Tuesday, September 23, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Before doctors check your vitals, check out theirs

By
From page A4 | July 21, 2014 |

WASHINGTON — Americans consider insurance and a good bedside manner in choosing a doctor, but will that doctor provide high-quality care? A new poll shows that people don’t know how to determine that.

Being licensed and likable doesn’t necessarily mean a doctor is up to date on best practices. But consumers aren’t sure how to uncover much more. Just 22 percent of those questioned are confident they can find information to compare the quality of local doctors, according to the poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Today, 6 in 10 people say they trust doctor recommendations from friends or family, and nearly half value referrals from their regular physician. The poll found far fewer trust quality information from online patient reviews, health insurers, ratings web sites, the media, even the government.

“I usually go on references from somebody else, because it’s hard to track them any other way,” said Kenneth Murks, 58, of Lexington, Alabama. His mother suggested a bone and joint specialist after a car accident.

“I guess you can do some Internet searches now,” he added, but questions the accuracy of online reviews.

The United States spends more on health care than most developed nations, yet Americans don’t have better health to show for it. A recent government report found we miss out on 30 percent of the care recommended to prevent or treat common conditions. At the same time, we undergo lots of unneeded medical testing and outmoded or inappropriate therapies.

Yet people rarely see a problem. In the poll, only 4 percent said they receive poor quality care.

About half believe better care is more expensive, even as the government, insurers and health specialists are pushing for new systems to improve quality while holding down costs.

It’s hard to imagine buying a car without checking rankings, but checking out a doctor is much more difficult. Many specialists say standardized measures of health outcomes are key, though very little is available.

Doctors who listen are important, but “some of the nicest doctors are the least competent,” cautioned Dr. Elliott Fisher of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. Higher-quality care actually tends to be less expensive, by keeping people healthy and out of the hospital, and avoiding errors and the complications of unneeded care, he said.

It’s getting a little easier to compare multi-physician offices, if not individual doctors. Online report cards in a few states have begun offering some information on quality outcomes from group practices.

In Minnesota, for example, consumers can compare how many people have diabetes, high blood pressure and some other chronic conditions under control in different practices, plus how satisfied patients are. Report cards in California and Massachusetts add how well certain group practices follow guidelines on cancer screening and avoiding unneeded X-rays and MRIs for back pain.

By year’s end, Medicare plans to have released quality measurements for more than 160 large group practices, with more information on smaller clinics set for 2015. Called Physician Compare, the online star ratings also will include patient feedback.

The goal is to spur better care as doctors check out the competition.

The arrival of large amounts of quality information “is a big deal. It’s a huge shift in terms of transparency and driving quality improvement,” Dr. Patrick Conway, Medicare’s chief medical officer, told the AP.

Consumers think it would help. More than 7 in 10 say quality would improve if doctors had to publicly report their patients’ health outcomes and how satisfied they are.

The AP-NORC Center poll found about 1 in 5 Americans recall seeing information comparing the quality of health providers in the last year. Nearly half aren’t confident they even could learn if their doctor had been disciplined. (Some state licensing boards offer free online searches; the Federation of State Medical Boards provides reports for a fee.)

In choosing a doctor, not surprisingly the top factor is insurance coverage, the poll found. For the uninsured, it’s cost.

Eight in 10 look for the doctor’s experience with a specific procedure. A nearly equal number say bedside manner – their impression after a face-to-face meeting and how much time is spent with a patient – is crucial. About three-quarters say a helpful office staff and how long it takes to get an appointment are important. A majority, 62 percent, also factor how long they sat in the waiting room.

Asked the characteristics of a high-quality doctor, a good listener is by far the top answer. Others value the right diagnosis, a caring attitude, a good bedside manner and knowledge, in that order.

“Some don’t even give you the time of day. They just look at you and write you a prescription,” said Vince Jimenez, 51, of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

When his primary care physician retired, Jimenez got a reference for a new doctor but checked online for complaints. “You can’t believe one person, but if there’s a bunch of people, if there’s a lot of complaints,” he said he’d pay attention.

Dartmouth’s Fisher said consumers should ask how the office – the doctor’s team – supports safe and effective care: Are patient outcomes tracked? Do they check on patients with chronic diseases between visits? Does the person taking after-hours calls know what medications you take?

“We tend to think, ‘Oh our friend had a great experience with this doctor.’ But I’d encourage people to think about the systems around that as well,” he said.

The AP-NORC Center survey was conducted with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which has financed projects to publicly report data on care quality.

It was conducted by telephone May 27 to June 18 among a random national sample of 1,002 adults. Results for the full survey have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.0 percentage points. It is larger for subgroups.

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

US / World

California wildfire crews brace for weather shift

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
LA County sheriff’s deputies testing body cameras

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Bear suspected to have killed New Jersey hiker

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Poll: Support for gay marriage may be leveling off

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Islamic State militants kill 40 Iraqi troops

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Sierra Leone, Liberia brace for new Ebola cases

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Islamist group kidnaps Frenchman in Algeria

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 3 Comments | Gallery

Pennsylvania governor confident ambush suspect will be caught

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Focus on UVa employee in student’s disappearance

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Prosecutor: 800 rounds found in intruder case

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 1 Comment | Gallery

Islamic State offensive poses problems for Turkey

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Study links changing winds to warming in Pacific

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Crews work to clear debris from Shasta mudslide

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
.

Opinion

Editorial cartoon for Sept. 23, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page:

 
Academia needs to act to protect college women

By Dan K. Thomasson | From Page:

 
.

Living

Today in History: Sept. 23, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Community Calendar: Sept. 23, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page:

 
Horoscopes: Sept. 23, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B7

.

Entertainment

Kris Jenner files to divorce Bruce Jenner

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Alaska TV reporter quits on air to promote pot

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Shonda Rhimes lays claim to Thursday nights on ABC

By Frazier Moore | From Page: | Gallery

 
Giuliani to help fight Noriega’s video game suit

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

‘The Lion King’ earns record box office

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Eric Lynch, Howard Stern’s diminutive foil, dies

By The Associated Press | From Page:

TVGrid Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
.

Sports

Giants get closer, beat Dodgers 5-2 in 13 innings

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Prep boys water polo: Mustangs go 3-0 in Dixon tourney

By Daily Republic staff | From Page:

 
Prep boys soccer: Mustangs hold Indians to 0-0 draw

By Daily Republic staff | From Page:

 
MNF: Bears hold on to beat Jets 27-19

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Jeff Samardzija pitches A’s past Angels 8-4

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Nebraska’s Abdullah: Jameis Winston must grow up

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Raiders have to settle for moral victory

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Home of 49ers lineman Ray McDonald burglarized

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 1 Comment

Undisciplined play sends 49ers to 1-2 start

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Kicking game: It is called football, after all

By Barry Wilner | From Page:

US Soccer stands by Solo decision

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
FIFA ethics judge hesitates on World Cup

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Braves fire GM Frank Wren after missing playoffs

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Royals beat Indians 2-0, gain on Tigers

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Bettman says NHL proactive about off-ice conduct

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Silver: NBA will review domestic violence policies

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Concern over McIlroy, McDowell more about results

By The Associated Press | From Page:

NFL vetting process: There are no sure things

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Owner: ‘No misinformation’ by Ravens on Rice

By The Associated Press | From Page:

This date in sports history for Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Kent creates scholarship for Cal women’s athletics

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
.

Business

Treasury to unveil steps to curb tax inversions

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Tesco suspends execs over inflated profit report

By The Associated Press | From Page:

GM expert says 21 deaths eligible for compensation

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Apple: 10 million iPhone 6 and 6 Plus sold

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 1 Comment

US existing home sales fall in August

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Investors fret Yahoo’s future, stock dips

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Businesses and investors pressing for green policy

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Garfield Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Baldo Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Dilbert Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Baby Blues Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Cryptoquote Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Beetle Bailey Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Zits Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Crossword Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Bridge Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Word Sleuth Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Frank and Ernest Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Pickles Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

For Better or Worse Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Rose is Rose Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Sally Forth Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Get Fuzzy Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Sudoku Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
B.C. Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Wizard of Id Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Blondie Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Peanuts Sept 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6