Best Doctors in Hawaii 2008

Why guess, when it comes to your health? These doctors come highly recommended—by doctors themselves.

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It can be bewildering to fall ill and suddenly find yourself immersed in a world you have perhaps never seen outside of television hospital dramas. If you need a medical specialist, you might not even know where to start. That’s where Best Doctors Inc. comes in. This research firm surveys doctors nationwide, starting with a simple question: “If you or a loved one needed a doctor in your specialty, to whom would you refer them?” Best Doctors then spends two years on further surveying and vetting the doctors identified in that initial survey. It’s not a random survey; only current Best Doctors physicians can participate.

One of the qualities we’ve always liked about this resource is that Best Doctors does not pay physicians to be in the list, nor can doctors purchase a place on the list. In fact, Best Doctors releases its list to regional magazines such as HONOLULU for free, to raise awareness. The firm’s paying customers are people in search of specialists through employee benefit plans and insurance programs.

If there’s any drawback to this methodology, it’s that it is focused on specialists, rather than general practitioners. Best Doctors would be the first to tell you that if you’re happy with your current doctor, there’s no need to switch physicians. The firm’s research method also tends to favor physicians at larger, urban hospitals, if only because they are more likely to see complex cases requiring multiple specialists.

Every two years, we offer this list of Hawaii’s Best Doctors, hoping that you’ll never need it. But if you do, we hope it helps.

To purchase the 2008 Best Doctors issue, please visit our online store.

These lists are excerpted  from The Best Doctors in America 2007-2008 database, which includes approximately 40,000 doctors in more than 40 medical specialties. The Best Doctors in America database is compiled and maintained by Best Doctors Inc.  For more information, visit, or contact Best Doctors at 800-675-1199 or e-mail at Please note that lists of doctors are not available on the Best Doctors Web site. 


David Lee stresses that prevention is key when it comes to heart health.

Photo by Rae Huo

Heart Smart 

Heart disease is still the nation’s—and the state’s—No. 1 killer. What you may not have heard is that, over the past 20 years, the mortality rate of the disease has decreased by 50 percent. What’s changed? According to Dr. David Lee, of Straub Clinic and Hospital’s department of cardiology, the change can be attributed to one thing: prevention.

“People know they don’t want to end up on our operating table,” Lee says. “The thing I’m most commonly asked is, ‘How can I prevent this from happening?’ There are things we can do ourselves that are clearly shown to work.” First and foremost, Lee says, quit smoking. Eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, manage your cholesterol and blood pressure and know your family history—“It can be a crystal ball to your own health,” Lee says.

It’s never too early to start these preventive measures. Because the atherosclerotic process begins when we are only teenagers, Lee stresses early education. “It can take decades to result in anything noticeable,” Lee says. “Very few diseases are that gradual. A healthy lifestyle needs to start as soon as possible.”


Angela Pratt helps women make their health a priority.

Photo by Rae Huo

Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies

The energizer bunny isn’t the only one who keeps going and going. “Women today lead very busy lives,” says Angela Pratt, M.D., who practices at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children and is a clinical professor for the department of OB/GYN’s minimally invasive surgery program at the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine. “Because they’re so busy, women tend to delay childbearing until later in life,” she says.

Understandably, a lot of these women are concerned about their ability to get pregnant. “There are a lot of new options now for couples that want to have a family,” Pratt says. Women having difficulty getting pregnant after six months should be evaluated for infertility. Pratt specializes in minimally invasive procedures, including laparoscopy and laser therapy, which are used to discover the reasons for infertility.

Once they are pregnant, however, the treatment for older moms is typically the same. Just seek care as early as possible. “When we make our own health a priority, we’re also taking care of others,” says Pratt.


Two of Hawaii's best gastroenterologists, Dr. Stanley Shimoda (left) and his son, Dr. Neal Shimoda.  Neal says of his son, "I don't think he'll practice with me someday, but you never know.  I don't think my dad thought I would either."

Photo by Rae Huo

Colon Care

Does the thought of having a colonoscopy send you running in the opposite direction? It shouldn’t, says Neal Shimoda, M.D., of Kuakini Medical Plaza. “If you’re nervous about it, talk to friends and family who’ve had it done. It’s not as bad as it sounds, and people will tell you that over and over again,” says Shimoda. In some cases, advanced screening methods, such as virtual colonoscopy or CT colonography, can be used to provide a simulated 3-D view of the colon with a noninvasive procedure.

Every day Shimoda fields concerns about colon polyps and colon cancer, and with a slightly higher incidence in the Asian population, the doctor urges patients to be proactive. His advice? Everyone age 50 and older should have a colonoscopy, but patients with a family history of polyps or colon cancer shouldn’t wait until then. Instead, they should be screened 10 years earlier than the age of the first person in the family to have colon polyps or cancer. If your brother was diagnosed at 55, for example, get screened at 45.


Stella S. Matsuda urges patients to keep the body's largest organ protected.

Photo by Rae Huo



Skin Safety

Although we enjoy the sun in the Islands, the consequences of all those beautiful rays aren’t so beautiful for your skin or your health.

Stella Matsuda, M.D., has practiced dermatology for more than 20 years. “The most important thing is watching how much sun you get exposed to in the first place,” Matsuda says. She recommends avoiding the sun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest. “Sunscreen is important, but it shouldn’t be your only form of protection.” Instead, she says, use it, plus hats and sun-protective clothing.    

Matsuda also suggests getting screened for skin cancer at least annually. Work with your doctor to get educated on the warning signs and tell her about any spots that you suspect to be abnormal. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, but it’s also one of the most curable if caught early. “Be active in your care,” Matsuda says, “and speak with your doctor. It’s a team effort.”