Top Hospitals 2014 - Health & Wellness - Atlanta Magazine

Top Hospitals 2014

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Advice from Healthgrades: How to select a doctor

Choosing a doctor is one of the most important and personal decisions you can make. But how do you make an informed decision about selecting a doctor that best meets your needs? There are five different considerations that will help you find your best match. We call them the five Ps:

Professional. Consider a doctor’s credentials; look for one who is board certified. Why? All doctors graduate with an MD after their names and have a license to practice. But board certification is the only way to be sure a doctor is competent in his or her specialty.

Practice. Make sure a doctor’s specialty focus meets your needs. If you need back surgery, pick an orthopedist specializing in backs rather than one specializing in sports medicine or knee injuries. If you are a woman having issues with hot flashes, find a gynecologist with a special interest in treating menopause versus one whose practice focuses on delivering babies.

‣ Procedures. Learn how many of a specific procedure the doctor has performed. Here’s why this is important: The volume of procedures is correlated with results. Studies show that cardiac surgeons with the best outcomes should do at least 100 to 125 procedures a year to remain competent. There isn’t a specific number for each procedure, but, as with any skill, practice gets closer to perfect.

Performance. How do the hospitals that the doctor uses perform? Physicians typically do procedures at more than one hospital—and not all perform equally. So it’s important to check on the hospital’s track record because it’s the skill of the doctor and the coordination of care in the hospital that influence the outcome of your stay.

Personal. How well do the styles of the doctor and team meet your needs? Look at statistics regarding other patients’ experiences. How well does the doctor communicate and explain treatment options? It’s also important to consider how the office staff members interact with patients and how easy it is to get an appointment.

Even with a finite list of in-network hospitals and doctors covered by insurance, there’s choice. Arm yourself with information. Check out for specifics on doctors in your area and know before you go.

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