Rating Doctors

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

WellPoint Insurance announced plans to team with Zagat Survey and rate doctors on things like "trust" and "office environment." Weigh in on the idea of a consumers' guide to healthcare.

Comments [18]

Susan M. from Red Bank, NJ

It's about time that we acknowledge that the patient is the customer and that the doctor provides a service, which includes a proper diagnosis, treatment, and bedside manner. A system which attempts to rate a doctors performance is welcome. As with any rating system (e.g., Colleges and Universities), there is some subjectivity.

By the way, is there any way of finding out about a malpractice suits against a doctor?

Feb. 18 2009 08:59 PM
Ravi from San Francisco, CA

When I had to choose a dentist through my HMO, I searched the carries online list short listing those within my area. Then I did a YELP search to see if there were any reviews. User generated reviews for more then food can be searched on yelp. I did end up staying clear of a few dentist offices based on the reviews. Comments/Reviews ranged from cost, friendliness, location, availability, and the "would you go back".

A more complete review of health care providers would be a welcome addition to the complicated search.

Feb. 18 2009 03:17 PM
Mel from NYC

I've looked at WebMD for recommendations and found it wanting. if one does do this kind of rating, then ALL doctors in that area must have a rating, not just a favored few.
I find that the worst experiences I've had medically have not been with the actual doctors, but with the indifferent/rude/incompetent people who work under them. its not always easy to impress on the doctors how much of the experience is about all the time spent in the offices, which is mostly with front desk personnel, billing/insurance personnel & nurses (bad phone etiquette & overbooking appts. counts too). the good doctors & dentists are aware and hire accordingly. but if you're going to rate, then one MUST also rate all the people involved, not just the doctors.

Feb. 18 2009 11:13 AM
Carl Ian Schwartz from Paterson, New Jersey

I managed an ophthalmologist's office for 12 years prior to his retirement. Advertisements are not totally effective: word of mouth is far better. And Zagat--especially this scheme--is not really word of mouth.

You have to look at the motivation of a health plan to use a branded evaluation product such as Zagat. It masks the health insurer's real motive--to make profits! In this scheme, medical excellence is NOT rewarded. This is especially true in the crucial areas of internal medicine/general practice, where the reimbursement rates are so low that patient volume takes precedence over time in order to meet the doctor's overhead (malpractice insurance--paid by the doctor--facility costs, payroll, etc.)

Since specialties vary--as well as specialist/g.p.--Zagat's would not be evauating a relatively homogenous thing, such as restaurants. This is only a marketing ploy.

The real solution would be a total overhaul of our healthcare system, not a cosmetic bandage for profit. This means Medicare for all, raising the top income for Medicare tax from $97,000/year to unlimited (which would pay for it), having the government pay for medical education in exchange for four years of service in an area of need directed by the government, and the government taking over malpractice claims with tight controls as to time to make a claim and ability to sue. All too often, the acts of commercial insurers' "utilization review" departments are tantamount to the malpractice of medicine on patients they never see face-to-face, but the insurance contracts have been rewritten to make redress against the insurers almost impossible. So what does a patient do? Sues his doctor!

The system has to change, not the traditional word-of-mouth method of rating medical care.

Feb. 18 2009 11:05 AM
Millie from North Tonawanda, NY

Doctors should not be so patronizing. Patients can tell if their doctors know medicine and if their treatment is effective. As someone with a science background, I frequently catch doctors making basic biological errors. Doctors do not always know better than their patients and the fact that many oppose patient ratings is probably because they know that patients can often see through their incompetence and do not want to be exposed.

Feb. 18 2009 11:04 AM
Glen Ganaway from Manhattan

I'm a professional biller in a physician's office. I deal with patient problems and successes all day long. I recently looked up several doctors on different sights that rate physicians and not one of them had a good rating.
Only the discruntled fill out these forms. I personally knew each physician I looked up. What was said about them was so innaccurate I don't think Zagat or Wellpoint are capeable of weeding out those with a personal agenda.

Feb. 18 2009 11:04 AM
Dan from LI

When I'm looking for a doctor, I ask another physician who they would see for the same problem. I find that people who work within the health care industry -- doctors, nurses, PAs, etc. know the real deal with who is good and who is not. While I guess a guide that can add patient perspectives would help, I fear it would turn into a bedside manner contest and a "how long did I have to wait to see the doctor" review.

Feb. 18 2009 11:03 AM
mc from Brooklyn

Hmm, I posted this before and it never appeared. Let's try again.

How about rating doctors based on whether their treatments are evidence based? We waste billions every year on ineffective, unproven and sometimes dangerous treatments.

Hope this one makes it to the board. It would be the first time I was thrown out.

Feb. 18 2009 11:01 AM
Victoria from Pelham, New York

I work in the food world and I would NEVER use Zagat to choose a restaurant--it's valuable only for hours, addresses, phone number, etc. The judgements of the crowd is not always that great, the reviews tend to be pretty useless if you know anything at all about food. So what does that say about the quality of info you would get about doctors, who actually can affect life or death issues?

Feb. 18 2009 11:00 AM
Avi from Queens

We need to RAISE OUR VOICES!!! There is a National Women's Speakout for the Health Care We Need, featuring Dr. Nancy Snyderman from MSNBC, Susan Wood formerly of the FDA, and a number of personal narratives of women and their experiences with the shortcomings of the health care system.

Please join us!!! April 1st, 2009 at the InterChurch Center on 120th/Riverside Dr.

Feb. 18 2009 11:00 AM
Frank from NY NY

The value of this will depend on parameters. During the AIDS crisis we did this with the variability being the doctors attendance at conferences and such.

The reader has to understand the parameters.

Feb. 18 2009 11:00 AM
Richard Williams from Larchmont, NY

Nothing is better than a patient's reference to people who ask about this or that doctor.

P.S. Andrea, watch your timing more carefully. Make sure you provide each guest/caller the precise amount of time left as the segment draws to a close.

Feb. 18 2009 10:58 AM
Juline from Brooklyn

I think this would be a useful public service, although of course all ratings should be taken with a grain of salt.
Last week I had a doctor prescribe cipro for me, even after I told her that I am often resistant to that drug. She replied that it was the best drug, and I thought "well, she is the doctor."
This week I had to go on a different course of antibiotics because yes, I am resistant to Cipro. I'm annoyed that she didn't listen to me. Patients don't always know best, but especially when working with a doctor for the first time, I think doctors should listen to the prior experiences of their patients.

Feb. 18 2009 10:57 AM
Jill from UWS

Currently patients have very limited information when attempting to choose a physician. In an urban area as large as NYC it can be overwhelming and scary to pick a name at random from a list of doctors. EHRs might make statistics about actual patient outcomes available to patients some day. Until then, any additional information would be helpful.

Feb. 18 2009 10:53 AM
kn from nyc

For restaurants, the Zagat staff goes to the restaurant and then chooses the comments that they think fit. At least that is what I've heard. Are they going to do that for doctors?

Feb. 18 2009 10:53 AM
Suki from Brooklyn

I've used Yelp to find dentists, vets and optometrists with great success. That said, I am not sure I would rely on anything but a recommendation from a personal friend for a GP or OBGYN.

Feb. 18 2009 10:53 AM
Rory Bernstein from Brooklyn, NY

No one who is serious about food uses it for anything but the correct address and phone number of the restaurant. I would not trust zagat for info on my doctor either, beyond her contact information. The user ratings get distilled into something useless by the Zagat editors.

Feb. 18 2009 10:51 AM
Mindy HC from Brooklyn, NY

I know ratings aren't perfect, but they'd be very helpful in conveying whether the doctor is a jerk or not. I just had a horrific experience with a new doctor who was totally and inappropriately rude to me, ordered a ton of unnecessary blood and screening tests, then "fired" me as a patient when I had the temerity to ask him to justify his actions. Had I read other reviews mentioning these charming qualities, I never would have gone to him.

Feb. 18 2009 10:48 AM

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