How to Pick a Doc in a HMO/PPO? Chicago Loop Recommendations?
June 4, 2006 12:04 AM   Subscribe

A twofold question, both procedural and specific, about doctors, insurance plans, choices, research, and, optionally, the downtown Chicago Loop area.

The specific aspect of the question: does anyone have a recommendation for a general practicioner or internist (what's the difference between the two?) who has an office in the downtown Loop area (and I do mean strictly in the Loop, as I need to be able to schedule an appointment on a lunch hour)? And, if you do have a recommendation, what do you like about them?

The procedural aspect of the question: assume I've taken a list of doctors from my insurance company's database and narrowed it down by my geographic requirements above already. By what method and using what resources can I take this list and gain enough information about their temperment, demeanor, and "bedside manner" to make a choice I'll be happy with?
posted by WCityMike to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
general practicioner or internist

An internist did a residency in Internal Medicine; a general practitioner could be, for example, a Family Practice doctor. The main gist--a primary doctor that sees adults.

Most insurance companies have search functions online so you can search for providers in their network. If you're paying out of pocket, I'd just Google it.

Not really a listing or resources I know of for learning about a provider's "temperament." There are online resources of the "best" doctors, and the "worst" (most sued or punished by the Illinois Medical Board), but that's about it. Talk to friends, ask on Craigslist. This, of course, assumes that you know what you want (and not just what you think you want) in a physician.
posted by gramcracker at 12:33 AM on June 4, 2006

It's helpful to ask coworkers, since they have the same insurance as you (presumably).

If you can't find a good doctor in the Loop (they are probably in high demand by everybody else who tries to go on their lunch hour), you might want to try finding a doctor further out that has evening appointments.

Also, I can recommend Sanjay Patel who was my doctor when I lived in Chicago several years ago.
posted by clarissajoy at 8:33 AM on June 4, 2006

While gramcracker's explanation of internests is correct, it's not uncommon for patients to use internists as their primary care physicians.
posted by bingo at 8:59 AM on June 4, 2006

a general practitioner could be, for example, a Family Practice doctor.

See, this is so obscure that they're not even teaching med students what it means anymore.

A "GP" is, strictly, someone who went to med school, did a one-year medical internship, and hung out a shingle. While it's still technically permissible to do this in most states, in reality no new physicians choose this option; the folks in practice who started this way are rapidly dying off.

Nowadays, most docs will do a one-year internship followed by a residency. The 'minimum' residency is an additional two years in Internal Medicine. During this time, a doc will get training in medical practice related to the specific organ systems of the body (except the nervous system, which is handled by neurologists and psychiatrists.)

Those who complete the IM residency often go on to do a specialty fellowship focusing on one particular organ system, such as cardiology (the heart and circulatory system), nephrology (the kidneys), endocrinology (the hormonal signaling system of the body, e.g. diabetes), etc.

Family Practice, on the other hand, is a much newer specialty focusing on a holistic approach to the patient in a primary care setting. The residency is a one year internship and three years of residency, and in addition to adult organ systems, most FP residencies teach some obstetrics (birthing babies) and some pediatrics (taking care of sick kids). However, the entire approach is different. Rather than being the master of the body's organs and the ways they can go wrong, FPs think of themselves as the first line of defense. They are taught to manage common, uncomplicated illnesses; to provide preventative care; and to refer appropriately to specialists when necessary for more complex diagnosis and treatment.

The FP's make a case that their field constitutes a specialty of its own and deserving of just as much respect as any other; I think it's a pretty strong case.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:55 AM on June 4, 2006

As mentioned before by clarissajoy, talk to coworkers and friends. People will let you know if their doctor is good or not. Also, I don't know if you have the time or not, but try some general consultations. Every time I move to a new city (I've moved a decent amount because of the nature of my job), I schedule consultations with some new area doctors. Many health plans even allow for one free doctor visit each year, provided it is for preventative health. Go when you are healthy, have a checkup, and figure out if this is the right doctor for you. There is nothing worse than feeling awful and sick and having to meet a new (and unpleasant) physician. Good luck.
posted by galimatias at 10:55 AM on June 4, 2006

Chicago magazine comes out with a list of the best doctors in Chicago every year, and the 2006 list came out in January. According to the disclaimer at the bottom of the first page, it looks like you might have trouble accessing the whole article online (I didn't try), but I'm sure your local library would have it.

I've not had experience with any of the doctors listed, though I know that one of the specialists in particular is fantastic and impossible to see. Unfortunately, you might find that they're so popular that they're not taking new patients... But I hope this helps!
posted by penchant at 8:05 AM on June 5, 2006

I have seen a few doctors/physicians assistants with the Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation and the Northwestern Memorial Physicians Group. The hospital, obviously, is in Streeterville, as is the Faculty Foundation, but the Physicians Group has an office in the Loop proper (scroll down the page - 111 West Washington). I have always had good luck with their physicians and PAs and I recommend many of them to my friends. If you want a FP/internist and you don't mind going to Northwestern's hospital in Streeterville, I see Dr. Daniel Evans.
posted by MeetMegan at 12:46 PM on June 5, 2006

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