Comparison shopping for health care in RI

Aug 20, 2012

There are a few new tools out there for comparing and researching health care options in Rhode Island. I don’t recommend basing your decision solely on one of these web tools. I do recommend digging deeper and getting behind the rankings. But I think they might be a helpful starting place for some, especially if you’re looking for care for a loved one.

Hospitals: Read Ashish Jha’s excellent round up and analysis of several new hospital ranking tools here. Jha is a professor in Harvard’s School of Public Health. He talks about how differently hospitals come out on each ranking site and how difficult it is to parse all the data. Rankings are available from a company called Leap Frog; the media organization U.S. News and Consumer Reports (Miriam Hospital came out pretty well on this one); and Consumer Reports, which just issued its first hospital safety rankings (and is available only by subscription).

Long Term Care: Here’s a fantastic new tool from the independent news organization ProPublica, Nursing Home Inspect. It lists long-term care facilities by state and by the severity of any violations for which they’ve been cited. It’s much easier to use and understand than other sites, including government sites which might list violation details but not put them in context or rank them against other kinds of violations. For instance, failing to make a note in a patient’s chart about the last time she was given fluids is a different order or severity than choking a patient. (Note: those are examples of  some actual violations for which some nursing homes have been cited. Of course, there’s also some excellent care being given out there, too.) Search for Rhode Island homes and nit turs out that Charlesgate Nursing Center in Providence, Hebert Nursing Home in Smithfield, and Cortland Place in Greenville were cited for some of the more severe violations.

Home Health Care: If you’re looking for someone to provide help at home – from skilled nursing to help with basic tasks – and you have Medicare, you can check Medicare’s Home Health Compare site. But if you want some more nuanced information about how satisfied families and patients have been with a particular service right here in Rhode Island, check out the RI Department of Health’s most recent Home Health Patient Satisfaction report.

Found more helpful tools for researching health care options? Let me know.