Top Docs Methodology: How We Did It

Top Docs Decoded
Frequently asked questions about the Top Doctors selection process

How do you choose the winning doctors?

Madison Magazine does not pick the Top Doctors; Madison-area physicians do. We contacted medical doctors and doctors of osteopathic medicine (MDs and DOs) at our local clinics, hospitals and practices and asked them to participate in our online survey. These doctors—and any doctors who contacted us about the survey—were given access to a secure website where they voted for their peers in 70 medical specialties.

The survey was open during the month of May, and then the results were tallied. Physicians designated as Top Doctors in each specialty category garnered ten percent or more of votes. In categories where votes were below ten percent, the top three vote getters were given the designation.

Why don’t you ask patients to rank the best doctors in Madison?

While the magazine turns to Madisonians to choose winners for its popular Best of Madison survey of restaurants, shops, entertainment, personalities and more each July, we feel the best recommendations for doctors, dentists and lawyers come from within those groups. Practicing physicians have the most medical knowledge, expertise and perspective from which to judge the qualifications of other doctors.

Are surveys like this popularity contests?

In a way they are. While we can’t control how anyone votes, we trust that the doctors who participate give thoughtful recommendations—as if they were giving a referral to a patient, family member or friend. We hope our readers regard the results as one of many useful tools in choosing a medical professional that’s right for them or their family.

Why do you only include MDs and DOs? Why not nurses, nurse practitioners, or other health care providers?

Asking area physicians whom they would choose for their family and loved ones has been a reader favorite for nearly two decades. If it ain’t broke… That said we do feature a variety of health care areas throughout the year and are always looking for ways to highlight other professionals. For instance, we are partnering with WISC–TV3 on a reader- and viewer-driven editorial feature called Madison’s Favorite Nurses. Stay tuned…

Do doctors have to advertise in the magazine to be winners?

Absolutely not. Top Doctors is an editorial project independent of the magazine’s advertising department. Doctors who choose to advertise in the magazine have no bearing on who ranks on the Top Doctors list; the winners are chosen solely by their peers.

Why isn’t my doctor on the list?

There are many talented professionals in Madison who don’t make our list. While our Top Doctors vary from year to year, some enjoy strong name recognition or have been working in Madison longer than others and may rank more often. Additionally, some specialty areas employ a larger pool of doctors, and it can be more difficult for such doctors to receive the needed percentage of the votes in a category that meets our threshold for determining the winners.

How do you know the winning doctors are good?

Ultimately the patient-consumer will be the judge. For our part, we ask survey participants to vote for doctors they would also recommend to their friends, family and loved ones. Magazine staff fact-check each doctors to make sure their names, locations and contact information is correct. Furthermore, we run each winning doctor’s name through the Wisconsin Department of Regulation and Licensing to ensure every doctor holds a valid license.

For additional questions about the Top Doctors survey, please contact Madison Magazine editor Brennan Nardi at (608) 270-3624 or

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