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Zagat Guide To Physicians
Old 10-24-2007, 08:31 AM   #1
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Zagat Guide To Physicians

WellPoint, Inc., the nation's largest health benefits company, and Zagat Survey, LLC today announced the upcoming launch of a new online survey tool that will allow consumers to share their physician experiences with others. A first in the health care arena, WellPoint will begin to offer the online tool using the Zagat approach to select members in its Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield licensed subsidiaries in January 2008.
The online survey tool will allow consumers to review their doctor visits based on:
-- Trust
-- Communication
-- Availability
-- Environment
On the surface, this sounds great. Unfortunately, the rankings don't include anything on how good the doctor is at providing healthcare. It's great that the Doctor communicates well and that you can get an appointment, but I would rather know if his patients are healthy.

As Jerry Flanagan of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights told USA Today yesterday, “the fact that a doctor might have a friendly administrator at the front desk is meaningless if they have a high medical-error rate.”
It’s a bit like having car ratings only address color scheme and seat comfort: these are nice facts to know, but at the end of the day you want a car that you can rely on, a consistent performer that does its job and does it well.
For more opinions on this and the source of the above quote, go here.

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Old 10-24-2007, 09:09 AM   #2
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There is a risk that people will judge a physician by frivoulous means unrelated to the quality of health care delivered.

However, I see this as a breath of fresh air into a system that has as yet been very opaque to those looking in from the outside. Information to the public is good. We'll take it for what it is. It's about time for something like this.

So Hip, hip, Hurr (that's two and a half cheers for Wellpoint) !

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Old 10-24-2007, 09:27 AM   #3
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I have mixed feelings about this initiative. But I agree with you that it's about time that something like this was started. You have to start somewhere.

The car analogy in the quote is a bit simplistic. Other than things like LASIK surgery, purchasing healthcare is a lot more complicated than buying a car. When you buy healthcare, the doctor makes most of the decisions, so factors like trust are important. In that sense, these ratings have some value.

I read another article on this and one of the criticisms was that only disgruntled patients would post. It will be interesting to see if this experiment does any good.
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Old 10-24-2007, 09:31 AM   #4
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These things surface periodically. It is very hard to rate or rank physicians for lots of reasons.

My opinion is that the average consumer is forced to rely on the licensing and credentialling process to assure a base level of competence (which is does fairly well in my experience). As to philosophic approach, interpersonal skills, judgment, and the rest, they are largely unmeasurable.

As for the "Best Doctors in America" type polls, they are essentially of no value. I have been on that list for decades and frankly its closest analogy is the yellow pages of your phone book. They send you an offer to buy a laminated plaque commemorating your being on the list, for $129.99 a month later.

Word of mouth counts. Nurses in your local emergency room or hospital services (esp for surgeons) know a lot, and are worth calling for recommendations. Finally, making your best guess and not being reluctant to move on if the comfort level isn't there is probably as good a strategy as any.
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As if you didn't know..If the above message contains medical content, it's NOT intended as advice, and may not be accurate, applicable or sufficient. Don't rely on it for any purpose. Consult your own doctor for all medical advice.
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Old 10-24-2007, 09:46 AM   #5
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I agree with Rich. The same occurs for lawyers. There is a lawyer in my community that regularly is on the "super lawyers" lists. He is not a super lawyer. But he is nice and holds a political office.

No more lawyer stuff, no more political stuff, so no more CYA

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Old 10-25-2007, 02:13 AM   #6
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Does anyone know what a "super doctor" or lawyer or mechanic or contractor is?
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Old 10-25-2007, 02:14 AM   #7
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Whose picture is that as your post screen... a celeb ?
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Old 10-25-2007, 06:32 AM   #8
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That's Martha's glamor shot. Not bad, eh?
Numbers is hard.

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Old 10-25-2007, 10:51 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa View Post
My opinion is that the average consumer is forced to rely on the licensing and credentialling process to assure a base level of competence (which is does fairly well in my experience).
Rich, unfortunately the licencing and credentialling process didn't work too well in Britain. The Shipman Inquiry.

I agree, it's difficult to get objective ratings of physicians. Customer satisfaction is important, but does not excuse incompetence. And it's difficult to quantify outcomes unless the physician is in a procedural speciality.

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