U.S. News & World Report, publisher of the controversial "Best Hospital" list for the past 22 years, yesterday released a new directory of nearly 30,000 "Top Doctors" across the country.
Although U.S. News said in a statement that its Top Doctors list is intended to complement its Best Hospital rankings, the physician list, created in collaboration with Castle Connolly Medical Ltd., is based on nominations submitted by other doctors and reviewed by its physician-led research team. According to U.S. News, any doctor may nominate one or more peers, but doctors cannot nominate themselves. Further, its methodology states: "Doctors do not and cannot pay U.S. News or Castle Connolly to be selected as Top Doctors. Nor can doctors' employers, such as hospitals or group practices, pay to have their doctors selected."
Consumers can search for a Top Doctor by location, hospital affiliation, and specialty or subspecialty. The unranked results are presented in alphabetical order and include each physician's gender, specialty, admitting hospital(s), board certification(s), training history, and faculty appointments.
Despite the peer-driven nature of the listings, one physician was quick to use U.S. News' comments section to call out the list's shortcomings. "With all due respect... I believe that your approach is very one-dimensional," she wrote, pointing out that the listing lacks data about physicians' ongoing specialty board recertification, as well as patient input about physicians' bedside manner. "I don't care how intelligent a doctor might be," she wrote. "If they cannot or will not communicate with the patient, then they are substandard."
Other contributors to our LinkedIn discussion on the topic called U.S. News' new product "at best, significantly flawed" due to the publisher's own admission that the list currently leaves out physicians in several pockets of the country where not enough nominations were received. "I, of course, would feel differently if our docs were on the list," a health organization CEO added parenthetically.