I'm increasingly learning more about healthcare through important physician writers like Atul Gawande, Bob Wachter, as well as Pauline Chen. In Dr. Chen's most recent NY Times article, she highlights favorite website of doctors. It's an excellent list that all patients should reference.
In a time when patients can access quickly a vast amount of information using the internet (especially Google), it is vitally important that they have a list of trustworthy resources which are worth the time, particularly since some information on the internet is frankly wrong and preys on people's false hopes.
The experts quoted in the article note that there are real differences among healthcare providers (doctors, hospitals, insurers) in providing great care beyond the bedside manner. In other words, healthcare providers like other goods and services we purchase are not all the same with some far better than others.
With the economic and financial crisis we are all facing, it is important that as we select doctors, insurers, and hospitals that we research which ones provide us the best value and service in keeping us healthy and well.
I would only add another excellent website, particularly when researching the best health insurance plan is at www.ncqa.org, the National Committee for Quality Assurance. NCQA is a not-for-profit organization that rates health insurance plans on how well they keep people healthy and those who have problems like diabetes, asthma, heart disease that they get the most up-to-date care.
It also has under the Report Cards section the Physician Recognition Program. These are doctors who have voluntarily submitted their patient charts to NCQA on various conditions like diabetes, heart disease, to name and few, and have shown that they consistently provide the level of care recommended by expert committees of the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association. Research consistently shows that we only get the recommended preventive care only about half the time in this country. If you are spending a lot for healthcare, shouldn't you get the doctors who consistently provide the highest quality of care?