Eighteen years ago, we published our first Top Doctors issue. But despite the revolutionary advances in medicine, health care is just as bewildering and difficult to navigate as it was back then—perhaps even more so. It was that contradiction that prompted managing editor Lindsey B. Koehler to ask 10 of this year’s Top Docs to help us understand why health care doesn’t always offer easy answers. They responded with compelling stories of tricky diagnoses, mysterious diseases, and challenging treatment options, but one theme came through again and again.

“Even with all the advances we’ve seen, medicine is still administered by human beings on other human beings,” says Koehler, who’s headed our Top Docs project for eight years. “That means the relationship between those two people is at the very heart of medicine. That’s something that doctors and patients both need to keep in mind as we wade through the sometimes-murky waters of modern medicine. As patients, we have to be our own best advocates when it comes to our health, but we also have to remember that cures don’t always come immediately. We need patience.

“For doctors, it means remembering that they don’t always know everything. It also means understanding that their everyday world is a scary and foreign place to most patients. It doesn’t help that we’ve probably already read all about the worst-case scenario on the Internet.”

As tricky as the doctor-patient relationship can be, Koehler found examples of remarkable success. “I spoke with a father whose 10-year-old daughter had a melon-size tumor in her chest, and I spoke with the surgeon that took that tumor out successfully. I spoke with a man who had been looking for a diagnosis to explain his mysterious symptoms for more than 20 years and finally found the answer with a doctor here in Denver.”

In the end, no matter how technologized medicine becomes, the first step in the journey to better health is finding the right doctor. That’s why “Denver’s Top Doctors,” which begins this year on page 84, remains as important to your health as it was when we first published it way back in 1993.

This article was originally published in 5280 August 2011.
Daniel Brogan
Daniel Brogan
Daniel Brogan is the founder, CEO, and Editor-in-Chief of 5280 Publishing, Inc.