Checkups Featured

9:51am EDT July 22, 2002

One of the biggest problems with managed care is the constant changing of physicians because of plan changes.

Once your company switches plans to save money, you and your employees are often faced with the task of picking a new doctor from a thick book of area physicians. What was once considered the sacred doctor-patient relationship has been reduced to randomly picking names from a managed care phone book.

But before you pick a doctor to turn your family’s health over to, you might want to do a little research. Everyone would like to know more about their doctor, but until now, about the only way to do it was to ask friends and associates who they liked.

PatientWatch, a service created to fill this information void in choosing a physician, can provide a detailed report on a doctor, hospital or even a particular medication.

“It’s the only place where people can get a full background on a physician,” says PatientWatch founder and CEO Steve Finando. “The report will show any discipline and malpractice claims.”

An attorney reviews all malpractice claims and translates them into plain English to make sure the potential patient has a full understanding of what actually happened. The report also contains information about the physician’s education, his or her board certification, residency and state licenses.

The information comes from about 150 databases, some of which PatientWatch created. There is also research on disease conditions, procedures and medications. All information is updated weekly.

“It’s common for someone going in for surgery to order a report on the physician, the hospital and the procedure,” says Finando. “People want the information so they can be informed and ask the right kinds of questions and ask about alternatives. They want to have confidence in the physician that will be working on them. It makes the patients more comfortable and makes them a more empowered consumer.”

When a request is filed, a report generally takes about two to five days, because researchers compile them — they’re not just pulled off the database. PatientWatch is a national service, and covers every physician and hospital in the United States.

“We envision ourselves as looking to become part of the whole concept of the patient advocate,” says Finando. “The information services were started as a means of providing information to advocates. I see this as a larger movement of patients becoming more responsible for their own health care. This begins with information. It is the key to survival and getting good care. Managed care can’t just put you in the hands of a physician and expect you to be passive.

“Physicians are looking for more informed patients, but they just can’t take the time to inform them.”

Report fees start at $35 and can be obtained either through the Web site www.patientwatch.com or by calling (800) 877-449-2824.

Todd Shryock (tshryock@sbnnet.com) is SBN’s special reports editor.