Frequently Asked Questions
What should I look for in selecting a physician?
Choose a physician who:
- Has the training and background to meet your needs.
- Lets you to participate in the decision-making process regarding your healthcare, by explaining clearly various treatment options and their benefits and risks.
- Listens to you, answers your questions and overall treats you with respect.
For assistance in selecting an AtlantiCare physician, contact the AtlantiCare Access Center at 1-888-569-1000.
What should I look for in selecting a hospital?
Choose a hospital that:
- The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations has recognized with its seal of approval. The Joint Commission is the nation’s leading standards setting and accrediting body in healthcare.
- The American Nursing Association has designated as a Nursing Magnet – considered the gold standard for quality in the nursing profession.
- Government agencies and consumer groups have rated highly, as indicated in various Report Cards now available online.
- Offers Centers of Excellence or expertise in treating your particular illness or condition.
- Monitors the quality of care, safety and service and has systems in place to continually improve performance.
How do I evaluate the accuracy and validity of healthcare information and statistics, especially those found on the Internet?
Ask yourself these questions:
- Who is the source of the information? Is it a person or organization that is well recognized and respected in the field of healthcare. Is the author credited and is he/she an expert in that area? For Report Cards or other ratings, is the group publishing the information unbiased? Reliable sources include:
- Hospitals and other healthcare organizations;
- Associations, such as the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations;
- Government agencies, such as Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (www.ahrq.gov).
- How current is the information? Most reports and information are dated and indicate the time period they cover. You want to use the most up-to-date sources.
- If you are gathering information on the Internet, does the site you are using appear well maintained? Look for indications that the information has been updated recently. Also, links to other web sites should be working – not broken.
How do I compare hospitals that are located in my area?
A number of sources are available, including:
- Hospital Compare (www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov): Sponsored by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, this report shows recommended care for adults being treated for heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia and for those undergoing surgery. The site also shows how often hospitals provide that recommended care to get the best results for most patients.
- Quality Check® (http://www.qualitycheck.org): The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, the nation's leading standards-setting and accrediting body in healthcare, sponsors Quality Check. It shows hospitals that are accredited – a “seal of approval” is given to an organization when its performance meets or exceeds the Joint Commission's standards and quality expectations. The site also compares accredited hospitals based on safety and quality performance – helping you determine if a healthcare organization will meet your needs.
How do I know if a physician or hospital has experience in treating my condition and has had successful patient outcomes?
- Check the Report Cards provided by government agencies and consumer groups.
- Visit healthcare providers’ web sites and look for data provided on quality performance.
- Refer to the “Doctor Finder” section of the American Medical Association web site (http://www.ama-assn.org/aps/amahg.htm). It contains information on training, specialties and board certification for many licensed physicians in the U.S.
- Contact the hospital’s physician referral service and speak with a hospital representative (often a nurse) who can answer your questions.
How do I know if I’m being offered the best treatment option(s) for my condition?
- Talk to your doctor about the various treatment options that are available to you – and their associated risks and benefits.
- Ask your doctor if there are evidenced-based guidelines for treating your particular condition and if the recommended treatment is in keeping with those guidelines.
- Learn as much as you can about your condition – and the various treatment options – through qualified sources, including books, Internet sites and support groups sponsored by national organizations such as the American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association and others.
What are the best online sources for information related to healthcare quality?
AtlantiCare has provided a number of links from our site that you may find helpful.