June 22, 2001

Vanderbilt among best U.S. hospitals

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Dr. James O'Neill, right, and Dr. Jon Eliason, a resident, perform an annoplasty on a 10-month-old patient last week. (photo by Dana Johnson)

Vanderbilt among best U.S. hospitals

Vanderbilt University Medical Center has been named one of the best medical centers in the United States by Best Doctors Premier Hospital Networks.

Vanderbilt was chosen out of the field of 5,000 based on its high concentration of top doctors, services for international patients and dedication to excellence.

Established in 1992, Best Doctors is a referral system designed to provide individuals with the quality information they need to find and access the best possible health care.

Best Doctors’ database of physicians is based on an annual peer-review-based evaluation of the medical profession. More than 30,000 doctors are contacted who have been identified in previous surveys as “the best” in their specialties and ask them: “If you or a loved one needed a doctor in your specialty, and you could not treat them yourself, to whom would you refer them?”

The survey is designed to mimic the informal, peer-to-peer referral process that doctors use to determine the appropriate specialists for individual cases.

Every doctor contacted is given the opportunity both to confidentially comment on the other doctors listed in his or her specialty, and to make additional nominations. As new names are added to the pool, each undergoes the same peer-evaluation process.

The broadness and depth of the voting pool help eliminate the biases and cronyism that often mar smaller-scale surveys. This allows Best Doctors to develop detailed profiles of each of the doctors in its database (e.g. hospital affiliations, in-office language skills, special areas of research and/or experience).

A recent survey of the medical profession involved more than 1 million individual evaluations. Best Doctors employs a combination of surveying methods and person-to-person phone interviews which permit more detailed questions regarding a physician’s practice and encourage more open and candid responses.

Doctors who are nominated because of their membership in an informal “referral loop” are subjected to the unbiased votes of scores of doctors not in the loop.

Because all voting is strictly confidential, voters are not subject to the institutional, professional, or community pressures that often influence individual referrals.

“Picking a doctor can be a difficult and frustrating process,” said Best Doctors founder Greg Smith, who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in 1986 and told he had only months to live. After he successfully found the best doctors for his condition, he set out to help empower other patients through information

“Because a reliable system of help did not exist, I had to invent one,” Smith said. “That’s why I started Best Doctors. I’m proud to say we’ve grown into an international company recognized as the standard-setter for reliable, independent information on quality health care.”

Vanderbilt was among 28 hospitals chosen nationwide as the best by Best Doctors. Other medical institutions included Mayo Clinic, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Mount Sinai Medical Center, and New York Presbyterian System.

Information can be obtained at Best Doctors’ Web site at www.bestdoctors.com.