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Choosing Your Healthcare Provider

What is a Service?
A service is an intangible product. A service becomes "tangible" by the providers - those people who perform the service and the equipment used to provide that service.

How do you decide which healthcare service to use? 
Choosing a service in the healthcare industry is an important decision and we should take an active role in determining which healthcare provider to choose - we are putting our lives in their hands. Whether our decision is based on other people's opinions, the locality of the healthcare institute, or cost, it is important to make an informed decision.

There are very few resources to assist us make an informed decision, so it is important to obtain the names of several healthcare providers who have expertise in the specific field. Your ultimate decision should be based on "quality indicators" to assist you compare. For example, look for a healthcare provider who:

has experience and the credentials that meet your needs; has expertise in the specific field; takes steps to prevent illness, eg talks to you about quitting smoking; encourages you to ask questions; listens to you; explains things clearly; and treats you with respect. 

Specialised healthcare needs specialised clinical expertise, especially for a complex organ such as the heart. If you need to have a diagnostic procedure, the extent of the healthcare provider's experience should have a bearing your decision making.

Doctors are legally obligated to be certified with a medical board. They are also required to provide evidence to an Australian medical professional organisation, such as the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, of continuing educational activities aimed at ensuring clinical practice and patient care are of the highest quality.

Technicians are required to be qualified in diagnostic ultrasound and to be certified with the Australian Sonographer Accreditation Registry. In the case of the Echocardiography Technician (Cardiac), the Australasian Society for Ultrasound in Medicine, whose role it is to set standards of practice in ultrasonography, coordinate the Diploma in Medical Ultrasonography (DMU). The DMU is an internationally accepted qualification in diagnostic ultrasound.

Services Provided
Determine the facilities of the location and ascertain that if complications were to occur immediate access to other healthcare providers is available.

Your medical condition may be treated in other ways and treatment should be effective, cost effective and above all appropriate.

Patient Satisfaction
Patient satisfaction is a personal judgement however other people who have experienced the healthcare provider will be able to provide some input. Research has shown that people who have a good relationship with their healthcare providers tend to be more satisfied and have better results.

Finding a Healthcare Provider
When you have the names of healthcare providers, you can contact their office and ask specific questions such as: 

How long does it take to get an appointment?
How long might I wait before I see the doctor? What happens if I need to cancel an appointment, will I have to pay for it anyway? Does the doctor give advice over the phone? What do I do if I need urgent care or have an emergency? Which hospitals does the doctor use? What are the office hours? Information freely provided by healthcare providers' indicates their dedication to maintaining and improving the quality of their service.

After finding a Healthcare Provider
When visiting the healthcare provider, you can get a feel for the environment. During your visit, you can make a judgement about such things as:

How you are greeted.
The cleanliness of the office. The atmosphere of the office and how the staff interact with each other. Does the healthcare provider make you feel comfortable and provides informative answers your questions.

During your appointment
During your appointment, it is imperative you ask questions, and make sure you understand the answers. The only "bad" question is the one you wish you had asked. It is always good idea to find out why a test or treatment is needed and how it can help you.

Related Articles: 
Are all Echocardiographic Studies the Same?

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