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Zagat Physician Rating Goes Live

by John Moore | January 10, 2008

Couple of days ago, WellPoint announced that it had released the Zagat physician rating capabilities to a limited subset of its members, specifically, those enrolled in a consumer-driven health plan called Blue Lumenos in Los Angeles, Cincinnati and Dayton OH, and the state of Connecticut. WellPoint will roll-out the Zagat rating service to the rest of their members in these communities by the end of Q1/08.

Gave WellPoint a call to find out more, here’s what I learned:

  • Much like Zagat ratings for restaurants, Zagat will be providing WellPoint members an opportunity to rate physicians on a 4 point scale on four distinct attributes: Trust, Communication, Availability and Environment. These ratings will be rolled-up similar to Zagat’s restaurant ratings giving ratings for physicians on a 30 point scale, 30 of course being excellent. And as with the restaurant ratings, members will also be able to provide comments regarding their experience.
  • WellPoint is positioning this as a Peer-to-Peer solution providing members an opportunity to assist one another in their selection of physician(s). The Zagat service will augment other offerings by WellPoint, such as physician cost and quality data, with the intent to give a member the best possible information available to assist them in their physician selection process.
  • Asked if the Zagat system would be embedded within a member’s Personal Health Record (PHR) or if there would be a link. There are no plans at this time to have it connected to a PHR, rather the Zagat system will be located within the Member Portal, specifically the provider directory section.
  • WellPoint intends to eventually make the service available to all members across the country. When I asked what the planned roll-out schedule was, received a vague reply of “it will be over several years”. There is certainly no technical reason for why it should take so long. The only conclusion I can come up with is that WellPoint wants to proceed cautiously, first to see how providers react and secondly how members adopt and use the service.


I like this idea a lot. Yes, there may be some kick-back from some sectors of the industry, but WellPoint is taking a bold step here in giving the consumer some power and more importantly, an ability to share and help one another with a very convenient and well known system, Zagat. Some real vision demonstrated here by WellPoint, which is refreshing to see. Other payers would be wise to track the adoption of this service among WellPoint’s members and consider offering something similar.

But hey, let’s think BIG!

Why not have this eventually be available as a little, let’s say red book, that one could buy at the local bookstore rating all the physicians in your area and not just limited to WellPoint members. Of course, it would also be available online for a small subscription fee similar to the existing restaurant guide. Hopefully, Zagat’s agreement with WellPoint is flexible enough to allow this to happen in the future as many more could benefit beyond WellPoint’s membership base.

5 responses to “Zagat Physician Rating Goes Live”

  1. […] Aetna is not alone.  WellPoint has a number of initiatives as well, including the partnership with Zagat for physician ranking.  UnitedHealth, has been almost as aggressive as Aetna, having […]

  2. […] consumers, announced it will now allow consumers to rate doctors.  Similar in some respects to the WellPoint/Zagat rating service in that it rates such things as cleanliness, bedside manners, etc. the service will […]

  3. […] 15, 2008 by John WellPoint has shown up a couple of previous times on this site, most recently for the roll-out of what I considered a fairly innovative approach to consumer ratings of […]

  4. […] up a new procedure that will improve those abysmal outcomes he/she has been having. This is why Zagats has gotten into the ratings game – it’ subjective – entirely. The meal you get one night at a restaurant is not the same meal […]

  5. […] Zagat Physician Rating Goes Live:  There are now a plethora of physician rating services with this being but one example.  […]

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