A USA Today analysis of new Medicare data shows that even hospitals that get high marks for patient care can fall short on the re-admission/mortality scale.

What does this mean for you, for me, for patients across the US?

It means that we need to look at all the data available to us before making a decision about treatment. Which in turn means weighing the risks and rewards of choosing one hospital over another. For example: are you being treated by a doctor who has privileges at more than one hospital? If so, take a look at all the options there. Make an informed decision.

I highly recommend taking a look at the study, and using the comparison tools as well as the survey results to determine which hospitals in your area are on your “no-fly” or “must-have” lists.

Being an e-patient requires that we both demand access to information and data about our medical care, and to actually use that data to make decisions that can help us move toward the best possible outcome.

Know your risks. Know your history. Ask questions. Work to understand the answers to those questions. Demand access to your data, and to the data that can help you make informed decisions. Do this for yourself, and for family members who can’t do it for themselves.

Healthcare reform, whatever your politics, must include active participation on the patient’s part. Which means: be an e-patient, or be a meat-puppet.

Your choice …

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Data = Informed decision-making. Act accordingly.