Where Should I Get My Medical Care?

Where Should I Get My Medical Care?

I don’t feel well. What do I do now?

Where should I go for my care? That is a loaded question. Do you have a choice?

  • Don’t have a choice – Trauma, Medicaid, where your physician has privileges
  • Have a choice – How do you find out where to go

Yep – super user friendly.

Using Hospital Compare from the CMS website, users can compare hospitals against a number of variables. This tool is also available for nursing homes

I am a nurse. If someone…anyone in my family gets sick, I get a phone call, an email or a text. What should I do? Where should I go? Do you know anyone at (insert hospital name here)? For the most part, I do know what to do. I do not have all of the medical answers, for sure, but I can do a quick enough triage to know whether I have enough information to make a decision. Go to the emergency room. Make an appointment. Get a referral for a specialist. I agree with your doctor.

What if you don’t have a nurse or other medical professional in the family? How do you know where to go? How do you even know if you have a choice? These are questions asked every day by people who are likely already stressed out by some health concern.

Luckily, if you have access to the internet, there is a wealth of information at your fingertips….if you know where to look.

The first question to ask is, “Do I have a choice of where to get my care?” That is a tricky question. It is best to check with your insurer to see which facilities are considered in-network. That will help keep your costs down for elective procedures. If you have a Primary Care Physician (PCP), ask where they “have privileges” to practice. This means they can be your primary doctor while you are in the hospital. Some PCPs do not practice in the hospital and leave the job of in-hospital care to a group of “Hospitalists.”

Urgent and Emergent Care is another whole can of worms and perhaps the topic of another blog. Suffice it to say that The Affordable Care Act of 2009 requires that insurers cover emergent care regardless of location or whether the provider in a location is in or out of network. If you need to go to the Emergency Room, call 911 or go to the nearest one!

Let’s get back to finding the best place for an elective procedure or hospital stay due for a non-urgent issue. Head to the Medicare website, “Hospital Compare” and follow along. After entering your zip code, you can see, at a glance, how many hospitals there are in a 25 mile radius, a list of those hospitals and a few key data points. Select the button to add up to 3 hospitals to your comparison list. I have my 3. Do you? Yes? Ok, now select . Across the top of the page, you will see seven tabs with different topics. Here are my tips for viewing this section.

  1. You will not notice much variation in any of the Acute Care Hospitals’ General Information. Skip it!
  2. The next tab is “Survey of Patients’ Experiences.”
    1. These are results of the “Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems” surveys.
    2. The results are much like when you go to the car dealership and they ask you for a 5 out of 5 rating. The same thing is true here. Notice words like “Always,” “Strongly Agree” and “Definitely.”
    3. If you want to see a little bit more information, select the “View More Details” button.
    4. What you will likely notice is that all of the major hospital systems are pretty close together as far as their patient experience scores go.
    5. The take home message in patient experience – There will be good things and bad things no matter where you go.
  3. The subsequent 5 tabs. Here is where you can go to see more specific information about topics like surgical site infections, outcomes and payment information on hip and knee replacements, readmission rates (like I got discharged from the hospital too soon and had to go back), and the like.
    1. I get a little nervous when I’m looking at something and the information says something like “sample too small.” What this says to me is that the facility isn’t doing a whole lot of this procedure and maybe it’s a good idea to find a place that is.

If you are looking for a rehabilitation hospital or skilled nursing facility, Medicare.gov also has “Nursing Home Compare” This is a great place to start looking for a longer term care facility if needed. In this comparison, you can see health inspections, fire safety information and quality of care.

It’s probably a good idea to still call that family nurse or doctor friend. We’ll wonder what’s wrong if you don’t!



“Find And Compare Information About Hospitals | Hospital Compare”. 2019. Medicare.Gov. https://www.medicare.gov/hospitalcompare/search.html?.

“Affordable Care Act Implementation FAQs – Set 1 – Centers For Medicare & Medicaid Services”. 2019. cms.gov. https://www.cms.gov/CCIIO/Resources/Fact-Sheets-and-FAQs/aca_implementation_faqs.html#Out-Of-Network%20Emergency%20Services

Rachel K. Rogers, Assistant Director Healthcare Management, Assistant Teaching Professor, University of Denver – University College

Rachel previously worked in direct patient care, nursing education and leadership, and clinical informatics. She holds a Certificate in Clinical Informatics and was adjunct faculty with the Community College of Aurora and University College. Her most recent work centered around the implementation and adoption of technology in ambulatory care.

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