Zagat Ratings For Your Doctor?

Due to a fairly awesome article in Smart Money awhile back, we’re now under the impression that Zagat ratings are sort of a scam to sell plaques, but we’re apparently in the minority. Now WellPoint is adopting the Zagat method to rate doctors. Yes, doctors.

From the WSJ Health Blog:

Diners are well-acquainted with the Zagat Survey approach to rating restaurants, hotels and bars. But now the consumer guide and rating company is teaming up with WellPoint to tackle the world of physicians.

Starting in January, members in some of WellPoint’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans will be able to go online and review and rate their experiences with doctors. The health insurer, which has 35 million members nationwide, first plans to make the rating tool available to 1 million, though where exactly remains to be disclosed.

Patients using the online tool will get to apply the same 30-point scale that has helped make or break plenty of restaurant reputations. In place of familiar food, décor, service and cost categories, though, doctors will be rated on trust, communication, availability and cost. WellPoint says each entry will display contact information, the 30-point scale ratings in each category, plus the percentage of members who recommend the physician.

Dr. Smith’s waiting room is “full of old, crappy magazines,” but the doctor himself “listens to my problems” but “his staff is rude.” His handwriting is “indecipherable.”

According to WellPoint, the site will be monitored for “inappropriate allegations.”

Zagat Gets Into Doctor Ratings [WSJ Health Blog]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Dead Wrestlers Society says:

    That comment at the end is funny. It seems that I have good doctors but they have lousy staff. This is especially true with my dentist. When I am getting a tooth drilled and you are holding that suction thing in my mouth, you need to pay attention to me not talking to someone else about your weekend plans.

  2. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:

    I have a big crush on Hugh Laurie.

    Yeah, I know it’s off-topic. Flag me — whatever.

  3. DrGirlfriend says:

    I want Hugh Laurie to play doctor with me. Yeah!

    I don’t think this should be the be-all-and-end-all when it comes to choosing a doctor, but user input has its place. All awards and education aside, I’d want to know from patients themselves what the experience was like. On the other hand, it’s great if the feedback will be monitored so that untrue comments have less of a chance to make it through, but we can’t expect that the feedback will always be objective and fair because a lot of it is a manner of opinion and percption. I see this as a “take it for what it’s worth” type of thing.

  4. rmz says:

    Dr. House would probably get a horrible customer satisfaction rating from most of his clinic patients. Too bad, given that he’s always the one that saves the day when the mystery aliment of the day walks through the doors.

  5. bohemian says:

    I want to know more concrete things too. Like how many complaints have been filed with medical boards. Not just actions but complaints. I want to know if that doctor is getting paid by insurance companies for IMEs or Professional testimony. Doctors that are on the take with auto, disability and work comp insurors are not going to be as impartial with their regular patients if a potential legal case is involved. They don’t want to be too much on your side and ruin their standing with the insurance companies to pay them to provide sketchy medical opinions. Frankly I don’t want to go to a doctor that provides sketchy medical opinions to make a quick buck.

    I also want to know if they are financially involved or sit on boards of certain doctor groups or non-profits. Sometimes it is not a big deal but one of the family practice doctors around here ended up in the news that he was involved with on of those really far out there pro life groups and that he denied care to a transsexual in an ER. There were quite a few people that were appauled to find out their doctors outside life.

    I think there are other stats that are tracked about doctors like infection rates, survival rates, number of malpractice claims. I can take all of that with a grain of salt since even a good doctor will have some bad marks but the guy with bad marks everywhere I would like to avoid.

  6. ohnoes says:

    Too bad there isn’t something like this for the psychotic patients who come in swearing they have something like kuru when they haven’t even eaten other people. Or the highly aggressive parents, or the patients who want to take part in clinical trials but don’t want to stop smoking weed.

    @ bohemian – I think actions would probably be better. A lot of people may complain about certain aspects of their medical experience but the doctor him/herself may not have done anything wrong. Could you give more reasoning?

    As far as your second paragraph, I completely agree that that particular doctor was a scumbag. However, your suggestion that they list non-profits smacks of excessive intrusion upon the physician’s personal life. Sometimes I think that the more lenient take on privacy when private institutions are the ones doing the intruding is a really poor idea. Perhaps during your interview you should receive a sheet detailing the various procedures and people the doctor will not perform or serve? That would be highly disturbing but nonetheless effective in informing the patient of the standard of care he or she should expect to receive.

    On a side note, the malpractice claims system in this country is beyond logic. To take a bunch of people who have no medical training and thrust a bunch of research at them to let them sort it out defies justice as they are in no way the physician’s “peers” knowledge-wise. This was best demonstrated in the Vioxx case in Texas a couple of years back, where the jurors even stated that they had no idea what the evidence said, but they just wanted to send a message by awarding billions of dollars in damages. As a result, a highly-effective drug was taken off the market instead of just listed with extra contraindications so that the prescribing population would be narrowed. All this because the “fair and impartial jurors” didn’t bother to try to understand the facts in front of them.

  7. UpsetPanda says:

    I always said, if I have some mystery illness, I want House to work on my case. He goes to whatever length to save is patients, isn’t that what you want out of a doctor? I could deal with a lack of bedside manner over a doctor who just didn’t try hard enough.

  8. UpsetPanda says:

    mmm hugh laurie. Would this take into account how many times a doctor has been involved in a lawsuit? Cause, you know, House would score low on that one too.

  9. dextrone says:

    Something tells me there’s going to be a lot of debate on this. If any rating, it should come from an official source and it should be simple. (e.x. 3 categories: cleanliness, how the doctor is like, general quality with 5 answers: excellent, between excellent and good, good, between excellent and bad, bad [the star system make it sound like you’re going to a hotel]).

    I don’t think doctors should be rated like restaurants, and the obviously bad ones can be noticed very fast. Also, I am aware that there are some doctors that are better and more understanding and some who are not so, but nevertheless it could hurt everyone. Health care is not like going to a restaurant, inaccurate ratings are bad, and are very harmful because it’s your health, not what if the food you eat tastes like it has too much salt. I am aware that there maybe a more precise rating system, but anyway if there’s any complaint, send it to the board of internal medicine(or whatever else that’s official). The doctors will pay more attention if it goes there, if they don’t correct it the first time. However, many people do not express that they do not like the experience so it is on their part to tell this directly to the doctor. If they complain without asking for better service (or whatever) then their complaint is invalid. As much as doctors are respected, it is expected that for these sorts of issues that the person express his/her feelings and make sure that the doctor knows that. Therefore, these rating systems will be inaccurate, there is absolutely no way to screen the comments and the doctor may not even know about it (trust me, if doctors aren’t notified that thee SPECIFICALLY in there, they won’t notice).

  10. RocktheDebit says:

    We should totally add Dr. House to the rankings and pretend to be clinic patients. Just because.

    “I came in with a cold, and he diagnosed me with exercise-induced asthma in five minutes. Yeah, he was cranky, but I lost forty unwanted pounds thanks to him.”