When your child has been diagnosed with a rare or complex condition, it’s natural to feel worried about what the future holds — and to wonder how you can find support. Like most parents, you probably head straight to the internet in search of answers. Before you choose a hospital, it helps to know what to look for. When doing your research, consider these five components of exceptional care for complex conditions, brought to you by Boston Children’s — the #1-ranked pediatric hospital in the country for the sixth year in a row.

1. A team approach

Because complex conditions can affect many different aspects of your child’s health, it’s important to find care that addresses all their needs from a team of clinicians representing a variety of disciplines. If your child has had a stroke, for example, that team might include everyone from neurologists to social workers to physical therapists. The team should work together — and even schedule your child’s appointments together — so it’s as convenient as possible for you and your family to get the most out of every visit.

Keep in mind: When researching pediatric hospitals, you’ll likely come across the word “interdisciplinary” quite a bit. It’s a great concept: Clinicians from different specialties and disciplines working together for optimal care. While “interdisciplinary” is a fantastic marketing term, it isn’t always put into practice properly. Look for a pediatric hospital that doesn’t just use this buzzword to attract patients, but that actually follows through with joint clinician appointments and collaboration.

2. Research and innovation

When your child receives care at a world-class pediatric hospital like Boston Children’s, they gain access to new treatments, procedures, and other innovations developed right on site. What’s more, they may have the opportunity to participate in a clinical trial just for kids, which can benefit both your family and future patients as well.

Keep in mind: Scientific innovations borne from pioneering research inform and advance clinical care — and that’s especially important in rare or complex conditions. Boston Children’s has dedicated one million square feet to research space and receives more than $388 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health.

3. Quality and quantity

Consider how much experience the hospital has with your child's condition. The more procedures a clinician does or the more patients with a particular condition they see, the more experience they have. In turn, they’re likely to be more familiar with new treatments, new research findings, and new solutions that could translate to better outcomes or quality of life for your child.

Keep in mind: Because hospitals present data differently and because of the uniqueness of each child’s situation, it’s important that statistics and outcomes are fully explained. Hospital and physician characteristics also affect patient outcomes, such as length of hospital stay, complications, and mortality. Ask your pediatric hospital to share its results with you.

4. Support services and culture

Look for a pediatric hospital that offers more than just exceptional clinical care. Kids with complex conditions — and their families — can benefit from a full spectrum of support services, including social work, child life, and family-to-family programs. These resources can help support your family as you navigate the care process.

Keep in mind: Pediatric specialists shouldn’t just treat your child’s condition. They’re also in their field because they love kids — and want yours to live their best life. At Boston Children’s, we believe that you’re the best expert in your child, so we partner with you every step of the way.

5. Coordinated care

Specialty care is crucial when your child has a complex condition. But even the best interdisciplinary care team can’t — and shouldn’t — replace your child's pediatrician. The team should coordinate with your pediatrician to provide seamless, well-rounded care, keeping them updated and engaged every step of the way.

Keep in mind: If your pediatric hospital also offers on-site primary care services, it’s easier for the whole care team to work together for your child.

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