You're Not on the 'Best Doctors' List -- Does It Matter?

Shelly Reese

Disclosures

May 28, 2014

In This Article

The List Is Out -- and Your Name Isn't There

Are you a "top" doctor? Do you care?

Every year, metro magazines around the country publish lists touting the "top" and "best" doctors in town. The issues are money-makers for the magazines and PR fodder for hospitals and health systems. But doctors themselves appear to be wildly ambivalent -- and highly skeptical -- about the lists.

Who Says Those Are the "Best" Doctors?

Nationwide there are a lot of variations on the top-doctor theme. There are "best" doctors and "most influential" doctors, and selection criteria vary.

While most doctors are quick to recognize and dismiss lists that are simply paid advertisements, their reaction to the peer-nominated "top" and "best" doctor lists frequently published in city and consumer magazines is more complex.

For example, many city and consumer magazines partner with New York-based Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. to compile their lists. Physicians are asked to nominate doctors who, in their judgment, are the best in their field. The firm's research team then vets nominees to check board certifications, licensing, and disciplinary histories. Physicians cannot nominate themselves and do not pay to be on the list, but they may pay to advertise in the magazine publishing it or for plaques showcasing the recognition.

Physicians are generally happy to make such lists. "Physicians are proud of what they do," says Kenneth T. Hertz, a principal with MGMA Health Care Consulting Group. "They're proud of their education and skills."

But what about the doctors who don't make the list? A lot depends on the doctor, says Amanda Kanaan, President of WhiteCoat Designs, a Raleigh, North Carolina-based medical marketing firm. Some may have bruised egos. Others may express disdain for the list, while secretly wishing they'd made it. Still others simply don't care.

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