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How do I know if I am getting quality care from my doctor?

by Camellus O. Ezeugwu, MD, Ph.D., FACC, FACP, FSCAI

Recently during my “Your Health! – Ask Dr. Ezeugwu” series on the Just Heart Cardiovascular blog, a reader asked me “How do I know if I am getting quality care from my doctor?” I thought it was a fair question.

When it comes to your health, high quality care is vital. As a patient, you must know that the quality of your care is a shared responsibility between you and all your care providers including your doctors, your insurance provider, etc.  Believe it or not, you are the key to the quality of care you receive.  Neither your doctors nor your insurance provider can provide quality care to you without your cooperation.  But, with your full cooperation, you can actively participate in coordinating the quality of care you are getting and significantly improve on it. 

Although you may think or feel that you are getting high quality care, you should verify how true this is by asking your doctor for your quality management record.  This record outlines the key areas of quality measures (maintenance requirements) pertaining to you and your medical condition. This record is similar to your car maintenance record. It is not your ordinary medical record. As our late President Ronald Regan once quoted a Russian adage, “trust, but verify.”  By asking for and verifying your quality management record, you can actually confirm for yourself if you are getting quality care from your doctors.  If your doctor is using an electronic health record (EHR) system (which every doctor should be using today to ensure optimal quality care, among a long list of other reasons), ask him or her to show you your quality management record.

A quality management record will reflect if a particular “maintenance requirement” (required quality measure), pertaining to you specifically, has been completed or not. Ask for this often. If you make it a habit to get this valuable information, say, in the beginning of each year, then you can work together with your care providers to fulfill each quality measure in timely manner, and ensure high quality care for yourself.  If you have not been doing so, I encourage you to start, and remember, if any of this information is valuable to you, share it with your loved ones, friends and family, and help improve their health.

Dr. Ezeugwu is the Director at Just Heart Cardiovascular Group Inc. and an athenahealth client. 

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