Top Docs 2012: The List

Our annual, must-have guide to the best physicians—337 of them in more than 90 medical specialties—in the Mile High City.

August 2012

Who Decides?

Frequently asked questions about the Top Doctors selection process.

Why didn’t you choose my doctor?

We don’t pick the docs—local physicians do. For the past 19 years, 5280 has surveyed doctors and asked them, specialty by specialty, which metro-area physicians they would trust to treat themselves and their families. Our theory is that medical professionals are best qualified to judge other medical professionals. The ballot is posted online at 5280.com from mid-January to mid-March each year. 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 a big popularity contest?

In many respects, yes. We hope that doctors give us careful, responsible answers, but there’s little we can do to stop them from recommending their golfing buddies or “block voting” within their practices. Using the list is a lot like going to your doctor and asking for a referral. The difference is that 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 19.5 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 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 completely qualified.

I’m a doc and I couldn’t access the ballot. Why?

We get the database of all licensed physicians in the state from the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies 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 9,200 docs.

If you attempted to log on 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. If you’ve recently moved to Colorado and haven’t updated your address with the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, for example, your license will not register as local and therefore will be invalid. If you have registered your license at an address outside the seven metro counties, you will not be in our database. If you have a hard-to-spell last name or if you’ve recently changed your name, it’s possible the information we have from the state is incorrect and you will have trouble logging in.

In the future, if you have difficulty logging in to our system, please use the “comment” tool on the website and let us know. We’re happy to work through the problem so you can vote.

I’ve heard the top docs 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 one 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. Period.

How are the medical specialties chosen?

Through the years we’ve worked to improve “Top Doctors” by updating the categories, increasing the number of eligible voters, and considering suggestions from health-care professionals. Each year, we refine our categories to include specialties approved by the American Board of Medical Specialties (although we do not include every ABMS specialty). This system for choosing categories eases the confusion among doctors filling out the survey and reduces the amount of lobbying we get from doctors and hospitals that’d like us to include some of the more obscure specialties.

So why aren’t categories such as chiropractic and podiatry ever included?

Although 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 research department independently verifies every doctor’s name, phone number, office address, and hospital affiliation. We also take the additional step of sending our list to the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies for approval—meaning doctors on our list do not currently have disciplinary actions against their licenses.

You sometimes choose doctors to be profiled or to serve as sources for the story. How do you choose them?

5280 likes to introduce you to some of our Top Doctors through small profiles or by using them to explain different aspects of medicine. We believe this is a great way to show our readers that these local physicians are not just names on a list. In choosing doctors to include, we do our best to vary the medical specialties represented and introduce you to doctors we have never profiled before.