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How do you know if your doctor will give you quality care?

Whether you’re 20 or 80, receiving quality health care is important to you. But according to a recent survey, many Americans do not know how to tell if their doctor will give them high-quality care or even how to find that information in the first place. Fewer still are confident in online ratings for medical professionals -- even those given by the government.

One way in which many people determine the quality of a physician is through referrals from family or friends. Because they trust the person, they often trust the referral they give. But as was pointed out recently in an article by the Associated Press, just because a doctor is liked does not necessarily mean that they will provide high-quality care, nor does it mean that they are up to date on best practices in the health-care industry.

Online reviews and rating websites may present prospective patients with problems as well. Because most people do not know who is behind the customer review, a majority of people do not trust the information that is provided.

Although some states are trying to provide information about quality outcomes in certain group practices, it’s possible that some people do not know where to access this information or might not trust what is being presented to them.

Because it’s difficult to trust what we hear from friends and family or what we read online, some suggest that prospective patients do research on their own. On top of looking at years of experience, patients should contact the health care institution and inquire about the office’s practices, such as if they track patient outcomes, if they support safe and effective care, and what medical information the after-hours call taker has access to.

Asking these questions could give a person a better idea of how the physician or health group runs their practice and help them determine if they will receive high-quality care from them.

Source: The Associated Press, “Before Doctors Check Your Vitals, Check Out Theirs,” Lauren Neergaard and Jennifer Agiesta, July 20, 2014

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