There are several research options to help find the right doctor, and the process should begin with talking to friends and family, or even a general practitioner to find the right doctor that fits the patients needs. This provides an advantage because word-of-mouth recommendations can provide a first-hand account of a particular physicians knowledge and professionalism without having to actually visit their office.
This way, a patient can begin to build a list of potential doctors, and investigate those doctors, based on what they have already learned about the doctor from other people. Internet searches are helpful in this way because a few websites will give personal narratives of a patients doctor visit, which serves as a word-of-mouth recommendation to a larger pool of potential physicians.
All doctors practice a specific specialty, and will refer their patient to a specialist if they need something beyond their expertise; the general practitioner might send their patient to a cardiologist to check on heart palpitations. So, the family physician is a good place to start when looking for another doctor who might specialize in treating bad acne or poor vision.
Word-of-mouth recommendations are helpful in this way because the family practitioner may be familiar with the doctor, and can pass on valuable information. Recommendations from friends and family may clue the potential patient into the doctors professionalism. There are other factors to consider including the doctors accessibility, or the ease of making an appointment that sometimes another doctor may not discuss, or might not be available on most websites that have doctors ratings.
Doctors, and especially specialists, do a lot of researching in their careers. Once there is a solid list of possible physicians, it might be important to explore some of the doctors medical research. While it may not be necessary to read every journal article or research paper, it is possible to get an idea of the physicians level of expertise by looking into their findings.
This can also be helpful especially if there is a very specific need within a certain realm of medicine; some cardiac surgeons may be better at performing a heart transplant than others. Coincidentally, some specialists may have special equipment or experimental treatments available to them that others may not, this might be important to the patient seeking alternative treatment.