In this “new normal” of flight, who knows if or when in-flight magazines will ever see the light of day again. But here’s an interesting tidbit about them!
If you’ve ever thumbed through an in-flight magazine, you’ve invariably gone past the ads for “The Best [Plastic Surgeon/Orthopaedic Surgeons/Eye Surgeon/Pain Management/Fertility/etc.] Doctor in America.” Have you ever wondered about them? I have. I always figured they were models or something and not actual doctors.
It turned out that I was wrong. Well, most of the time.
Madison Media launched in 2006 with a 1-page “The Best Doctors in New York” ad in 2 airline’s in-flight magazine. Since then, they’ve grown to several “Top Doctor” and “Best Doctor” pages that you see in American’s, Delta’s, United’s, Southwest’s and Amtrak’s in-flight (and on-board) magazines. They’ve since grown where their 40 pages of ads are seen by over 16 million passengers per month.
Madison Media says that the only features physician who have been peer-nominated and selected by the nation’s leading providers of information on the best doctors. Their sources include:
- Castle Connolly – a membership-based publication that, “help consumers find the best healthcare.” The doctors featured have been nominated by their peers. Although patients pay a fee for access to this service, “Physicians do not and cannot pay to be selected as a Castle Connolly Top Doctor.”
- Super Doctors – identifies top doctors as selected by their peers and the independent research of MSP Communications. Physicians that had been tagged as Super Doctors are able to advertise in Super Doctors publications.
- Trusted LASIK Surgeons – their primary mission is to assist patients in finding LASIK and refractive surgeons who are the best and most trusted in the United States. They have a process to add LASIK or cataract surgeons to their list.
- Consumers’ Checkbook – is an independent, nonprofit consumer organization. To find out who the top doctors are around the country, the organization surveyed roughly 375,000 physicians to tell them which specialists they would want to care for a loved one. The top doctors database contains the names of over 24,000 doctors who were mentioned most often in over 35 specialties. Consumers have access to the names for free.
Madison Media doesn’t go into how they determine who the “Best Doctors” turn out to be each month, but I thought it was a positive thing that although doctors can pay to advertise, none of the above resources mention anything about paying to be on a list. At least not where the public can see. So I thought maybe they were legit and trustworthy.
Then I read these:
- Article in The Atlantic, written in 2012 by a doctor (who had just made one of the lists) who discusses why doctors might want to be on such “Best Doctors” lists (TL/DR: it’s an ego stroke and no one should pick a physician from a magazine ad)
- ABC News (2012) investigated various “Top Doctor” awards to see if they were always well deserved. (spoilers: not no way, not no how!)
- National Institutes of Health (2018) – “Physicians’ attitudes towards the media and peer-review selection of the ‘best cancer doctor’: comparison of two different election methods” (TL/DR: doctors don’t trust the ads but do trust peer recommendations)
And then I found THE article about these “best doctors” lists:
- From ProPublica (2019) – OMG, the title alone! “I’m a Journalist. Apparently I’m Also One of America’s “Top Doctors’“
So yeah…that’s how they find “The Best Doctors in America.” Good grief! (which I originally typed as “good greed.” I’m sure The Best Psychiatrist In America would call that a Freudian slip.)
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary