My Personal “Find a Doctor” Journey

January 19, 2021

// By Neal Linkon //

Few things are more routine — pre-pandemic, anyway — than the semiannual dental cleaning. Routine, that is, until the dentist stops in for a quick exam and asks:

“How long have you had that white spot on your tongue?”

I had no idea what she was talking about. But the quarter-size white spot hurt like the devil when she tried to scrape it off. Then came the gut punch we all fear:

“Neal, you need to see a specialist right away. I think that’s cancer.”

I’ll save you the suspense and assure you that she was wrong. But it took two weeks to confirm. In the meantime, I was a normal healthcare consumer looking for a specialist.

Actually, I take that back. Having worked in healthcare for 20 years, having a wife who’s a nurse and multiple family members who are providers, I’m probably not your typical healthcare consumer. So when I struggled to find the right provider, it was eye-opening.

Here’s what surprised me the most: When I couldn’t find an oral cancer specialist on one website — even though I know they exist — I left that website and tried another. Soon, I found myself looking 100 miles away.

That probably shouldn’t have surprised me, though, because I remember all too well conducting usability tests at Children’s Wisconsin and seeing people fail to find providers I knew existed — and watching them give up rather than try to search again.

So you can imagine my intrigue when I opened up my eHealthcare Leadership Awards judging portal last year and saw that I had been assigned to the category of Best Doctor Directory. I sure looked at things through a different lens. And it was heartening to find so much to like!

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