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“I really appreciate all the information on your website as it allows me to be a better informed patient and to know what questions to ask my EP. 

Faye Spencer, Boise, ID, April 2017

“I think your site has helped a lot of patients.”

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Baltimore, MD


Doctors & patients are saying about 'Beat Your A-Fib'...


"If I had [your book] 10 years ago, it would have saved me 8 years of hell.”

Roy Salmon, Patient, A-Fib Free,
Adelaide, Australia

"This book is incredibly complete and easy-to-understand for anybody. I certainly recommend it for patients who want to know more about atrial fibrillation than what they will learn from doctors...."

Pierre Jaïs, M.D. Professor of Cardiology, Haut-Lévêque Hospital, Bordeaux, France

"Dear Steve, I saw a patient this morning with your book [in hand] and highlights throughout. She loves it and finds it very useful to help her in dealing with atrial fibrillation."

Dr. Wilber Su,
Cavanaugh Heart Center, 
Phoenix, AZ

"...masterful. You managed to combine an encyclopedic compilation of information with the simplicity of presentation that enhances the delivery of the information to the reader. This is not an easy thing to do, but you have been very, very successful at it."

Ira David Levin, heart patient, 
Rome, Italy

"Within the pages of Beat Your A-Fib, Dr. Steve Ryan, PhD, provides a comprehensive guide for persons seeking to find a cure for their Atrial Fibrillation."

Walter Kerwin, MD, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA


Looking for the Best Doctor, Online Ratings are Unlikely to be Much Help

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, nearly 60 percent of patients say they like to use online reviews when searching for a physician.

As healthcare consumers, you need to know about the limitations of each of these kinds of sites.

“Consumers should be careful about giving them too much credence, whether they are comments or starred assessments”, says Dr. Mark W. Friedberg, director of the Boston office of the RAND Corporation and one of the co-authors of a study that analyzed ProPublica’s surgeon website. ProPublica is one of a wide range of doctor rating sites available to consumers online.

Keep in mind is that there’s no way of knowing who’s posting many online doctor reviews…it could be Russian bots.

Some websites, like ProPublica, post objective medical performance measures. Other websites like HealthgradesVitals, and Yelp post star ratings and comments written by patients.

Keep in mind that there’s no way of knowing who’s posting many online doctor reviews or what motivated the reviewer to write about the physician.

Dr. Friedberg warns, “You never know who’s writing these. It could be the doctor, or his friends and family members. It could be a patient who had an unusually good or bad experience…it could be Russian bots. It’s the Wild West. Buyer beware.”

Research Results: Online Physician Ratings Unlikely to be Much Help

Looking for the best doctor, online ratings are unlikely to be much help according to researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. They compared reviews of 78 of the medical center’s specialists on five popular ratings sites with a set of internal quality measures and found there was essentially no correlation.

“There was little correlation between performance metrics and how patients assessed them on the websites.”

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, compared measures developed by Cedars-Sinai with users’ ratings on five sites: Healthgrades, Yelp, Vitals, RateMDs and UCompareHealthCare. Cedars-Sinai’s internal performance metrics include reviews from doctors’ colleagues and administrators, how often patients are readmitted, how long they remain in the hospital, and adherence to practice guidelines.

According to the study, there was little correlation between the doctors’ performance scores and how their patients assessed them on the websites.

‘Pay-to-Play’ Doctor Listings Common

Furthermore, paying to be listed in a doctor referral service is common among online directories. In addition, doctors can pay extra to be listed first in your database search results.

Doctors can pay to be in your search results

The article ABC News Investigates Top Doctor Awards: Are They Always Well Deserved?’ includes a warning:

“Don’t be confused by sound-alike websites like ‘TopDocs.com’. ‘TopDocs.com’ does not claim to rank doctors in any way. In fact, regardless of true top doctor status, a spot at TopDocs.com is available to any physician who pays for membership. The cost to buy a spot on the TopDocs.com website ranges anywhere from $1,500 to $10,000, in addition to an annual fee of $1,600.”

Don’t fall prey to hype, advertising, or third parties that have something to gain by recommending a particular healthcare provider.

Are Consumer Ratings of Doctors Any Better?

Some people believe that patient ratings are the best source of information on doctors. Unfortunately, that is a misguided assumption. Patients may be able to rate a doctor’s “bedside manner,” but they know little about the complexity of medical care.

In fact, an article in Forbes magazine stated:

“The current system might just kill you. Many doctors, in order to get high ratings (and a higher salary), over-prescribe and over-test, just to “satisfy” patients who probably aren‘t qualified to judge their care. And there’s a financial cost, as flawed patient survey methods and the decisions they induce, produce billions more in waste.”

What Patients Need to Know

Some web sites for A-Fib patients may be biased, often for financial gain. When searching online for any health-related information, always ask yourself:

“Who is paying for this website, and what is their agenda?”

When searching for any doctor, especially a cardiologist or electrophysiologist, do not rely entirely on doctor ratings or doctor referral sites in isolation.

Instead, get personal referrals. If you know nurses or staff who work in the cardiology field, they can be great resources. Ask for referrals from other A-Fib patients.

Refer to our A-Fib.com Directory of Doctors and Medical Centers who treat A-Fib patients. Then do your own research on each doctor. For guidance, see our page: Finding the Right Doctor for You.

At A-Fib.com, we accept no fee, benefit or value of any kind to be listed in our Directory of Doctors and Medical Centers. A-Fib.com is not affiliated with any practice, medical center or physician.

Caution - when searching A-Fib websites always ask: who is paying for this site and what is their agenda?

A word to the wise…

References for this article

Abdelmalek, M et al. ABC News Investigates Top Doctor Awards: Are They Always Well Deserved? ABCNews.go.com July 14, 2012. Accessed March 18, 2016. URL: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/top-doctor-awards-deserved-abc-news-investigation/story? Id=16771628.

Falkenberg, K.  Why Rating Your Doctor Is Bad For Your Health. Forbes.com Jan 2, 2013 and Forbes magazine January 21, 2013 issue. Online accessed March 20, 2016. URL: http://www.forbes.com/sites/kaifalkenberg/2013/01/02/why-rating-your-doctor-is-bad-for-your-health/#25f3ed2a2f15

Castaneda, R.. Rating Doctors: What You Need to Know. USNews.com. Feb. 15, 2018. https://health.usnews.com/health-care/patient-advice/articles/rating-doctors-what-you-need-to-know.

Tracer, Z. Don’t Yelp Your Doctor. Study Finds Ratings Are All Wrong. Bloomberg.com, September 8, 2017. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-08/the-fault-is-in-the-stars-study-finds-flaws-in-doctor-ratings

Daskivich, TJ, et al. Online physician ratings fail to predict actual performance on measures of quality, value, and peer review. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, Volume 25, Issue 4, 1 April 2018, Pages 401–407, https://doi.org/10.1093/jamia/ocx083.

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