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How To Choose A Primary Care Doctor

Step 4. Check The Doctor's Quality

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Even the best schools or residencies have people who are at the bottom of the class who may not be the best doctors.

One way to check quality is to ask the doctor (or his or her office) about the quality data the deoctor collects and how the data collection is performed.  For example, how many patients with high blood bressure or diabetes have their disease controlled? 

In addition, many health plans, state agencies and watchdog groups offer consumer scorecards that rate doctors. The ratings measure such things as whether the doctor follows "best practices," safety, patient satisfaction and cost. Some web sites also include doctors' performance on specific procedures.  (NOTE: Health care does not have standards for reporting doctor performance. The type and accuracy of information varies widely among sites. Consider using these ratings as a guide. If you're interested in the doctor, ask him or her why he or she is rated a certain way.)

  • If you have health insurance, start by checking your health plan's Web site.
  • Check to see if your state health department has a site. For example, New York's offsite link and Pennsylvania's offsite link
  • Web sites ask patients to rate doctors. You can see the results for free. For instance, go to Health Grades, Inc. offsite link (NOTE: It is advisable to take consumer ratnigs with a grain of salt. If you are interested in a doctor, ask him or her why she or he is rated in a certain way.)
  • offsite link has patient rating for over 700,000 doctors. You can filter search results based on type of doctor, insurance accepted and illness or condition.

To check a doctor's disciplinary record, see Has A Doctor Been Subjected To Disciplinary Action?

If you learn of additional sites about a doctor's quality, please share the information via Survivorship A to Z.

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