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Choosing a Specialist Physician

Updated on March 18, 2013
The release of medicare data will enable more detailed ratings for U.S. doctors and hospitals.
The release of medicare data will enable more detailed ratings for U.S. doctors and hospitals. | Source

Established Ways to Find a Specialist

If you are diagnosed with cancer or if you need open heart surgery, orthopedic surgery or other special medical treatment, how can you find a specialist physician whom you trust to provide quality care? In a June 2009 online posting, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) gave some tips to help consumers locate a specialist physician for their medical problem. One suggestion was that you consult with your primary care physican, coworkers, friends or family. In addition, the NCI listed free online databases that compile information on physicians practicing in the United States. For example, the American Board of Medical Specialists publishes the "Is Your Doctor Board Certified" database. Users need only register with their e-mail address and a password in order to access a list of doctors who have met certain education and training requirements and have passed specialty examinations. Another database listed is called "Doctor Finder," and this one is maintained by the American Medical Association. Users are granted free access to professional information on over 800,000 licensed doctors in the United States.

Medical Report Cards Based on Medicare Data

While the established ways of finding a specialist physician are certainly helpful, they offer only a limited picture of a doctor's skill and the level of care he or she can provide. An article in the December 6, 2011 issue of "The Philadelphia Inquirer" newspapaer describes a new and more detailed way for consumers to judge the quality of hospitals and specialist physicians. The U.S. Federal Government has agreed to let employers, insurance companies and consumer groups examine its Medicare claims database. Medical report cards based on this database of 47 million patients will be compiled by health care experts and released to the public beginning in the latter part of 2012. This process will not compromise patient privacy, but the identity of the doctor performing the procedure will be revealed. These hospital and specialist physician report cards will contain information heretofore unavailable to the general public. For example, consumers will learn the number of times a doctor has performed a particular procedure, and get some idea of the prevalence of preventable complications.

Choosing Your Doctor


This hub has been written for the sole purpose of providing information to the reader. It is not intended to be a source of any kind of medical advice or instruction, and it should not be used in the diagnosis of any illness, disease or condition. You should consult your doctor if you have questions about a specific medical problem.


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    • healthwriterbob profile image

      healthwriterbob 4 years ago from United States

      Hi Healthexplorer,

      Thanks for your comments. Yes, we certainly need our doctors to deliver good medical services, and I think that the Medicare online database is one way to help a person decide which doctor is best for him or her. The personal relationship that you have with your doctor is also an important factor in the quality of the care you get.