If you were to ask your parents or siblings about hospital preferences, the general response would probably be, “My goodness, why would I want to talk about such a thing? I am not dying!” Yet you would be remiss to overlook discussing such an important topic because, whether you are 30 or 80, it is important to make sure you receive the proper care in case of an emergency, not only for your benefit but also for the benefit of your loved ones.

The timing for discussing your hospital preferences couldn’t be better with everyone gathering for the holidays. In fact, the holidays are an important time for family, fellowship, and meaningful discussions. Therefore, it is incredibly important that you and your family are empowered, when possible, to make an informed decision about selecting a hospital rather than having an emergency dictate the decision for you.


Empowerment is a key component of the Caregiver Wellness: U model, a conceptual model that incorporates the movement toward social, psychological, physical, intellectual, spiritual, occupational, and financial wellness among caregivers, while also incorporating the empowerment and resilience necessary to take charge of one’s health on a holistic basis.

What does it mean to be Empowered?

According to the Caregiver Wellness: U model, you are empowered when you fully engage in and execute healthy behaviors to improve your caregiving situation. In fact, once you are empowered, you are better able to assist your loved one in living life with greater fulfillment, and you are more likely to take self-responsibility for your health and wellness, in addition to the well-being of your loved ones.
An Interview with Dr. Karlene Kerfoot
In an interview, Dr. Karlene Kerfoot, Chief Clinical Integration Officer at API Healthcare, a GE Healthcare company, shared, “It is incredibly important to know as much about your area hospitals and their specialties. In fact, selecting a hospital should never be done in an emergency.” She continued, “It is easier to discuss and know where you want to go when you experience an emergency now, rather than simply waiting for the emergency situation to dictate where you access health care.”
When asked how one might bring up selecting a hospital with family members, Dr. Kerfoot suggested that “you weave it into a general discussion and take time to look at the data which is available in a variety of forms.” For example, you might consider discussing the local reputation of a particular hospital or explore the hospital’s quality indicators; another suggestion is to determine whether your insurance will be accepted.
Given her unique background and personal expertise as a Corporate Chief Nursing and Patient Care Officer at three of the largest health care systems in the country, Aurora Health Care System headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Clarian Health Partners headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, and the Memorial Hermann Healthcare System headquartered in Houston, Dr. Kerfoot offered the following unique insights regarding the top five things every caregiver should know when selecting a hospital.
The 5 Things That Every Caregiver Should Know When Selecting a Hospital
The following are 5 things that you might consider when choosing a hospital.
Consider quality outcomes and indicators. Quality outcomes and indicators include rates of falls and hospital readmissions, which are generally publicly reported. In particular, you might take a special interest in whether your hospital of choice is above or below the local and national rates for infection. Two excellent resources for researching hospital quality indicators are Health Insights, for public hospitals, and Hospital Compare VA, to compare quality indicators if you are accessing health care as a veteran or active-duty member of the military.
What are others saying about your hospital of choice? These days, most hospitals collect data on patient satisfaction. Dr. Kerfoot suggests that you pay special attention to any negative responses because they can be indicators of poor satisfaction, staffing, and outcomes. One resource that you might find helpful when considering what others have to say about your health care organization of choice is Hospital Compare. Another important consideration Dr. Kerfoot mentioned is getting feedback regarding the outcomes and services offered at your hospital of choice from nurses or other health care professionals, as they are usually a great source of information.
Does your hospital of choice have magnet status or is it certified in an area such as joint replacement or stroke support?  Hospitals with magnet status or in the process of achieving magnet status generally adhere to the best standards of care and excel at recruiting and retaining highly skilled nurses and doctors. If you would like to know more about magnet status, you might consider accessing Nurse Credentialing. Certified hospitals are equally important. For example, hospitals that are certified generally have successfully treated a fairly large number of patients and have collected a great deal of positive outcomes with treating a specific illness or disease process.
How is technology integrated? A hospital or health care system with integrated technology in the form of electronic medical records, e-doctor visits, and electronic reminders can improve your health care experience and communication with your doctor. Consider if you will have access to these types of technologies when selecting a hospital. You might consider downloading Centers of Medicare and Medicaid: Guide for Choosing a Hospital as a resource.
What are others saying about your doctor of choice? Just as with selecting a hospital, it is important to choose your physician carefully. You might consider visiting Health Grades to explore where your physician of choice ranks and to determine if your physician has privileges at your hospital of choice. Privileges can be very important, as you or your loved one may have to be transferred to another hospital because your doctor of choice does not have privileges at a local hospital.

It is important that you acknowledge that health care is about choice. Selecting a hospital should be a planned, strategic decision, because the truth is that not all hospitals are created equal! You don’t want to make such an important decision on the fly. Therefore, it is important to check a hospital’s statistics and quality measures, even if the health care organization is located across town, and to continue looking on an ongoing basis, as outcomes change over time. Make your preferences known to your family members so that they know where you would like to go should an emergency occur.