From the GIC Summer 2006 Newsletter file size 1MB
Patients who are actively involved in their medical care tend to have better outcomes. If you have been diagnosed with a particular disease, you may want to do research about your condition to find out about your disease, treatment options, and side effects. Armed with this knowledge, you can have more productive discussions with your health care team, and make the most of your doctor visits.
Check with your health plan to find out which physicians and hospitals have been rated as offering cost-effective, quality care.
The Internet offers a wealth of information, but much of it is unreliable. Make sure you find out who is maintaining the site. Sites funded by pharmaceutical companies may have helpful information, but be aware that the motivation for the site may be to sell their products. The following sources of information provide credible information to help you take charge of your health:
Condition-specific organizations: These organizations produce consumer-oriented materials about the condition and sponsor patient support groups. Some renowned organizations include the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, and National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Leapfrog Group: This site compares hospitals on safety measures proven to reduce medical errors.
Your health plan's website: Many GIC health plan websites now provide research tools for members. Most of these sites enable you to compare hospital treatment outcomes for specific diagnoses or procedures. The GIC website also includes a hospital comparison tool. Follow the instructions and enter the word "quality" as your password. Be aware that some of these commercial sites organize their evaluations differently from one another, so don't be concerned if you get some differences in opinion.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Hospital Compare website : This site provides information on how well area hospitals care for their adult patients with certain medical conditions. Find out how often hospitals provided recommended treatments for heart attacks, heart failure, pneumonia, and surgery.
The Massachusetts Health Quality Partners website provides survey summaries on patients' experiences with primary care physicians for over 400 Massachusetts doctors' offices. Additionally, the site provides performance comparisons on providing preventive and chronic disease services for 150 Massachusetts medical groups.
The Commonwealth's Health Care Quality and Cost website provides quality and cost data on Massachusetts hospitals for common conditions and procedures. It also lists the number of procedures that physicians perform. The site is continually updated to include the most current data available.
This information provided by the Group Insurance Commission.