In a move guaranteed to give physicians the heebie-jeebies, insurance giant WellPoint has inked a deal with restaurant provocateur Zagat to publish reviews of doctors.
The result will be a scorecard covering areas like communication and trust that will be viewable only by WellPoint’s 35 million enrollees.
Nina Zagat told the New York Times that unlike their hotel, spa, nightlife and food reviewers, patients are discouraged from being pithy or witty which hopefully means we’ll be spared reading about how a physician’s “onion-breath” and the “dreary waiting room” made the experience “hit-or-miss.”
Apparently more than 75% of patients given the opportunity are posting comments, and 88% recommend their physician.
That may be, but physicians in Connecticut, California and North Carolina, where the idea is being piloted, have panned the project.
“It is curious that they would go to a company that had no experience in health care to try to find out how good a doctor is,” William Handelman, the president of the Connecticut State Medical Society told the Times.
To which Arthur Caplan added, “there is no correlation between a doctor being an inept danger to the patient and his popularity.”
The director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania concluded that reviewing physicians is “a recipe for disaster.”
Nina Z. responded that the ratings aren’t intended to be a primary driver in selecting physicians. It’s more like a companion guide to help people pick from a menu of specialists recommended by their primary care doctors.
“One patient might…care more about communications skills,” she told the Times. For another, “having a modern, attractive office may lead to a different choice.”