Company News

WellPoint, Zagat to launch doctor-rating Web tool

NEW YORK, Oct 22 (Reuters) - The largest U.S. health insurer by membership is turning to a dining guide to help consumers critique the performance of doctors.

WellPoint Inc WLP.N, which operates many Blue Cross Blue Shield plans, and Zagat Survey LLC said on Monday they would launch an online survey tool in January to allow consumers to share their experiences with physicians.

Like other Zagat surveys, enrollees will be able to rate their experiences on a 30-point scale in four categories: trust, communication, availability and office environment.

Ratings on specific physicians will become active after 10 have been received, WellPoint spokeswoman Jill Becher said.

Health insurers nationally have been seeking to distribute more information to patients about costs and quality as part of a push to arm them with more data to make healthcare decisions.

WellPoint already provides cost and quality information to its members involving various medical procedures.

But the Zagat tool will allow members to hear what fellow consumers have to say.

Other doctor-rating systems have come under scrutiny. The New York Attorney General last week expanded his probe into doctor-ranking programs, warning that programs may steer patients to low-cost physicians at the expense of patients.

Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf