As an IVF patient, or a potential IVF patient, you should evaluate different IVF Centres as part of the decision making process. IVF is expensive and you should be able to receive care at the clinic that can offer you the best care, and not just the clinic that your family physician referred you to. You can choose your IVF centre by a process called “self referral”. Once you have chosen your IVF clinic, just ask your family physician to send your chosen clinic a referral form. It happens every day.
How do you choose the best clinic? How can you compare different clinics? Using statistics can be part of your evaluation process, and most clinics will report some information on their websites. Unfortunately, the data reported tends to be general, but here are 6 tips for using statistics to help evaluate an IVF centre:
- The information used should be the most relevant to your situation. If you are you a 36 year old female using her own eggs, you want the data for all of the clinic’s 36 year old patients who used their own eggs over the past 12 or 24 months. If you are over 42 and want to evaluate your chances of success with your own eggs, make sure the data does not include any donor egg cycles.
- IVF statistics in Canada are not yet standardized. If you are comparing two or more clinics, make sure that you are using the same exact statistic. For a summary of how some of the data is reported, read my blog on Understanding IVF Statistics.
- Statistics vary quite dramatically based on the age of the woman providing the eggs. If you are a 42 year old woman using her own eggs, you want to see the clinic’s statistics for your age range. Many clinics try to make the “over 40” data look better by reporting data for a large group of patients, including younger patients. It is not unusual to see the statistics for ages 39-42 reported together, but it isn’t very meaningful for a 42 year old trying to understand her actual chances for success.
- Rates of success are helpful, but only if there is a large enough set of data. Find out how many patients are included in each set of data being reported, and over what time period the data was collected . Did the IVF centre treat 10 patients who were similar to you, or 100? Were those patients seen over a twelve month period, or a longer period? Generally, it makes sense to be at an ivf centre that regularly treats people in your situation.
- Is the clinic reporting its most recent statistics, or are they using data from a particularly good year? This is no different from someone using a 10 year old photograph as their profile photo. The data is real, but it just isn’t relevant any more. In order to evaluate your personal chances of success right now, you need the most current statistics available.
- Is this a clinic that regularly performs IVF? Once you know how many annual cycles the clinic performs, calculate the number of weekly cycles to ensure that the clinic performs IVF on a regular and ongoing basis. You should be in the care of an expert.
Numbers can be positioned or glamourized. If a centre has great numbers, it will be more than happy to share them wtih you. Don’t fall for general language that states that an IVF Centre’s statistics are better than the national average, or that the clinic is “among the best in the country”. Ask hard questions and get hard numbers.