Today pharmacy rankings produced by J.D. Power were posted on the Wall Street Journal Health Blog. It seems that even pharmacies are not immune to such rankings. The J.D. Powers’ ranking system is different that those created by individuals close to a particular industry and offers a glimpse into the minds of health care consumers. Issues like convenience, communication, economy and responsiveness to the consumer’s needs are paramount.
But remarkably I don’t use any of the pharmacies listed. I use my local pharmacist who lets me have a credit account, will deliver the drugs to my door (and those of many seniors in our area), and knows me (and my family members) by name. My needs must be different than those of the J.D. Powers survey respondents.
Not to be dissuaded, I decided to perused other rankings by J.D. Powers, particularly their Distinguished Hospitals ranking. It was interesting to note the dramatic difference in J.D. Powers “Distinguished Hospitals” for service excellence compared it the US News and World Report’s list of Best Hospitals. How remarkably different they are! Not a single university hospital exists on the J.D. Power list, but many university hospitals are on the US News and World Report’s list.
So which is better? Where should you receive your care?
It depends, doesn’t it? When we or a loved one is sick and hospitalized, we want the “best” care possible. But the best might be very different from one patient to another. For the young patient suddenly afflicted with a serious cancer, “best” might be the hospital center with the widest experience treating that form of tumor. For the aging senior who has been in and out of hospitals repetitively, “best” might be the center that makes accessibility and attentiveness to their daily needs most important (its amazing what free valet parking to do for a local center’s rankings).
But despite all of these rankings used as powerful marketing aides, the one thing that never waivers is this: the quality of the health care providers - the doctors, nurses, and technical staff (yes, even pharmacists) - is what really matters. Doctors that are not afraid to refer to others with more expertise, encourage second opinions, and look you in the eye as they speak are critical to me. Sure, the physical plant and information technology help, but if you can’t see your doctor quickly, talk to a real human being, and get the answers to your questions and support for your concerns in a timely and professional manner, you’ll take your health care business elsewhere - rankings be damned.
And you know what?
That’s the way it should be.