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Cure for finding a doctor

More than 30 years ago, when we had first moved to a new city, the need arose for a family doctor. I let my fingers do the walking through the Yellow Pages and landed on what I thought was an appropriate choice. “John Kelly,” I said. “That sounds like a good Irish name. Let’s try that one.”

Fortunately for us, we made a good choice. However, the “point and guess” method is no longer needed, thanks to a new nonprofit, RemarkableDocs.org. Established in January 2004 by two remarkable local ladies, Karen Wallace and Sonja Bachus, this Web site can help lead you to just the right doctor.

Bachus developed the concept of a patient-to-patient recommendation system after her daughter needed extensive orthopedic surgery. The Bachus family searched for a year to find the right doctor to treat their child. It was a frustrating process. They finally found the doctor who eventually became their daughter’s surgeon through a medical paper published on the Internet.



Several years later, over a cup of tea, Bachus and Wallace decided that something needed to be done. It shouldn’t be so difficult to find a good doctor. So, after extensive research and development, RemarkableDocs was launched.

“Research shows that many people choose their doctors based on recommendations from other patients, and many people have positive doctor recommendations they are willing to share,” said Bachus. “Based on this research and our own experience, we created RemarkableDocs so anyone searching for a doctor could have access to this powerful resource.”




With co-founder Michael Abreu, these ladies have surrounded themselves with an illustrious board of directors and executive staff. RemarkableDocs.org includes bios on each one. Prepare to be impressed.

The founders first began with extensive research to determine whether their idea of a patient-to-patient referral system had already been done. They found for-profit Web sites based on other doctors’ recommendations. There’s even a Web site about questionable doctors. But nothing like what they had in mind.

So they began to work. Their board was established, the staff assembled, and a 501(c)3 nonprofit status acquired. Working out of home offices, these ladies intend to develop this Web site into a nationwide network, starting with Nevada County.

What does co-founder Michael Abreu do? One of his visibly apparent contributions is the Web site itself. If you’re a practically illiterate Internet “point and clicker” like me, Abreu has designed an easy-to-navigate Web site. If I can manage it, anyone can. Prompts are clear, colors are easy on the eye and it doesn’t take forever to bounce from one Web page to another.

Here’s how it works. Let’s say you have just been diagnosed with breast cancer. You’ll be treated at UC Davis, but you’d like to know which one of the doctors would be a good surgeon.

All you have to do is type “RemarkableDocs.org” into the address box on the computer screen. Click on “Find a RemarkableDoc.” You’ll be asked if you want to look for a RemarkableDoc by location, the doctor’s name, or condition/specialty. In this case, we’re going with “location,” typing in “Sacramento.” By answering a few other simple questions, a doctor in Sacramento who specializes in breast cancer surgery will pop up.

The Web site is quick to inform the user that RemarkableDocs does not give recommendations or medical advice. The user is encouraged to “make an independent evaluation of each practitioner and to use all available resources when making a health care decision.”

Important links are included on the Web site. Click on http://www.abms.org (American Board of Medical Specialties), http://www.fsmb.org (Federation of State Medical Boards), http://www.docboard.org, or simply “State Medical Boards” for additional information.

Funding for RemarkableDocs.org is supplied by Electronic Arts, Autodesk, and the Charis Fund. Additional donations can be made by clicking on “Make A Donation” on the home page.

Since RemarkableDocs is in its infancy, most listings are from our local area. However, word is spreading. Bachus and Wallace are counting on word-of-mouth recommendations from those of us in Nevada County to people across the United States. They’re also currently working on acquiring grants that will enable them to use different marketing strategies.

Bachus adds, “We had a booth last year at our local Home and Garden Show. One lady who came by our booth ended up adding four names to RemarkableDocs.”

What if your favorite doctor is already listed? That’s OK, too. Several recommendations are better than one.

It’s easy to add a doctor recommendation to the list. I did it myself this week. Simply click on “Register a RemarkableDoc” on the home page. Follow the prompts, and in a day or two, you’ll receive an e-mail saying that your recommendation has been added.

The Web site says, “All doctor registrations are reviewed before inclusion in the database, and then again on a yearly basis to check license status and accuracy of contact information.”

My personal add-on was Dr. Philip Schneider at UC Davis. Check it out and see what I had to say.

And don’t be apprehensive about having your name on the Web site – you can choose to remain anonymous.

One of our local oncologists, Dr. William Newsom, is listed as a RemarkableDoc. When he found out he was on the recommended doctor list, Dr. Newsom said: “I’m delighted. Ideally, we all try to get good grades here at the Cancer Center.”

If you’re a member of a particular health care provider and you can only use certain doctors, RemarkableDocs can still be an added resource. You can use this Web site to see if one of the provider’s doctors is on the list of patient-recommended physicians.

It would be nice if none of us ever had to have doctor recommendations. In the real world, though, we probably will. So, instead of letting your fingers do the walking, let your finger do the clicking – on RemarkableDocs.org.

Mission: RemarkableDocs is a nonprofit online database of patient-to-patient doctor recommendations, providing a free resource for choosing a doctor and a community of support.

Board of Directors:

• Chris Glaudel, president

• Julia Wyckoff, CFO

• Suzanne Kimball, secretary

• Dr. Christopher Skaff

• Melissa Mendonca

Executive Staff:

• Sonja Bachus, executive director

• Karen Wallace, director, foundations

• Michael Abreu, director, technology


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