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Quality Tools: Doctor Reviews & Price Transparency Tools

Posted Apr 06 2009 11:15pm
Are these tools useful?

Doctor Review Websites

The November 28 edition of included an interesting article by Dr. Kent Sepkowitz.  His article sheds some light on all the doctor rating websites available today.  Dr. Sepkowitz spent many hours reviewing doctor rating tools, including free sites and sites that require subscriptions or fees to obtain this information.  His conclusion:  the online doctor rating tools are very lean, content-free and lack any useful information. 

Last month I posted a blog about finding the best value (understanding the quality side of health care in addition to finding the best cost) and listed 25 different websites that offer doctor ratings.  I neglected to mention that I never use these doctor rating sites because they are not useful.   They lack meaningful data.  All of them.  Instead, I ask my doctors, family, friends, and community for their personal recommendations.  Then I go online and start to research the doctor’s certifications in more detail using many websites, tools and blogs to read other patient’s comments and experiences.  Since this is user generated content, you need to be able to read between the lines.  Sometimes people just have a bad day and they should skip writing reviews online until they have 24 hours to think about what they want to write and their mood stabilizes.

Price Transparency Tools

I am dedicated to promoting price transparency in health care.  This is what I do and that’s why I launched almost two years ago.  If I can help consumers make more informed and cost-effective choices before visiting a provider, then I have accomplished my mission.   When consumers start making more informed choices, become active participants in their own health care and demand greater transparency  --- good things result including lower costs, more innovation, more choices and improved access to medical care. is not the only price transparency tool available.  Dozens of others are out there and I research all the new tools to evaluate their usefulness so I can talk about these tools in my next presentation.  Unfortunately, the price transparency tools seem to have the same disease as the doctor rating tools.  Each has some amount of data, but not enough to be meaningful and comprehensive.  Wouldn’t it be interesting if these tools collaborated and consolidated their data to produce a robust tool where shopping for routine health care servcies would be comparable to the experience of shopping for items using eBay or, where you can easily compare quality, prices and recommendations?

Here is the short list of 20 price transparency tools.  If you would like my comprehensive list and review of each tool, please send me a note and I’d be happy to forward this information to you.

AMA CPT Lookup Tool
MainStreet Medica
MyMedical Costs
Spectrum Health
USA Healthcare Costs

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