Web Sites Provide Data on Physicians, Hospitals
Health "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" the Los Angeles Times reports.
According to the Times, many of the "more sophisticated tools are still in their early stages, and the information they provide can be incomplete," but, with a "little homework, ... consumers can get their hands on all kinds of information" on the quality of physicians and hospitals.
Consumers can examine state medical board Web sites, which often provide information about medical malpractice claims and disciplinary actions against physicians. In addition, consumers can examine Web sites sponsored by health insurers, the federal government and private companies that rank physicians and hospitals based on quality measures.
Sarah Loughran, executive vice president of Health Grades, said, "The fact is health care consumers need more information. Can you imagine buying a car and not being able to research it beforehand?"
Maribeth Shannon, director of the Market and Policy Monitor program at the California HealthCare Foundation, added, "More transparency about the quality of care helps patients make more informed decisions" (Costello, Los Angeles Times, 7/22).