These folks sent me an email about their new service and the first I’m going to do is look for a couple obvious doctors and it didn’t take more than 1 search and I found a doctor that admitted fraud, made national news and I even blogged about it back in April of 2010.  We need accurate data out there and if these companies are going to solicit business from doctors and others in healthcare, show some credibility. 

Prominent Orange County Oncologist Pleads Guilty to Medicare/Insurance Fraud – Over $1 Million

As of last week he still had a 5 Star Rating over here at HealthGrades, and I posted this original fact too back in April of 2010, so I think we need a call here for more than just aggregating data and additional check for real time information as this is what consumers should get when using services to research doctors.  Everybody else mines data on the web for accuracy so why do these doctor rating services not do the same before putting information on the web? 

Now I don’t know if Dr. Justice is allowed to “claim his file” here on the site or not and if he has internet access in jail, but here it is on the site today.  Would anyone like to endorse him?  It states certification data is provided by the American Board of Medical Specialties on the page.  Below are some captions from the website on how this company can help “grow” their practice and improve their web presence and perhaps Dr. Justice being he has plenty of time now might be interested <grin>.  This also make a point of more sites like this appearing on the web and putting the area of responsibility on the doctor to check and go to all these sites to update what they put out in error, not fair to the already busy doctors.  Who knows we could have another site like this start tomorrow for example. 



You know this makes one more point clear here too as last week there was a suggestion of putting the Doctor/Medicare payments on the web and I agree 100% with the AMA on the error factor and right here you see proof of it.  The article on the WSJ suggested that there are companies that can format and put the information out on the web, but if we used companies like this, well bingo on the error factor being alive and well. If you have ever worked with data sets and transferring and moving data (and I have) you know this is not as easy as it seems as not only are there errors, but you have corruption too that had to be cleaned up for integrity of the data too.  It all sounds nice, but a look at the reality of doing so needs a fair amount of consideration here too. 

Medicare Data Base–It Is Not Ready for Prime Time To Expose to the Web Due to Errors Factors and Consumer Credibility In It’s Present State Relating to Physician Records

Perhaps these folks might want to take a closer look and check before they endorse?  I just looked around and am posting what I saw as patients need accurate information today and this is what I try to do here with testing what’s on the sites and anyone could do the same.  If credible information is to be provided then perhaps mining the web for updates might be something to think about as it is certainly alive and well for finding information to market consumers from the other side of the coin, I just think we need some accountability here.  BD 


From the website:

“Doctor profiles, unbiased ratings, helpful information, and free access to all of it drive over two million visits to Avvo every month.

Avvo helps great doctors grow their practice

Avvo draws an enormous pool of prospective patients and referring physicians by offering more information and guidance than ever before. Our robust suite of free and paid marketing solutions enables doctors, hospitals, and private practices to connect with those who need their services. image

Avvo helps doctors manage their online reputation

Your profile is already here. Once you've claimed it, you can add as much supplementary information as you want to give prospective patients, colleagues, and the media a clear picture of your résumé, practice, training, and experience.

If you represent a private practice or hospital, you can claim the profiles for every doctor in your organization. With more and more people researching their medical issues online, it's important to make sure that every doctor's profile in your organization is as complete as possible. This will not only help attract new patients and referrals, but also allows you to manage your physicians' online reputations.”

Healthcare Marketing -


  1. Barbara – It’s very important to note where Avvo gets information from and how we use that information. In this case – the information comes directly from the Medical Board of California, which still lists Dr. Justice (and yes a particularly ironic name) as currently Licensed. “Licensee meets requirements for the practice of medicine in California.” While the State Board does note his felony, it is also clear that they haven’t taken steps to limit or stop his practice of medicine. We believe the State Boards bears the responsibility for policing their members and determining if, when and how any behavior should impact a doctor’s ability to practice. Should the California State Board make a future change to Dr. Justice’s licensing status, that will be reflected in his Avvo profile and Avvo Rating.

    You can see the California record for Dr. Justice here:

    Conrad from Avvo

  2. Barbara,

    I am an MD, and I have never heard of Avvo, so I went to look up my listing.

    Since it couldn’t find my name, I searched for all of my city, Amarillo, Texas. I returned 674 doctors, which is a problem since there are only about 400 doctors in our area.

    A quick look at them shows why. The 4th highest ranking doctor, a neurosurgeon, retired about 10 years ago.

    Doctor #15 retired about 12 years ago.

    I tied for 19th place. I am listed as William Curtis Biggs MD , so apparently merely searching for William Biggs isn’t good enough. I am not sure how they computed this ranking, there aren’t any reviews by patients.

    One of the criteria is an ‘industry ranking’. I only had 3 stars. This probably reflects the fact that I OPTED OUT of the drug database that the pharma people use to track your prescribing habits. I and many others feel that this prescription tracking is a bad idea, but you have to navigate the AMA web site to find the opt out area.

    Going further down the list, doctors # 22 and 27 are retired, and #28 is dead. Doctor #29 doesn’t actually practice medicine, and as far as I know has never practiced medicine in Texas and has never had a Texas medical license. (He did consulting for IPAs, PPOs, and other doctor organizations, and moved from Amarillo a few years ago.)

    So, out of 30 doctors, 6 of them are retired, dead, or never practiced medicine in the first place.

    This is a pretty sorry track record for accuracy. Avvo has nobody to blame here. Doctors can’t self report that they have died. Doctor #29 is indeed listed as deceased by the Texas Medical Board on their web site so they can't shift the blame to the board.

    It appears that the entire industry has no credibility and is incapable of accepting responsibility for their poor performance. You are doing great work investigating this.

    Perhaps we need a web site to rank the performance of the doctor ranking sites.

  3. From the mail bag today, one cardiologist adds this:

    They have me affiliated w 2 hospitals that I have never stepped my foot in, one being 400 miles away.
    Furthermore though I am flattered that I am now a board certified cardiac and a board certified thoracic surgeon I would hate to see the expression on family's faces when I told them that I took their loved one in the operating room and they died because they were my first ever surgery.
    Who are these people who put important information about us and don't bother to pay attention to the accuracy. Don't they realize they are potentially hurting patients. Can you imagine if a patient had a serious condition, waited 4-6 weeks for a consultation to see me only to find out that I don't perform the surgery they were expecting me to do as per these profiles. Then they have to wait to get a new appointment w someone else and who knows if that person is what the site says they do.
    This inaccuracy of information is so off that I wonder if it can be labeled malpractice.

  4. Correction on Dr. Justice, his sentencing is not until February 2011 and he could receive up to 50 years according to newspaper reports, so perhaps he does have time to update his web presence:)

  5. From today's mail from an oncologist/family practice MD who had ratings fall as he began to check for insurance coverage....and he helped other oncologists with their ratings that he knows are also good doctors, but the ratings are not reflecting this...some nice pro active work with doctors helping doctors here maybe?

    "These doctor rating sites suck big time! Last year, after we noticed a $208,000.00 loss of income based mostly on patients who report being insured (and not being so) or refusing to pay their copays at the time of being seen, we began to crack down with the use of Phreesia to check up on insurance status and forcing patients to pay up front any copays or deductibles owed. Instantly on some of these sites my 5-star rating declined to 3 stars. One patient recently gave me a 1-star even though he never even saw me! (He admitted to that too... ) He just complained of the wait and of my office manager, who is the sweetest person in the world. In reality, he came in late and waited about 10 minutes. He was angry at being asked to pay up-front.

    The oncology group that I used to compete with had each of their doctors get a 1-star rating on the same site. I felt so bad for them that I gave them each a 5-star rating to increase their averages. If they are crazy enough to continue to work as oncologists and continue to take losses, then they need all the help that they can get."


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