Summary: How do you pick a doctor? Here’s a great handbook by Dr. Jay Parkinson, who’s a co-founder of Sherpaa. “During my preventive medicine residency at Hopkins I worked in Dr. Peter Provonost’s Institute for Patient Safety and Quality,” Jay writes on his blog. “In addition to leading all safety and quality issues at Hopkins, he’s also credited with creating the concept of the surgical checklist, a tool that’s proven to save a significant number of lives and best described in Atul Gawande’s book, The Checklist Manifesto. Peter taught me that everything is a process, and if you don’t design the process with intention and outcome in mind, the process evolves into the easiest, rather than the safest. That being said, in healthcare, I deify process mostly because the data on individual physicians isn’t plentiful enough to be statistically significant … For example, a surgeon who does 32 tonsillectomies a year isn’t enough data to be scientific. It’s meaningful because it’s common sense that you almost always want to go to the surgeon/facility who does the most of the exact thing you need. But, you need much, much more volume than that for the outcomes to be scientifically statistically significant. Physicians are also always taught that the practice of medicine changes every 5 years. New evidence comes out and gold standards change. This also throws a wrench in the concept of studying doctor quality. …It’s also relatively common knowledge that the older the physician, the further they are from state of the art training. … Older physicians, unless they take it upon themselves to learn new procedures through curiosity and continuing medical education, will likely be doing an exceptional job with out of date procedures. Younger physicians will be doing state of the art procedures with less experience.” Dr. Jay Parkinson, “What does quality mean in healthcare and how do you find it?” his blog.
Jeanne Pinder is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded... More by Jeanne Pinder