In 2006, 8 million people scoured the Web for details on not only disease and diets, but also their providers, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. The ability to find information about doctors and hospitals has been growing as more and more Web sites pop up allowing patients to compare their providers and their rates.
The Philadelphia Inquirer (3/19/2007) found that for-profit, nonprofit, and government organizations are getting into the game. Insurers, such as Aetna and Independence Blue Cross, provide Web tools that allow subscribers to rate the quality of providers, for example. So does the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' "hospital compare" site (located at http://www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov/). This site allows users to compare how often hospitals use best practices to treat four conditions-heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, and surgical care improvement/surgical infection prevention.
Another site highlighted by The Philadelphia Inquirer allows users to compare physicians and hospitals. The site, "Revolution Health" (located at http://www.revolutionhealth.com/), lets users compare, for example, physicians' rates of complications, death rates for specific procedures at hospitals, and to read patient comments about their care.