Some people have been writing with questions about rare conditions. They are not confident their local doctor knows the latest. And if the condition could be fatal, they want to pursue an expert wherever they are.

Here’s one approach:

- Type in the name of your condition in Google or a similar search engine. - Look for articles that come up on respected sites such as on eMedicine. - Note the names of the authors of clinical studies cited. - Search on those first few names of studies that seem relevant. - If you can tie the expert to a medical center, then search for the Web site of that center. - Use the medical center’s "find a physician" button and search on that name. - Call the doc’s office or e-mail him or her if you can. - Explain your situation and that you are seeking a second opinion or would consider being in one of their clinical trials if there’s one that’s right for you.
Searching for the best doctor is being very proactive, and it’s what HealthTalk preaches every day. What also worked for me was networking  with other patients on the ACOR (Association of Online Cancer Resources) CLL listserv, and they directed me to an expert, Dr. Michael Keating at M. D. Anderson in Houston - even giving me the name and phone number for his assistant. I think that connection saved my life. There are many such Web sites for specific conditions, so going online and asking for help from savvy, veteran patients can work too.

Please share your ideas, as well, and we’ll discuss other strategies in future posts.

And, for my regular friends, Boo says “Hi.”

–Andrew