Top Dentist? Says who…

Received the following voicemail yesterday:

Chester NJ Top Dentist“Good afternoon, this message is for Dr. Paige Van Keuren. This is Nancy calling in regards to the 2019 Top Doctor Awards. Your plaque is being processed and I just want to verify your information to make sure that everything is correct. Please call me back at 877…”

Huh. I don’t remember ordering a plaque.

Maybe they’re sending Dr. Paige a plaque for free. I doubt it. Nothing is free, right?

I decided to look into the company, Top Doctor Awards, a little further and found a fascinating article on ProPublica titled I’m a Journalist. Apparently, I’m Also One of America’s “Top Doctors.” Written by the talented medical investigator Marshall Allen, the article exposes the ugly truth behind Top Doctor and Top Dentist awards.

The article describes the lucrative business of selling phony awards to dentists and doctors to help them convince patients they are the “best” around! It also describes yearly contests where dentists nominate other dentists to receive the award, such as New Jersey Monthly Top Dentists publication. Dr. John Santa, who used to lead Consumer Reports health care quality, says “anything that relies on nominations will be gamed by doctors with financial ties to one another: partners who work in the same practice; doctors who refer patients to each other. If you look at these methodologies, they are rife with economic and relationship biases.”

So how do you know who is the top dentist in town? I think that word of mouth is generally a good method for finding the best dentist. When people find something good, they enjoy sharing it with others.

If you already haven’t done so, please read Mr. Allen’s article. The next time you hear about a NJ Top Dentist or see a Best Dentist plaque in a waiting room, maybe you’ll think differently.