How To Window-Shop For Healthcare

By Dr. Tim Bartholow

When we need a new refrigerator, or a family car, we act like smart consumers: we seek quality info and opinions before making a decision.

We go online, window-shop, kick tires. We check Consumer Reports or JD Power for ratings. We look for the best deal on the best brand.

Why all the fuss? Because each dollar is precious. And because not all cars, camping equipment, and cell phone plans are made the same.

Not all healthcare is the same

Likewise, some healthcare is better than others. We need the same due diligence when choosing a clinic or our family doctor (one of the most important healthcare decisions we will ever make). To help inform your choice, take a look at quality measures.

How can you find out how Wisconsin clinics measure up against each other? Start shopping here: MyHealthWI.org

Where WI can shop for healthcare

MyHealthWI.org is one new resource designed to help us find the best healthcare, and help doctors strive to perform even better. Currently, the site only gives ratings on Internal Medicine, Family Medicine and Pediatrics.

But the site does show you how providers compare to like providers in others areas of the state, and how clinics measure up to available benchmarks of care. It even gives you useful hints on how to talk with your doctor and get the most out of a visit.

Best of all, the site gives one-of-a-kind information to show how well doctors' offices care for their patients-and that's what you really want to know, isn't it?

How does MyHealthWI.org rate?

Before I came to the Trust, I was the Chief Medical Officer for the Wisconsin Medical Society which helped mature the Wisconsin Health Information Organization (WHIO). I mention WHIO because they maintain MyHealthWi.org. And in the spirit of being a discerning consumer, I must be honest about what the site doesn't do so well… at least, not yet.

Right now, MyHealthWI.org ratings of provider groups, not individual docs, focus on some but not all elements of quality that may be important to you.

Why are ratings so important?

Of course, the measure of a good doctor takes into consideration your personal relationship, not just quality metrics. But ratings help us all make smarter choices. Ratings give us confidence. And knowing how clinics rate is a good starting point that gets us closer to the ultimate goal: finding the right primary care doctor.

I challenge you to think about what healthcare you "buy." Participate with a doctor in your health decisions. Do those two things, and you'll play an important role in improving the quality and efficiency of healthcare in Wisconsin.

Want to know 3 ways to save on drugs? Check out my next blog.

Until then… shop, compare, and take care.

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Healthcare Shopping Ratings Doctors Health-Plan


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