How good is your doctor?

RALEIGH Blue Cross Blue Shield, the state's largest health insurer, has hired the firm behind the Zagat dining guide to run an online rating service of the state's doctors.

The move is a push by insurers and regulators to make the health care system more transparent for consumers. Blue Cross covers more than 3.7 million people and its online ratings will use only nonmedical measures.

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

The North Carolina Hospital Association started posting comparisons online last year.

The online survey tool allows customers to review their doctor visits based on:

  • Trust
  • Communication
  • Availability
  • Office Environment

The survey will also feature a comments section, allowing customers to explain their ratings. These categories are designed to solely reflect customer experience with a physician, not to reflect the quality of care they received.

For each network physician, the online entry will display contact information, ratings on a 30-point scale for each of the four categories, and the percentage of customers who recommend that physician.

The most recent comments will be displayed first, and members will have the option to rate the usefulness of comments and report suspicious comments.

The tool and results are available free of charge to all BCBSNC customers by enrolling in "My Member Services."

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