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At DocSpot, our mission is to connect people with the right health care by helping them navigate publicly available information. We believe the first step of that mission is to help connect people with an appropriate medical provider, and we look forward to helping people navigate other aspects of their care as the opportunities arise. We are just at the start of that mission, so we hope you will come back often to see how things are developing.

An underlying philosophy of our work is that right care means different things to different people. We also recognize that doctors are multidimensional people. So, instead of trying to determine which doctors are "better" than others, we offer a variety of filter options that individuals can apply to more quickly discover providers that fit their needs.

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What accounts for differences in doctors' prescriptions?

by jerry on October 07, 2011

Here's an interesting article about a patient who got three different recommended treatments from three different doctors. Two of the three doctors recommended destroying the thyroid gland, condemning the patient to a lifelong regimen of iodine pills. The third doctor's successful recommendation treated the patient's condition without the lifelong consequences.

Here's an interesting article about a patient who got three different recommended treatments from three different doctors. Two of the three doctors recommended destroying the thyroid gland, condemning the patient to a lifelong regimen of iodine pills. The third doctor's successful recommendation treated the patient's condition without the lifelong consequences.

What accounts for the differences in the doctors' prescribed treatments? Perhaps more importantly, what pieces of data could be used to predict these differences? After all, I would clearly prefer the third doctor myself. But how could I find such a doctor without having the visit all three? Does anyone know? Even if we were to simplify the problem to be able to see which doctors are more likely to prescribe medication versus lifestyle changes (which would be very useful to prospective patients), what data could consumers look at to simplify their search? If you have any ideas, let us know.

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The importance of other attributes

by jerry on October 02, 2011

Here's an interesting article about people leaving fake reviews, or rather, the entire industry dedicated to online review manipulation. Obviously, online reviews are not specific to health care, and neither are the issues that plague it.

Here's an interesting article about people leaving fake reviews, or rather, the entire industry dedicated to online review manipulation. Obviously, online reviews are not specific to health care, and neither are the issues that plague it.

To be clear, online reviews by other patients almost always comes up as an important issue. We don't deny that others' perspectives are important; it's just that in this age where glowing reviews can be bought for $5, it's probably a good idea to look at the volume of reviews (a couple reviews probably doesn't mean too much) and other pieces of information about a provider (e.g. where the provider trained). We try to address both by connecting users to information from multiple sources. Have other ideas on how to help patients select a provider? Let us know.

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Another take on the privacy versus transparency debate

by jerry on September 22, 2011

Earlier, I posted a note on the issues of privacy versus transparency. Obviously, others are wrestling through the same issues as well; for example, this New York Times article highlights the federal government's decision to make physician discipline and malpractice actions information less available. This is obviously a step in the wrong direction for those of us who want patients to make informed decisions.

Earlier, I posted a note on the issues of privacy versus transparency. Obviously, others are wrestling through the same issues as well; for example, this New York Times article highlights the federal government's decision to make physician discipline and malpractice actions information less available. This is obviously a step in the wrong direction for those of us who want patients to make informed decisions.

A history of disciplinary and malpractice actions is medically relevant. To say that doctors' privacy trumps patient empowerment would be akin to saying that companies should have a right to redact their profiles from sites like Better Business Bureau. Even if people were to successfully argue that a corporation is meaningfully different as a service provider than an individual, the government should still at least make disciplinary and malpractice actions available at the company (or practice) level.

What puzzles me is that an administration that campaigned on the promise of transparency threatened a reporter with civil fines for trying to uncover a story. Instead of working to make information more readily available, the government is "reviewing the public use file and may change it to further assure confidentiality." Really? What happened to patients' interests?

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See us at Health 2.0 San Francisco 2011

by jerry on September 16, 2011

This is a quick note for those who are planning on attending this year's Health 2.0 conference in San Francisco: I'll be presenting a short demonstration of our Clinician Finder product in the Provider Search for Consumers panel on Monday (the full agenda is here).

If you'd like to meet up, let me know via the Contact form.

This is a quick note for those who are planning on attending this year's Health 2.0 conference in San Francisco: I'll be presenting a short demonstration of our Clinician Finder product in the Provider Search for Consumers panel on Monday (the full agenda is here).

If you'd like to meet up, let me know via the Contact form.

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Find hospitals on DocSpot

by jared on September 09, 2011

I think hospitals are the antithesis of roller coasters. People with heart conditions and pregnant women should be admitted, and you want the ride to be over as soon as possible.

But how can you find the hospital that will give you the least bumpy ride?

I think hospitals are the antithesis of roller coasters. People with heart conditions and pregnant women should be admitted, and you want the ride to be over as soon as possible.

But how can you find the hospital that will give you the least bumpy ride?

We realize that you may not have much control over where you go because of insurance constraints or because the imminency of your condition forces you to go to the closest hospital, irrespective of its quality. However, if you are ever able to plan your hospital visit in advance, you can now use DocSpot to help you make your decision.

To get started, click on the "find a hospital" tab in the upper right corner of the homepage. You can sort your options by hospital size, type, or whether or not a hospital is affiliated with a medical school. You can also search for accredited hospitals on DocSpot. Accreditation is important because it means that the hospital has passed basic quality inspections.

Since patients enjoy reading anecdotal reviews, like for our doctor search, we have pulled together star ratings from multiple websites. We have also included Medicare's survey data of patient experience; some of you may find these results more helpful than online reviews. For one, they are broken down into specific aspects of hospital care, such as pain control, quietness, and cleanliness. Secondly, the survey ratings generally average feedback from hundreds of patients, many more than you would find on most review websites.

As always, take patient ratings with a grain of salt. Often reviews don't accurately reflect the actual performance of a hospital as far as outcomes, like readmissions and mortality. Readmission rates are important because they let you know how many people had to return to the hospital because of complications or worsening symptoms. Often re-hospitalizations are preventable, especially for Medicare patients, who may readmitted due to poor discharge planning.

There are many dimensions to hospital quality, and the literature on how to properly evaluate hospitals is contantly changing. In the coming months, we hope to add more data sources to help you make the better decisions about hospitals, including hospital infection rates, out-of-pocket costs for common procedures, and a richer array of accepted insurance plans. Please leave us feedback, and let us know how we can make finding a hospital even easier for you!

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