Tips on Locating the Right Specialist for Your Condition

All doctors may not be equally well versed in knowledge of every condition. The best medical care you can expect for a particular medical condition is typically a doctor who specializes in that condition. Specialists may include orthopedists, podiatrists, allergists, psychologists, oncologists and cardiologists. While many different specialties exist, specialists who focus on a particular condition can sometimes be difficult to locate, especially if they are highly recommended or located in low populous areas. Finding a recommended specialist in or near your area for your condition may seem prohibitively difficult. However, there are several ways to find the right specialist for your condition, including seeking out support groups, finding clinical trials on the condition and reviewing medical literature on the subject. Note that, depending on your insurance plan, you may need a referral to a specialist from your primary health care provider before you can visit one in your area.

Personal Referrals

Your primary health care provider is one of the first sources to ask for a recommendation to a top-notch specialist who can help you with your condition. You can also ask your family, friends and coworkers if they know about any good specialists for your condition in your area. Many people in your life may know other people who you are facing medical conditions similar to yours. Find out who their specialists are and whether they are happy with the care they are receiving from them before proceeding.

Your Insurance Company

Most insurance companies maintain a database of specialists who focus on various medical conditions and who offer in-network services, meaning they covered by the same insurance plan. Similarly, Colorado’s Children’s Health Insurance Program and Medicaid program may have lists of specialists to review.

Seek a Support Group for Your Condition

Many support groups and patient advocacy groups for various medical conditions have their own medical advisors on board who can help point people with particular conditions in the right directions for proper care. Many of these support groups also maintain doctor locator services and/or extensive patient network lists that may include lists of member-recommended medical care providers in your area who specialize in your particular condition. The Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD), the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) and the Genetic Alliance also maintain lists of providers and/or advocacy groups for various medical conditions.

Clinical Trials

Oftentimes, clinical trials are exhibited for particular medical conditions. You do not need to participate in a clinical trial to glean valuable information from those conducting it. Many times, the researchers conducting these trials are specialists in the condition themselves, so you can contact them for potential appointments and treatments. Other clinical trial researchers are familiar with several top-notch specialists in the field and they may be able to refer you. Additional resources for finding researchers on a particular condition include the Rare Diseases Clinical Research Network (RDCRN), the Centers for Mendelian Genomics, the Patient Recruitment and Public Liaison office and the Genetic Testing Registry.

Medical Literature Article Writers

Much of medical literature is written by physicians and researchers who are specialists in the field about which they are writing. Often, in addition to the name of the physician who wrote the article and the institution where he or she works, the physician’s phone number and/or email address is also listed. If you can locate an article in medical literature on the subject of your condition, you may also be able to contact its writer and ask for guidance in finding a good specialist near you. Some of the periodicals and publications that include these relevant articles are Medscape Reference, NORD and GeneReviews. You can also search online databases that include medical journal articles on biomedicine to locate numerous specialists through the articles they have written. Many of the articles include the authors’ names and, in some instances, their contact information.

Treatment Centers and Genetics Clinics

At a treatment center for your condition, you will often find several specialists working together, allowing you the opportunity to locate a specialist who is right for you. The Muscular Dystrophy Association and the National Cancer Center are two examples of centers that provide either information or direct healthcare services for specific conditions. Additionally, disease advocacy organizations often have Centers of Excellence you can visit for specialized support. Genetic clinics also provide information about various genetic conditions and support for people facing those conditions. These organizations include the National Society of Genetics Counselors, the American College of Medical Genetics and the American Society of Human Genetics. All three of these organizations possess their own lists or databases of qualified geneticists, including both researchers and direct health care providers who you can contact for treatment.

Additional Options

GARD recommends contacting university health centers because they often engage in diagnosis, treatment and clinical trials for various medical conditions. The National Library of Medicine’s online service may also be a helpful resource.