The Best Doctors survey uses peer recognition to select awardees. Physicians are asked: "If you or a loved one needed a doctor in your specialty, to whom would you refer them?" The responses form the basis of the Best Doctors' global database. This process takes place biennially, by physicians included in the Best Doctors database. Specialists complete ballots on other doctors in their own and in related specialties. During this nine- to 12-month period, doctors may also nominate and provide information on other physicians who they think should be considered in the peer review process.
Doctors who are included as a result of the peer review are sent surveys, which ask very specific questions about their practices. The database is constantly updated by the data from these surveys and by contacts to and from the Best Doctors physicians.
Best Doctors does not pay physicians to be in the database. Conversely, a doctor cannot pay to be part of the database. The only way a physician can be listed in the database is to receive a high enough overall score through the peer review polling process.