Monday, October 29, 2007

Zagat Guide to Doctors

A colleague alerted me to the recent Zagat/Wellpoint Press Release that announced the imminent launch of a Zagat Guide to Physicians. I'm a big fan of Zagat to Go, their handheld version that gives me access to 75 guides on my BlackBerry for just $29.95 a year.  

The concept is powerful - use consumer surveys to create restaurant reviews - and it has survived the explosion of user-rating sites such as DiningCity or TopTable and so forth.  I think this is in part due to the rigorous survey methodology and the wonderfully pithy editing (now there's a word you don't see very often these days!). Somehow Zagat manage to distill down all the survey results and draw meaningful conclusions using appropriate quotes. Where the responses are contradictory they say so. Whatever their secret sauce is, I find Zagat to be more reliable and accurate than any other guide on the web.

All too often the free web guides have only one or two entries per establishment so you never know if there are to be trusted (maybe they are written by the owners of the place or a competitor across the street?). Either that or you have to wade through many user responses to extract a sort of average in your mind. Zagat do all this work behind the scenes and that's worth $29.95 to me.

In the past Zagat has extended their brand to hotels, to nightlife, and to golf courses and other attractions. The move into rating healthcare professionals is a very bold step; many have tried and failed here before. I have a feeling that it just might work as long as sufficient patients can be persuaded to respond per Doctor. The Zagat methodology can then work it's magic to provide a balanced opinion.

I am sure that no-one at Wellpoint expects patients to make a choice solely on Zagat ratings but wouldn't it be a good thing if physicians started being a little more customer-centric as a result?

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