By Santiago Mendoza, Jr.
While sitting at a physician’s office the other day, I observed two ladies in the waiting room doing what we (most men) don’t do well: communicate.
“I’m new to the area. Are you from around here?” said the first woman.
“Yes. I’ve lived here over 15 years,” responded the second woman.
I continued to listen to their interaction simply because there was nothing else for me to do. I already knew how many ceiling tiles were above me and I didn’t want to pick up one of the magazines next to me. I had already heard that Prince William had recently gotten married from my wife and daughter.
Anyway, the ladies’ conversation turned into a review of anything and everything, even health care. This is when they really got my attention.
“What doctor do you recommend for___?”
“What’s the best hospital in this area?”
“I’ve heard stories about (hospital)”
“Who’s your dentist?”
At this point, I couldn’t just sit there and not get involved in the conversation. Besides, this is my area of expertise. Luckily for them, I had my trusty iPad and was able to show them a website I share with everyone I meet that has questions about hospitals in the area: www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov.
According to Stephanie Cutter, former assistant to the President for special projects and a blogger on the White House.gov blog, “When you are sick and have to go to the hospital, you want to know that you’re getting the highest quality care. And if you’re choosing between hospitals, you should be able to make an informed choice and compare the quality of hospitals in your area. That is where Healthcare.gov comes in.”
By visiting HealthCare.gov, you can quickly access the Hospital Compare tool that analyzes and compares data about the quality of care at more than 4,700 hospitals across the country. Simply type your zip code or city and state to access a wealth of information, including a review of 44 quality measures, such as how well your local hospitals handle conditions like heart attacks and diabetes.
Hospital Compare has long been an important resource for patients and it’s only getting better. Since its inception, Hospital Compare has added new data on the use of medical imaging equipment like MRI machines, new information on the quality of care patients with suspected heart attacks receive and data about infection rates following outpatient surgeries.
Here is a step-by-step explanation of how to compare hospitals in your area (or anywhere in the country) to help you become a better educated health care consumer:
Log onto www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov
Enter the Zip Code you live in or city and state. I always leave the search type on “General.” The general search provides information on “Hospital Process of Care Measures,” “Hospital Outcome of Care Measures,” and “Survey of Patient’s Hospital Experience.”
Click “Find Hospitals.”
Select the top three hospitals in your area and click on “Compare” (it will only allow you to compare three hospitals at one time).
Once the data appears, I find it easier to click on “View Graphs” or “View Tables” in order to see if a hospital exceeded or fell under the Texas and/or national average.
It felt great sharing information with these two women that will help them make educated decisions when selecting a hospital for their health care needs. All in all, the conversation was beneficial to all those involved, as I walked away with an allergy-free blueberry muffin recipe that I will try this weekend and a lead on a potential new hair stylist for my wife.
Santiago Mendoza, Jr. is the COO, secretary and founder of Best Practices.