Standing in line at the supermarket, it is hard to ignore the flood of physician rankings—“Top Docs,” “Best Physicians in…,” “Most Influential Doctors”—that dominate magazine and newspaper covers. Yet, with the many roles and responsibilities that a physician must assume, along with the varying factors that have contributed to his or her establishment, including education, training, academia, and so forth, there is no exact formula for determining precisely what makes a “Best Doctor” best. Championing objectivity, independence, and rigorous physician selection, data analytics companies, healthcare research publishers, and consumer surveyors—including those interviewed here, Qforma, Castle Connolly Medical Limited, and Consumer Reports Health—each have their own approach in ranking physicians across the country.
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Explore This IssueFebruary 2011
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Qforma: Data Crunching
Qforma, an analytics and predictive modeling company focused on the health sciences industry, analyzes physician location, practice information, patient volume, social and referral networks, hospital affiliation, prescribing and procedural activity, initial education, continuing scholarship, and persistence in academia. Kelly D. Myers, CEO of Qforma, says, “Unlike standard best-doctor lists compiled by opinion-based surveys, the Qforma analysis represent[s] an objective approach by examining data to reveal, on a local level, which physicians appear to be influential amongst their peers in their regions.”
Providing an online database that allows public access to their list of “Most Influential Doctors,” Qforma utilizes their staff of mathematicians, physicists, and computer programmers in conjunction with advanced analytic technology to gather and integrate data from differing sources to identify significant trends in physician influence and valued attributes. Qforma’s recent expansion of their database to include experts in chronic pain, osteoporosis, and rheumatoid arthritis marks an increasing recognition of rheumatologists and their discipline. “As data miners and analytics professionals,” Myers states, “it is Qforma’s business to understand the trends taking place in the health sciences industry. In recent years, rheumatology has seen incredible progress leading to breakthrough understanding of rheumatic diseases. Specialists in this area are, therefore, of particular interest. We added rheumatoid arthritis to the MID database because this chronic disease affects 1.3 million Americans.”
In recent years, rheumatology has seen incredible progress leading to breakthrough understanding of rheumatic diseases. … We added rheumatoid arthritis to the MID database because this chronic disease affects 1.3 million Americans.
—Kelly D. Myers
Pleased with Qforma’s inclusion of rheumatologists, Richard S. Panush, MD, professor of medicine in the division of rheumatology at Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, believes that this type of distinction is long overdue for rheumatologists and reflects the growing attention and stature the specialty has achieved. “I can remember when rheumatology was the boring stepsister of medical specialties,” Dr. Panush says. “All the funding, publicity, and media attention went to cardiology and cancer, understandably, because there’s trauma. Our [rheumatic] diseases disable, our diseases cause incredible social and economic loss, our diseases make use of people’s lives.”
Castle Connolly: Nominations and Interviews
Castle Connolly Medical Limited, a healthcare research and publishing firm established exclusively to identify top doctors, considers education, residency, board certification, fellowships, hospital affiliation and leadership positions, scholarly appointments, disciplinary history, and professional reputation as criteria for determining physician rank.