Wisconsin News

Do you know how to find a good doctor?

Poll: 22 percent of people know where to look for good information

What Should You Look For In A Doctor

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - A new survey suggests searching for the right doctor may be harder than you think.   

A poll conducted by The Associated Press found that only 22 percent of respondents felt confident enough they could find information to compare the quality of local doctors.       

Whether it's surfing the Internet or asking friends, it can be a difficult task, especially when everyone is looking for something different.

When it comes to picking a health care provider, many people are looking for the same thing.

"Every single one of us wants a doctor who cares, who listens, who has good knowledge," said Marilu Bintz, the medical vice president for patient quality and safety at Gundersen Health System

But where do you go to find accurate information to help you compare local doctors?

"I don't generally look for a good doctor. I suppose the Yellow Pages," said Dan Lawrence.

"We kind of had to start by who does the insurance pay for," said Scott Heise.

 "You would definitely ask friends what they would recommend," said Marie Busack.

Figuring out where to find good information can be tricky especially when there are so many doctors to choose from.

"You may want someone who is always on time and pretty quick and to the point, or you may want someone who maybe running a little late sometimes for their appointments, but they are going to spend that extra time with you," said Shawn Dutchin, the practice operations director with Mayo Clinic Health System.

No matter what you are looking for, there is no organized way of finding which doctors are the best in terms of quality, safety and patient experience.

"Health care today has become so complicated that the quality data that is generated is really a reflection on the team that is taking care of you," said Bintz.

But there are certain steps you can take to better the odds when being referred to a specialist

"If I am a patient, very frequently my first step is to ask my personal doctor," said Bintz.

"They can coordinate your care, get the full scope that is going on and they can guide you or refer you to other specialties," said Dutchin.

If you aren't a patient yet, certain websites can help guide you in the right direction

"Go to websites that are reputable, that really deal with the ins and outs of health care and not just websites where people can post comments like 'the receptionist was rude' and that is it," said Bintz.

Some of those websites include Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality, Wisconsin Hospital Association and Hospital Compare.

"It's good information, it's valid information, it just may not give you the full scope," said Dutchin.

It may not be an easy task but experts say gather as much information as possible because any information can be valuable when trying to pick a perfect practitioner

To make it easier for patients in the future, Medicare is in the process of creating a program called Physician Compare.  The star rating system will include patient feedback and how satisfied they were with individual doctors. However, it's important to keep in mind, that rating may not have anything to do with the quality of care the doctor provides, but it will reflect how happy patients were with that particular doctor.      

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