We have all been there: we’re looking for a new physician in a particular area of medicine, and the only tool we turn to is the list of doctors on our insurance plan’s website. Of course, that website lacks much in the way of actual information about each doctor. Sure, a little Internet digging can help you find out about what medical school they graduated from, or maybe even a patient rating or two. However, I have yet to find another tool like XpertDox, a new website for looking up physicians.
XpertDox says of their site, “Leading doctor-finding websites use patient reviews to give recommendations about a doctor. Unfortunately, the reviews do not convey the doctor’s expertise in a particular disease. At XpertDox, results are personalized for your disease by examining clinical experience, research experience and educational contributions of the doctor. XpertDox is built by doctors to help patients find expert care for their disease!” XperDox’s goal is to help patients find information about rare and/or serious diseases, and then to connect them with a doctor who can help.
The homepage of XpertDox is nicely built. It’s professional but not overwhelming. In the search bar you can type in “Disease, Procedure, or Medicine” to learn more about the particular item you are researching.
To try it out, I typed in the word “dementia.” A number of drop-down options appeared, one of which said “senile dementia.” I don’t really know what they mean by “senile dementia,” since that isn’t a word we use in dementia care anymore. “Senile” was typically the word to describe someone who was old and “starting to get confused.” It’s a word that gerontologists removed from public use a while ago. Upon clicking on “Senile Dementia” I found a decent amount of information, including a list of symptoms. The symptoms were for “Alzheimer’s Disease,” which oddly was not listed in the types of drop-down dementia items. They should probably just change the “Senile Dementia” option to “Alzheimer’s,” because patients would have to search specifically for Alzheimer’s to find the information.
Another odd piece was the fact that “Transmissible Dementia” was included in the drop-down menu. I had to look into this. Dementia is not considered a “transmissible” disease; for example, you could not cough on someone’s face and then give them your dementia. What I found was that they were referencing Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), sometimes better known as “Mad Cow Disease.” A couple studies found that this was actually transmissible, even in a hospital setting. I also found “Dementia Praecox” on the list, which was just a reference to Schizophrenia. These items should probably be removed from the list as to reduce confusion. Based on the fact that they confused me, and I am considered an expert in dementia, this would probably confuse the layperson.
Dementia with Lewy Bodies was also not included on the drop-down menu when I typed in “dementia,” which I thought was a little odd, considering Frontotemporal Dementia (which is far more rare) was indeed listed.
I clicked “Lewy Body Dementia” and a nice infographic came up, along with a lot of information. One thing I noted was that “Lewy Body Dementia” was said to be “an umbrella term used for Parkinson’s disease dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies,” which is only mostly correct. These two things are considered Lewy Body Diseases, which is the umbrella term, not the dementia part, as far as I’ve read and understand it. There are actually three Lewy Body Diseases: Dementia with Lewy Bodies (called “Lewy Body Dementia” here), Parkinson’s disease dementia, and Parkinson’s disease. The iconographic was pretty well done other than that, although I would also add that a major symptom of Lewy Body Dementia is its fluctuating impairment. They listed symptoms as “hallucinations, impaired mobility, muscle rigidity and dementia.” I would erase “dementia,” since what they mean by that is probably already obvious, and replace it with “fluctuating impairment.”
There are options for clicking on medications that help the disease symptoms, but I was a little confused by what the information suggested on the next page. There’s a great link to a blog where articles about Lewy Body are listed, but the blog is too hard to find. I think these pages could be designed a little more clearly.
I clicked on “Expert Doctors” and found a US map with a list of physicians who specialize in Lewy Body. You can type in what state you are in and list the doctors by specialty. The site also hosts a list of hospitals, which is great.
This next page was clearly where the XpertDox website expertise came into play! I clicked on a physician who matched with my query 100% and read into his details. The site listed a great deal of information, including a green percentage bar for “Top diseases that match to this doctor’s profile.” That was great for finding out more information about which physician specialized in Lewy Body. The doctor’s phone number, address, and other information about when he graduated medical school and where was on the page as well.
I went back to the original homepage and typed in “Lewy Body” again, this time to click “Lewy Body Parkinson’s Disease.” This title (and the corresponding iconographic) was a little confusing. Patients can have either Parkinson’s disease or Parkinson’s disease dementia, the latter of which is described as when dementia occurs after the onset of Parkinson’s symptoms.
This time I went to look for hospitals that specialized in this disease. This was, like the doctor search, designed quite well. I liked that it told me what doctors worked at the hospitals that I searched, and I also thought it was clever that patients could “like” a hospital or doctor on the search screen. There was even a star system for patient experience scores, outcome scores, and more. I appreciated the level of detail, which is something you can’t find on other sites.
Overall, I think the site is designed really well. Some of the pages would actually look more digestible if they were smaller, so that perhaps there were buttons for “Hospital Details,” or, “Blogs on Dementia.” Patients could flip between these pages, which may make the information easier to read and understand.