Blog | Tuesday, February 17, 2009

And how are you finding your stent, sir?

It used to be that only teachers and critics gave grades and reviews. Now Netflix asks you to rate every movie you watch and even Kmart receipts ask for your opinion. Two news items out this week show how far the trend has moved into health care.

First, Zagat announced their expansion from restaurant-rating to doctor-rating. According to the NY Times, patients insured by WellPoint (in certain areas) will be invited to rate and comment on their doctors through a Zagat site (viewable only by other WellPoint insureds). Not surprisingly, the announcement didn't attract a lot of positive feedback from physicians. Who wouldn't rather take their job pass/fail?

More likely to please docs was the news that Obama's stimulus bill includes funding for comparative effectiveness research. Up to 15 employees and $1.1 billion will be allocated to reviewing existing research and conducting new comparison trials of various treatment options. Sounds like some grades that could be pretty useful, although critics worry that it's the first step toward rationing health care by cost. For more on the stimulus bill's impact on medicine, check out the The ACP Advocate blog.