New doctor ratings website uses inside information

Posted at 7:00 AM, Apr 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-03 10:00:55-04

Right now, all sorts of doctor rating websites are a Google search away.

But a just launched site is giving San Diegans a much deeper look at some local physicians. That’s because it relies on information coming directly from insurance companies.

The site,, looks at whether doctors are ordering recommended tests for patients in certain age groups or with medical conditions.

But some local physicians are warning San Diegans - it's not that simple.

When San Diego doctor Ted Mazer looks up his ratings online, his reactions to the sites - aren't usually positive,

“I actually find most of them to be bogus and garbage,” he said.

One reason - they rely on patients for feedback, so one site may have positive comments, another - not so much.

But a new site by the California Healthcare Information System doesn't ask patients for any information- because major insurers like Blue Cross, Blue Shield, and United Health – supply it all.

It rates doctors based on whether they billed for tests recommended for people at certain ages or with certain conditions.

“It's basically did he recommend or did he or she perform the study or have the study performed,” Mazer said.

But Mazer said there's a big problem with assigning stars based on that.

It's that patients don't always actually get those recommended tests - and that can downgrade doctors like him.

“I dictated two letters last evening to patients who we asked them to get, one was a sleep study, one was a scan, doing the right thing for the patient, and the patient doesn't follow through,” Mazer said.

Rachel Brodie, the rating site's director, pointed out the boldface language on its home page - explaining that exact limitation in the data.  She says doctors helped develop and guide the ratings system.

“We try to address those issues with caveat language and I will see this is a journey, it’s evolving and growing,” Brodie said.

The site now has about 750 San Diego doctors on it, but that number will grow as it adds more recommended treatments.

“We try to address those issues with caveat language and I will see this is a journey, it’s evolving and growing,” she said.

Brodie said the site's not perfect, but the goal is to improve communication between doctors and their patients.

It's a goal Mazer is behind.

“We want patients to get good, affordable care,” Mazer said, “and keep that cost down. “