Top Doctors 2020: Methodology


This article appears in print in the April 2020 issue as part of the Top Doctors cover story. Click here to subscribe.

Seattle magazine’s Top Doctors 2020 list was created in collaboration with Castle Connolly, a health care research company (acquired by Everyday Health Group, one of the world’s most prominent digital healthcare companies, in late 2018) and the official source for Top Doctors nationwide for the past 25 years. Castle Connolly’s established nomination survey, research, screening and selection processes, under the direction of a medical doctor, involve many hundreds of thousands of physicians as well as academic medical centers, specialty hospitals, and regional and community hospitals all across the nation.

Castle Connolly’s physician-led team of researchers follows a rigorous screening process to select top doctors on both the national and regional levels. Its online nominations process—located at—is open to all licensed physicians in America. Those physicians are able to nominate physicians in any medical specialty and in any part of the country, as well as indicate whether the nominated physicians are, in their opinion, among the best in their region in their medical specialty or among the best in the nation in their medical specialty. Careful screening of doctors’ educational and professional experiences is essential before final selection is made among those physicians most highly regarded by their peers.

The result: Castle Connolly identifies the top doctors in America and provides you, the consumer, with detailed information about their education, training and special expertise in its paperback guides, national and regional magazine Top Doctors features, and online directories.

This year, again in conjunction with Seattle magazine, Castle Connolly additionally opened up the nomination survey process to all licensed physicians in specialty areas in the region for the period from June 24, 2019 to July 27, 2019.

With the support of the magazine and marketing staffs at all the respective hospitals in the Seattle metro area, Castle Connolly garnered 6,100 nominations from 669 physicians. This added process enabled Castle Connolly to enhance its existing processes and arrive at the list of Top Doctors for this feature. Doctors selected for the feature must have primary offices located in one of four counties that comprise the magazine’s market: King, Kitsap, Pierce or Snohomish County. Based on the nomination process, Castle Connolly had more than 1,400 identified Top Doctors in this area. However, because of space limitations, it further selected an “elite subset” to appear in this issue, based on consideration of numbers of nominations and professional activities. Added to that was a focus on appropriate distribution of medical specialties to reflect the differences in the numbers of physicians in various medical specialties with regard to geography and hospital affiliations.

Seattle magazine made an effort to contact all providers on the list to double-check the listing information. In addition to Castle Connolly’s review of state licensure, as an additional measure, Seattle magazine also verified at press time that all the professionals listed were in good standing with the Washington State Department of Health (DOH). Specifically, this means that the physician has an active, unrestricted license (and if a physician has had a disciplinary action taken by the DOH, that doctor has completed all required actions). Please note: DOH records do not include malpractice settlements or criminal convictions unless they resulted in an action. Another good place to learn about practitioners is through Healthgrades.

While this list is comprehensive, it is not exhaustive. There are many well-qualified providers who are not included. Additionally, this list is limited to those practitioners whom, in general, patients can select. Emergency room physicians and anesthesiology specialists are not included.

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