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    Ranking America's Hospitals

    Johns Hopkins, Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic Top List


    "Practice makes perfect," says Clough. "In surgery, people who do it more often tend to do better."

    He says the list raises the profile of the hospitals included and brings a steady stream of out-of-town as well as international patients. But that doesn't necessarily make the hospitals more exclusive or harder to get into.

    Clough says The Cleveland Clinic, like many other institutions included on the list, is constantly expanding to meet the growing demand for its services. In fact, it's building a new cardiac care facility to accommodate the rising number of heart patients that come in for treatment, thanks to the institution's No. 1 ranking in the heart and heart surgery specialty area.

    If you've got a computer, getting access to one of these hospitals can be just a phone call away. Most major hospitals provide phone numbers on their web sites for making appointments with their physicians.

    Insurance coverage for this type of care varies, of course, according to your provider's reimbursement limits and out-of-network coverage policies. But even if you don't have insurance coverage, many of the hospitals on the list provide millions of dollars a year in uncompensated care.

    But even if you decide to stick closer to home for your medical care, there are steps you can take to insure you're getting the best possible care.

    Clough says there is a lot more information available to patients, especially via the Internet. He recommends visiting a trusted site to research your condition and check to see if you're getting what's needed from your healthcare provider.

    And don't be afraid to ask questions or talk with your doctor about your healthcare, says Clough. "An educated patient is the best asset there is."

    Both Clough and Gordon point to the Internet as a valuable source of information on both medical conditions and the people who treat them.

    "Patients need to be the best possible consumers and go on WebMD to know what questions to ask your healthcare provider," says Gordon. "Physicians are connected to each other. Call around and make sure you're seeing someone who's experienced in taking care of your problem."

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