State News

Blue Cross wants consumers to rank doctors

Posted December 22, 2008

— Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina will use the firm behind the Zagat dining guide to run an online survey rating the consumer experience provided by doctors, North Carolina's largest health insurer said Monday.

The Zagat Health Survey gives patients a way to review and evaluate four non-medical measures of their experience with physicians: trust, communication, availability and office environment. The survey also allows patients to explain more about their experience in a comments section, officials said.

The survey is intended only to reflect customer experience with a physician, not to the quality of care received. The company covers more than 3.7 million people.

"Customer experience information offered by the Zagat Health Survey tool complements the clinical quality, cost and other tools we provide to support consumers' health care decision-making," said Dr. Don Bradley, chief medical officer for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina .

The move is part of a push by insurers and regulators to make the health care system more transparent for consumers. The North Carolina Hospital Association started posting comparisons online last year.

The Zagat consumer survey of doctors was developed for WellPoint Inc., which runs Blue Cross plans in 14 states, and introduced in Connecticut, Ohio and metropolitan Los Angeles, WellPoint spokeswoman Jill Becher said Monday. WellPoint expects to offer the service to other health plans next year, she said.

Critics question whether limited information on doctors' personalities and other non-medical factors will really help consumers. Some wonder whether insurers aiming to control costs will prejudiced the data.

"Consumers have a right to know about their doctors, period," North Carolina Medical Society chief executive Robert Seligson said. But "any time data is available, there's potential for it to be misused or misinterpreted. The information needs to be accurate and reliable."


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • Diva RN Dec 22, 2008

    Me Again and rduyall, I agree 100%!

    Why don't we rank them according to outcomes? Ya know, actual results using hard science and research? Things like rate of hospital-acquired infections, surgical complications, morbidity and mortality, things that actually matter instead of how pleasant they were and how you liked the waiting room.

    When I go out to eat, I'm paying for the food to taste good, the environment to be pleasant, and the waitstaff to be friendly and cater to my personal tastes. Because I am a customer. But when I go to a doctor or other health care provider, I am a PATIENT. I am paying for their medical training and experienced expertise to help me GET BETTER. There is a difference. If I choose to ignore their advice and don't get better, I shouldn't be able to fill out some survey and blame them. 

  • goobnav Dec 22, 2008

    For those who are complaining about the insurance companies, look at England and Canada, their socialized medicine doesn't work because that is what happens when the government runs your life, they destroy what their masters tell them to do. As for the doctors, the good ones deserve their pay because they take care of their patients and not process them out the door, the bad ones rape the people and cry about not getting paid enough for going to a golf(I mean medical) conference in the Bahamas. See reality people nothing going to chnage unless you get up and make the change. If you want everything done for you then be the child you are and be someone's slave otherwise, shut up until you have something intelligent to say.

  • ohmygosh Dec 22, 2008

    Let's postulate how this will work. I can just see BC using the low ratings to justify lower payments to them.

    I really doubt that anything but $$ motivates insurance companies.

  • SANDHILL Dec 22, 2008

    I rate BCBS at the lowest. Last time I had them ever claim was followed with multiple request for medicares explanation of benefits. Usually took about three times of sending them copies before they would pay their part. I guess they thought I would get tired of sending them in and give up so they would not have to pay.

  • Dec 22, 2008

    We love our family doctor, Lee Ann Bankaitis in Chapel Hill. SHe seems to take all the time we need for appointments, know what she is doing, care about us, follow through every time. We are very happy with her....Sorry so many GOLO folks are not in the same position as us.

  • mwilliams2 Dec 22, 2008

    I like how BCBS wants you to "shop around" for good prices on medical care, but then refuses to tell you how much the same prescription costs at various drugstores. Yeah, it's real easy to shop around when the prices are hidden.

  • Ladybug Dec 22, 2008

    Some of you think BCBS is bad. Well, all of them have their own issues. Maybe BCBS needs to take the money they're spending on this survey and reduce premiums. The same goes for other insurance companies (especially healthcare). They also, like the banking industry need to lower salaries for the CEO's and bonuses and pass that onto the consumers.

  • Fun Dec 22, 2008

    Just what the world needs, something else or opinions that are unaccountable on the internet

  • twc Dec 22, 2008

    BUYER BEWARE!!! Never, ever, trust an insurance company!! This is probably just a scheme to help the insurance companies control the doctors!!!!

  • Funky Neighbor LEE Dec 22, 2008

    Is it going to be an "Anonymous" ranking or "Public"? We all know about how people spout off when they don't have to reveal their identity.