Doctors in War: Forbes Publishes Israel’s Best Doctors Magazine for 2024

Dr. Asi Sharon (R) Prof. A and Dr. Ido Strauss | Photo: NIr Slakman
Dr. Asi Sharon (R) Prof. A and Dr. Ido Strauss | Photo: NIr Slakman
Compiling the annual Forbes list of the best doctors is a challenging task every year. This year it was an especially difficult task. This issue, which was supposed to mark a decade of the Forbes project in October 2023, was postponed and is now being published. During the past months, the list has been updated and includes 1,386 doctors in 186 fields and subspecialties.

The list of the best doctors in Israel was supposed to be published in 2023. October 2023, to be precise. This was the original target date for the publication of the annual list, which brings together the most selected medical professionals – the result of lengthy and in-depth research and data collection. In fact, we were supposed to mark the publication of the 10th annual edition.

The murderous terrorist attack of October 7, and the war that broke out in its wake naturally shuffled all the cards and the publication of the list was postponed to the current date.

During the past months, since the terrorist attack and the outbreak of the war, the public has rediscovered the term “angels in white.” Israel’s medical system personnel, who on that black Saturday mobilized for the most sacred national mission – saving lives. Their heroic actions on that bloody day and the difficult days that followed are interwoven with stories of resourcefulness, professionalism, initiative and courage – those that led to saving the lives of thousands of civilians and soldiers.

One of the important tasks that managers and doctors in the Israeli healthcare system testify to is the need to continue the routine treatment activity for the entire public during the war. This is not a simple task at all these days.

What is a good doctor?

Alongside the extensive engagement in war issues, the heart of the issue is, as every year, the list of doctors. As every year, the list is based on comprehensive, professional and in-depth research, the result of work that lasted for over a year. This is the tenth time we are publishing the list of doctors. Over the years, the list has grown and expanded to new fields, the number of doctors participating in the collection of materials and recommendations has increased – and we continue to expand the survey pool all the time.

Forbes Israel’s Best Doctors cover | Photo: Nir Slakman

The first challenge and perhaps the most elusive definition of all is what is a good doctor anyway? Is a doctor who is professionally excellent, but is not necessarily attentive to the patient and his family, treats him as another patient in an endless assembly line with a lack of understanding and patience – can such a person be considered a good doctor?

And what about excellent doctors against whom there are suspicions of problematic, ethical, financial or other conduct? This is definitely something to think about when purchasing a service from a professional – but is it really a consideration for a heart patient who currently needs the best doctor he can get?

And it doesn’t end there. How do you even choose good doctors? After all, the Ministry of Health in Israel, like in most of the world, refrains from publishing qualitative measures about doctors, such as how many of their surgeries were successful, how many of their patients recovered fully, etc. This statistic does not exist and there are not bad reasons for this, from the problematic nature of comparing “success rates” between different disciplines and procedures to the concern that given such statistics openly to the public, doctors who want to maintain their status will avoid taking on more complex and complicated cases, for fear of harming their rating.

The Patient’s Rights Law requires doctors to provide their patients with all the relevant information regarding the various methods of treatment for the disease and the chances of recovery. They are also required to provide information about their training and role – but in practice this information is provided only at the micro level, after a relationship has already been established between the doctor and the patient. Anyone who tries to find out details such as seniority and success rate in surgeries in advance, or even whether the doctor they wish to consult was involved in ethical violations in the past, will find that it is very difficult to locate this information, let alone from an official and reliable source.

So what’s left? You can conduct a survey among patients. But patients can be an excellent source for opinions on the doctor’s accessibility, openness and patience – and these are of course very important metrics – but for the most part they do not have the ability to examine the treatment professionally, and certainly not to compare it to other doctors.

This is Our Methodology

According to our method, then, the only ones who have the necessary professional knowledge to identify the best doctors are the doctors themselves. Therefore, the list of the best doctors in Israel is not a recommendation of the Forbes editorial staff nor is it based on patient recommendations – it is the product of an extensive Peer Review, which every year thickens with the recommendations of hundreds of new doctors. The list is composed of 36 medical fields divided into 186 subcategories.

In each field, we approached expert doctors and asked them to recommend other excellent doctors in each of the subspecialties that make up their field of expertise.

Simply put – we asked them to recommend the doctors they would refer their relatives to if they needed treatment or an examination. We then approached the recommended ones with the exact same question, and so on. And so we collected a list of thousands of doctors recommended by their peers. Of these, only the most prominent recommended in each field are included in the list – 1,386 such doctors are presented in it this year.

But even our testing method is not without problems. We are of course aware that doctors are human beings, and as such they have various biases – friends, professional rivals, interests in favor of their workplace, etc.

In order to reduce the impact of these biases, we employed a variety of tools: first and foremost, we reduced the biases by constantly increasing the number of doctors from whom we request recommendations, and limited the type of recommendations. Thus, a doctor could recommend a colleague from the same medical institution where he works at most once; recommendations given by a particular doctor to those who do not work with him in the same institution were given more weight than recommendations given by the same doctor to doctors from his institution; subspecialties with a small number of doctors were given different weight than fields where it is easier to get recommendations due to the large number of doctors, and more. In addition, in certain fields we proactively opened new “threads” of recommendations from new doctors from small and peripheral medical institutions.

All these instruments, and others, were intended to significantly reduce the biases that may affect our recommenders, but it is quite possible that there are excellent doctors who are missing from the list. We believe that among all the possible methods for compiling a reliable list, our method is the best and cleanest. Among other things, a method like ours allows for renewal – every year, since the beginning of the project in 2014, we approach new recommenders, and give their recommendations more weight than past recommendations. Thus, every year, the list expands and is updated.

After compiling the list each year, we approach all the medical centers that have doctors on the list, and perform a Fact Check with them – make sure we did not err in the names of the doctors, their titles, the definition of the exact specialization and the description of their role.

Links between fields of specialization

The 1,386 doctors on the list work in close to 50 medical institutions in Israel, public and private. In addition, there are also dozens of doctors from the private sector who run an independent practice. It should be noted that many of the doctors on the list work both in the public system and privately – as part of teams of private institutions or in private clinics. The information about each doctor on the list is given first and foremost about his work in the public system. For doctors on the list who do not work in the public system, it will be noted that they work privately.

The consideration that guided us in editing the list was the ease of use for the readers. Therefore, we tried to create in each field of specialization an internal division as clear as possible, and to reduce fields where the number of doctors is not high under more general headings (which do not necessarily overlap with the formal professional names used in Israel for each subspecialty).

The list is arranged in alphabetical order: first by field titles, then by the subspecialties displayed under each field, and then by the last names of the doctors.

Each doctor appears on the list only once, although some of them could be classified under more than one field. When we had to decide under which of the fields the doctor’s name would appear, we tried to make our choice reflect his main occupation in everyday life. Hundreds of doctors on the list specialize in treating children, and their names are listed distinctly under each medical field where there is an accepted practice that focuses on children.

We also added links connecting the fields: next to each subspecialty that has relevant parallels in other medical fields (for example: urological oncology and oncological urology), we noted for the readers the fields that we recommend them to also look at.

In addition, at the end of each main field (for example oncology) we noted in which additional main fields there is adjacent medical activity (for example: in addition to oncologists, a reader interested in the field of cancer may also be interested in the list of surgeons or radiologists).

We devoted a lot of time to finding out the current details of each doctor on the list – who became a professor, who retired, who was promoted in his position, and so on, so that the list would be accurate, hoping that no mistakes were made during the production of the list before you.

The list of doctors is the product of our hard work, as described above. However, the list does not constitute a recommendation or quality control, and the presence of a doctor on the list does not guarantee that the visit to that doctor will be the same experience for all visitors. By the same token, the absence of a doctor from the list does not mean that he is not a skilled and good professional, but only that he did not enter our methodology. The list reflects a snapshot at a given time, in which we tried to cancel various biases and get a faithful picture of the situation.

What do we profit from?

Forbes Israel magazine is a business entity, but like all Forbes rankings and lists, inclusion in the list of doctors is not conditioned on any kind of payment. Unlike other entities, we have no business relationship of any kind with the doctors on the list, they do not pay for their presence on it, and we also do not sell the highlighting of certain doctors’ names or charge for photos of the doctors on the list. This is a point that is very important for us to emphasize, and therefore we declare it in the clearest way possible, without qualifications or vague legal wording.

Like any magazine or newspaper, we sell paid marketing content pages, separate from the list. These pages are marked with a frame with our special promotional sign (the marketing content brand of Forbes Israel) at the top of the page, and with the text “The Commercial Department” at the bottom of the marketing content pages. We make sure that the marketing content pages do not include content that could be interpreted or appear to be part of our list. In addition, we of course sell regular advertising pages.

And of course, we also make a living from selling issues of the magazine to the public, which every year expresses confidence in our product and purchases the issue in large quantities. Without these purchases and the trust they reflect, we would not be able to compile such an independent list. The issue can be purchased through the Forbes Israel website, where you can purchase the printed magazine that will be delivered by mail, or alternatively, a digital version of the magazine that will be sent to the email address you enter.

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