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There’s No Place Like Home: Four Steps to Choosing Your Hospital

When you have a serious health condition that requires treatment at a hospital, you want to know you are getting the best possible care. If you are scheduling a non-emergency procedure, or want to plan ahead—just in case—it pays to take time to find the best hospital for you. And many times, there’s no place like home—the hospital closest to you is the best choice.

So, how do you choose the best hospital? It depends, in large part, on your condition. Most community hospitals do extremely well handling common health problems, such as cancer, heart disease, and joint problems. In fact, you generally receive better, faster care at your local hospital. For most people, having family, friends, and their primary care physician nearby is a top priority when they need medical attention.

Step 1: Learn About the Care You Need and Your Hospital Choices.
Ask your doctor which hospitals he or she works with and which are best for your condition. If you need a specific procedure, does your local hospital perform this procedure frequently? What is their success rate? Will your primary care physician be responsible for your overall care while you’re in the hospital? Do you need a specialty hospital, teaching hospital, or one that does clinical trials related to your condition?

Step 2: Think About Your Personal and Financial Needs.
Find out which hospitals your insurance plan (or Medicare) covers and whether you need to obtain permission from your insurance company before you check in. Is the hospital convenient to family and friends? Does it provide your loved ones with updates about your condition during your stay? Can someone remain in your room overnight if you wish? Will the hospital respect and accommodate any religious or cultural needs you may have?

Step 3: Compare Local Hospitals Based on Your Conditions.
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has an online Hospital Compare Tool that can be used to check patient ratings and quality results for nearby hospitals. U.S. News & World Report also rates hospitals annually and is another good source for information about patient ratings and success and error rates.

Step 4: Discuss Your Hospital Options.
Have a conversation with your family and primary care physician and then choose the hospital that best meets your needs.

When you are having an emergency, your should always go to the nearest hospital. If you need specialized emergency care, your local hospital will stabilize you before transporting you to another medical facility.

Research the hospitals in your community now before you need care. To determine which services you may need and to find a provider at UPMC Susquehanna, visit

UPMC Susquehanna is proud to be counted among the best by IBM Watson Health™ as one of its 15 Top Health Systems for 2018, based on overall organizational performance. Patients of health systems in this elite group have higher survival rates, fewer complications, shorter stays, less time waiting in the emergency department, and an overall better patient experience. To read more about this distinction, visit