality, some say, adding that doctors could begin to "cherry pick" healthier patients whose problems are less costly to treat. Such systems fail to capture the intangibles of quality, such as a doctor who visits a dying patient at home, critics say.

Hat Tip:  Kevin, MD


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