Specialist Physicians: Relevancy and Recommendation

We at ApexMD are dedicated to improving the cumbersome and disorganized process by which patients with rare or serious conditions find or are referred to specialist physicians at top academic medical centers for diagnosis, treatment or second opinion. 

This process can be a time-consuming obstacle to newly diagnosed patients.  Gilles Frydman, noted advocate of participatory medicine and founder of ACOR, described this challenge for patients, “ACOR members constantly ask about experts. We have happily taken 10s of thousands of cancer patients away from the hands of mediocre doctors who should have recused themselves, because of their understandable lack of knowledge about the medical condition they diagnosed, often with long delays.  And then we have helped these same patients find the real healing hands, the doctors who treat many patients with the same condition and have optimized their practice to provide high-quality across the continuum of care.”  This from a comment to RateMDs.com: Medical Justice’s approach is “repulsive” by e-Patient Dave on March 4, 2009 .

Empowered patients are taking this search into their own hands, but referring physicians, and other medical personnel, such as medical librarians and patient advocates, also struggle with this specialist search process every day on behalf of patients.

But as any cancer patient can tell you, the most specialized doctor is not neccesarily the “best doctor” for every patient. The doctor-patient relationship depends on a lot of things-communication style, expectations, both on the part of the patient and the physician, the involvement and training of support staff, the existence of a clinic or center dedicated to the specific condition, and so on.  The best fit for one patient may not be the best fit for another.  Those differences are the topic of the newest feature added to the ApexMD physician profile.  Now patients, medical personnel and other advocates are able to recommend specialists for specific conditions and procedures.  To learn more about the specialist recommendation feature, check out How do I make recommendations for specific doctors?

We believe that both relevancy and recommendation are important factors for patients and advocates to consider.  Just as the super-specialist may not have the personal skills to develop a therapeutic relationship with a patient, neither might a generalist have the knowledge and experience to develop the most effective treatment plan for a patient.

ApexMD  has profiled specialists at the top 10 medical centers as described by US News & World Report America’s Best Hospitals and at hospitals within each of 11 US regions.  Medical centers are being added at a rate of about one every 2 weeks.

Profiles of specialists at top medical centers are gleaned from public physician biographies and refined through physician editing.  For a detailed discussion of the profiling and the search algorithm, check out How Does it Work.

Current physician directories and ratings websites do not have information specific enough to be of any practical use to patients who have been diagnosed with rare diseases or serious medical conditions, such as cancer or disabling illness. Current doctor directories have little or no search capability. Current physician rating sites have comments but no context. 

ApexMD gives patients, advocates, referring physicians and other medical personnel a place to start when time is precious.

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