Top Docs: Who Decides?

Who chooses Denver's Top Docs? Why isn't my doctor on on the list? Answers to your most frequently asked questions here.

October 2007

Who Decides?

Frequently Asked Questions about the Top Doctors Process.

Why didn't you choose my doctor?
We don't pick the docs—Denver physicians do. For the past 14 years, 5280 has surveyed doctors and asked them, specialty by specialty, which metro-area physicians they would trust to treat them or their families. Our theory is that medical professionals are best qualified to judge other medical professionals. The ballot is posted online at 5280.com. Every metro-area doctor with a valid Colorado medical license can fill it out. Once the doctor hits "save," the votes are entered into our database and automatically tallied.

So doesn't that make it one big popularity contest?
In many respects, yes. We hope that doctors will give us careful, responsible answers, but there's little we can do to stop them from recommending their golfing buddies. Using the list is a lot like going to your doctor and asking for a referral. The difference is we're asking a lot more doctors than you'd ever have a chance to. Also, by working to raise our return rate each year (it was 16 percent this year), we hope to correct for politics. The more doctors who participate, the less chance that any one person's aspirations will win out.

I thought my doc was a good physician, but she's not on the list. What does that mean?
Nothing. She probably is a good doctor. The selection of doctors by peer review can leave many excellent doctors off the list. Because longtime, well-known doctors have the advantage of name recognition, the list may favor that kind of doctor. However, that in no way means your doctor isn't qualified and completely competent.

I'm a doctor and I couldn't access the online ballot. Why?
We download the database of all licensed physicians in the state from the Colorado State Board of Medical Examiners, and select the doctors located in the seven metro-area counties (Denver, Arapahoe, Broomfield, Boulder, Adams, Douglas, and Jefferson), which results in a list of more than 7,500 docs.

If you attempted to logon to the system with your last name and physician license number and received a pop-up response that "5280 could not locate your profile," that means there is a disconnect between your information and the information we have in the system. For example, if you've recently moved to Colorado and haven't updated your address with the Colorado State Board of Medical Examiners, your license will not register as local and therefore will be invalid. If you have a hard-to-spell last name, it's possible that the information we have from the state is incorrect and you will have trouble logging in.

In the future, if you have difficulty logging into our system, please use the "comment" tool on the website and let us know. We're happy to work through the problem and get you voting.

I've heard the list is rigged—that only doctors who advertise with 5280 make it. Is that true?
Nope. The Top Doctors list is completely unaffected by which doctors advertise in the magazine. In fact, only 1 percent of doctors on this year's list are advertisers. Doctors sometimes choose to advertise after they've been chosen for the list, but how much or if and when doctors choose to advertise are not taken into consideration.

How are the medical specialties chosen?
Through the years we've worked to make Top Doctors better by updating the categories, increasing the number of surveys mailed, and considering suggestions from health-care professionals. In recent years, we've refined our categories to include only specialties approved by the American Board of Medical Specialties (although not every ABMS specialty is included). This system for choosing categories eases the confusion among doctors filling out the survey, as well as reduces the amount of lobbying we get from doctors and hospitals that'd like us to include some rather obscure specialties.

So why aren't categories such as chiropractics and podiatry ever included?
While these areas of medicine are completely relevant and respectable, our list is a physician-only (MDs and DOs) directory.

Does 5280 check out all the doctors on the list?
The magazine's fact-checkers independently verify every doctor's name, phone number, office address, and hospital affiliation. 5280 also takes the additional step of sending our list to the Colorado State Board of Medical Examiners for approval—meaning doctors on our list do not currently have disciplinary actions against their licenses.

You feature profiles of certain doctors throughout the story. How do you choose them?
5280 likes to introduce you to some of our Top Docs through small profiles. We feel like this is a great way to show our readers that these physicians are not just names on a list. In choosing doctors to profile, we do our best to vary the medical specialties represented and introduce you to doctors we have never profiled before.