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Who Decides?

Frequently asked questions about the Top Doctors selection process.

Why didn’t you choose my doctor?
We don’t pick the docs—Denver physicians do. For the past 21 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 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. 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 14 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’m a doctor and I couldn’t access the online 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 9,700 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 difficult-to-spell last name or if you’ve recently changed your name, it’s postsible 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 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’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, less than one percent of doctors on this year’s list are advertisers. Local 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 on the list 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. For nearly a decade, our categories have included only 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 more obscure medical specialties.

So why aren’t categories such as chiropractic and podiatry ever included?
Although these areas of medicine are completely relevant, respectable, and necessary, our list is a physician-only (M.D.s and D.O.s) 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 affiliations. 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 physicians to be profiled or to serve as sources for an accompanying feature 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 area 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.

Denver Metro-Area Hospitals

Because of space restrictions, we abbreviate the names of some of the area hospitals in the listings. Below are our abbreviations and the official names, as well as their health-care systems.

Aurora – The Medical Center of Aurora—HealthOne
Aurora South – The Medical Center of Aurora–South—HealthOne
Avista – Avista Adventist Hospital—Centura Health
Boulder Community – Boulder Community Health
Children’s – Children’s Hospital Colorado
Craig – Craig Hospital
Denver Health – Denver Health Medical Center
Good Samaritan – Good Samaritan Medical Center—Exempla
Kindred – Kindred Hospital Denver
Littleton – Littleton Adventist Hospital—Centura Health
Longmont – Longmont United Hospital
Lutheran – Lutheran Medical Center—Exempla
National Jewish – National Jewish Health
North Suburban – North Suburban Medical Center—HealthOne
OrthoColorado – OrthoColorado Hospital at St. Anthony Medical Campus—Centura Health
Parker – Parker Adventist Hospital—Centura Health
Platte Valley – Platte Valley Medical Center
Porter – Porter Adventist Hospital—Centura Health
Presbyterian/St. Luke’s – Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center—HealthOne
RMHC – Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center—HealthOne
Rose – Rose Medical Center—HealthOne
Sky Ridge – Sky Ridge Medical Center—HealthOne
Spalding – Spalding Rehabilitation Hospital—HealthOne
St. Anthony – St. Anthony Hospital—Centura Health
St. Anthony North – St. Anthony North Hospital—Centura Health
St. Joseph – Saint Joseph Hospital—Exempla
Swedish – Swedish Medical Center—HealthOne
University – University of Colorado Hospital
Veterans – Veterans Affairs Medical Center