All Madisonians think they know which doctor is "the best" and which clinic has "the most." But do you want to bet your health on rumors? We've peeked into reputations and exhausted our expert sources to round out these snapshots of the city's major health care providers.
UW HEALTH Community rep: Why get referred here when you can just go here in the first place? And every doc is a specialist!
Medical rep: Lots of departments backed by a behemoth system, but the referral process bottlenecks unpredictably.
Inside scoop: A decade-old merger with former Physicians Plus doctors has indeed expanded the volume of primary-care services. UW Health continues to shine with innovative wellness and partnering programs, such as a recent call for a statewide coalition on alcohol-risk education. Twenty-plus primary care and specialty clinics in Madison, with dozens of others in the suburbs.
Primary Madison hospital: UW Hospital and Clinics.
HMO: Unity Health Insurance. uwhealth.org
Community rep: Mainstream medicine and family doctors, but isn’t it hard to get a referral outside the plan?
Medical rep: Nurses do more face time than docs, which can double production, i.e., the number of patients seen in a day. No wonder it’s called the Dean Machine.
Inside scoop: Doctor-owned, for-profit and currently expanding with plans to open a new fifty-bed hospital in Janesville next year. As for referrals, Dean Health calculates it paid some $6 million for patients it referred to UW Health in the first half of last year. Thirty-two integrated-care clinics in southern Wisconsin.
Primary Madison hospital: St. Mary’s Hospital.
HMO: Dean Health Plan. deancare.com
GROUP HEALTH COOPERATIVE
Community rep: Pediatrics for east-side tots; acupuncture and medical marijuana for their hipster parents.
Medical rep: Family practice, general internists, no specialists. Still, being salaried instead of depending on grants or production promises stability.
Inside scoop: Small, patient-owned and not-for-profit, yet ranked as the top managed-care plan in Wisconsin—and one of the top ten nationwide. GHC provides mainly family practice/primary care services and refers mainly to UW Health for specialty and tertiary care. Six clinics in the Madison area; a partnership with UW Health offers care at an additional six.
Primary Madison hospital: depends on which clinic members use.
HMO: GHC-SCW. ghcscw.org
UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN HOSPITAL & CLINICS
Community rep: The Emerald City of hospitals—confusing to navigate and featuring stretchy stints in the waiting room, but somewhere, supposedly, there’s a Wizard.
Medical rep: We do ninety percent of what they do. Faster, too, and without as much bragging. But that other ten percent? That’s why we’re really glad they’re here.
Inside scoop: At least 1,100 physicians, bushels of national awards, a Level One-certified Trauma Center, the UW Carbone Comprehensive Cancer Center, a world-famous organ transplant program and the new American Family Children’s Hospital. uwhealth.org
Community rep: Heart specialists, right? And Midwestern-values medicine without new-agey holistic treatments or a phalanx of medical students flanking every bed.
Medical rep: A solid regional hospital, which by definition means it’s not a great national hospital.
Inside scoop: Mainstream, community-based care with, yes, the Meriter Heart Hospital—a new-in-2007, innovative, hospital-within-a-hospital just for heart care. Meriter also offers children’s inpatient psychiatric services and a women’s health center. meriter.com
ST. MARY’S HOSPITAL
Community rep: Babies, lots of cute babies. And the hospital has God on its side … or at least on its website.
Medical rep: A chain hospital with great community outreach and a snazzy new expansion.
Inside scoop: Madison-level health care expanding in a variety of directions. St. Mary’s is a certified stroke center, runs a specialized heart care program and delivers 3,000 babies a year through its Family Birth Center program. stmarysmadison.com
WILLIAM S. MIDDLETON VETERANS MEMORIAL HOSPITAL
Community rep: A big, government-run warehouse for chronically ill veterans that is hopefully not as bad as those we’ve seen on television.
Medical rep: Ah, the VAH-Spa. It’s a government facility, so everything runs in slo-mo. Patients stay awhile, play cards, rest up, make friends.
Inside scoop: State-of-the-art electronic medical records system rivals Epic’s best products. The hospital is affiliated with UW staff and services and offers everything from heart and lung transplants to inpatient substance-abuse rehab. madison.va.gov