Digital Compilation by Jennifer Jessee

Teach Your Doc a Lesson

By Linda Marsa, March & April 2005

When you have a serious illness, you want state-of-the-art treatment. How do you find it?


If you don't live near a leading medical center, a new kind of company can help. Medical research services hunt for the most successful treatments for a client's disease. Some distill reams of information into a report on what works best. Others point clients directly to the most credible, most relevant clinical studies. "Patients want therapies that give them the best shot at survival, and we give them the best evidence-based options," says Todd Feinman, M.D., head of Doctor Evidence, a medical research service in Los Angeles (310-450-6519).

There are at least half a dozen such services, charging from $50 to $1,000 per report. Some, such as The Moss Reports (800-980-1234), specialize in cancer. Others, such as the Health and Healing Library at California Pacific Medical Center (415-600-3681), are geared more toward alternative treatments. A few even locate doctors, clinical trials, or innovative therapies being done abroad.

Of course, a report is no substitute for a physician. But it can get you and your doctor up to speed so you can make the best decisions. "Medical research is advancing so fast that it's difficult for doctors to keep up with their fields," says Anne Beattie, coordinator of The Moss Reports.

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And if you want to do the legwork yourself, more power to you. Here are a few tips from the experts to get you started.

Hit the Books
The National Network of Libraries of Medicine (800-338-7657) can help you locate the library nearest you.

Surf the Net
The Medical Library Association's website lists the top 10 most useful websites for health consumers. And check out AARP's health guide.

Try a Trial
If you are interested in participating in experimental treatments, you can search for them at