Zagat and WellPoint Rank Doctors

On The Quick

Zagat and WellPoint Rank Doctors

Are patients really the best judge?

By Elizabeth Hanink, RN, BSN, PHN
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Do you read restaurant or hotel reviews? It's fun sometimes even if you never indulge in destination dining. Enough people do so, though, to maintain a whole series of publications, the Zagat guides to this that and the other. It is a multimillion-dollar business with online versions available throughout the world.

Now Zagat is taking its customer-knows-best mentality and moving into another sphere: rating doctors. It‘s happened before, but the difference this time is that Zagat will combine with WellPoint, a large medical insurance provider, to rate doctors in areas such as trust and communication. Patients insured through one of WellPoint’s plans can rate their doctor by name, and summary scores are then available to other subscribers.

While most patients post positive reviews, the practice of rating doctors does raise some questions, the foremost being: Are patients really the best judge?

All nurses know of marginal physicians whose patients love them. We also know of highly skilled practitioners who antagonize everyone. Is there a nurse alive who has not come across a patient or family for whom nothing is enough, nothing is right and nothing can satisfy?  Also keep in mind that most patients, yes most, do not do what the doctor tells them.

Sure, rating sites exist for all sorts of professions. College teachers (and their “hotness” factor) are frequent targets; and ratings on Netflix help people choose their entertainment. However, an insurer pairing with a rating company is something else. We can acknowledge that trust, communication and availability are important considerations in patient recovery, but so are infection rates, prescription use and legible handwriting. There must be a better way to spread the word.       

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