Who better to ask? Doctors pick the top hospitals where they would go for treatment

Seeking the best place for care for conditions like multiple sclerosis or cardiac surgery?

Given the choice for themselves or their family members, doctors ranked Rochester, Minnesota-based Mayo Clinic the top place to go, according to the results of a new survey from Medscape released Thursday.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Mayo was among some of most reputable hospitals in the country which were also rated most highly in the Medscape survey of more than 11,000 physicians asking about where they'd send a loved one for care or treatment of 10 serious medical conditions or procedures. 

Mayo ranked first for the treatment of six of those conditions, while Houston-based MD Anderson Cancer Care was first in treating all those types of cancer.

Other number one ranked hospitals included The Cleveland Clinic (cardiac conditions and interventional cardiac surgery), Hospital for Special Surgery (hip replacement) and Boston Children’s Hospital (pediatric conditions).

Medscape, which conducted the survey, provided a complete list of physicians’ picks for top hospitals for serious conditions and for cancer treatment.

“What we tapped into was physician expertise,” said Leslie Kane, senior director of Medscape's Business of Medicine site, in an interview with FierceHealthcare.

Doctors go to conferences and read medical journals and have insider insight when it comes to which hospitals are getting good results, have the latest technology available and are doing groundbreaking research.

“They really know what’s going on, so it really means something. These are the experts,” she says, adding that she hopes people can use the information as one more tool to make decisions about where to seek care. “There can be a difference in outcomes.”

Doctors said the most important factor in choosing a hospital was an institution’s professional reputation and the expertise of its physicians (62%), followed by a specific physician at the hospital (12%), availability of leading technology (10%), and low error rates (6%). 

Overall, doctors named 33 hospitals in the survey. Doctors, who were invited to take the survey, rated the best hospitals for cardiac conditions, interventional cardiac surgery, stroke, hip replacement, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, advanced hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, infectious diseases and pediatric conditions. They also rated the best institutions for treatment of breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukemia and renal cell carcinoma.

For each condition, the survey listed top hospitals chosen by all of the physicians responding to the survey, as well as a separate list chosen by the specialists in that clinical area.

While the government website Hospital Compare allows patients to gather information about the quality of U.S. hospitals, the Medscape survey provides a perspective that other tools don’t capture: physician expertise, says Kane.