This morning, National Public Radio featured a story on Patient Central, a new website that conducts surveys to rank the top doctors in a given area, as well as those who earned the ire of respondents. At this point, the site focuses on three metro areas: greater Memphis, greater Kansas City and, yes, the Denver-Aurora-Boulder nexus.
The Patient Central home page, presented under the auspices of Consumers' Checkbook, which describes itself as a "nonprofit consumer information & service resource," requires users to click a terms-of-use box before being allowed to enter his or her zip code and then access a list of practitioners within various distances from them. The 474 names that popped up after I plugged in Westword's zip, 80203, were initially sorted alphabetically -- but they can be reordered in a number of different ways, including highest overall ranking. By that measure, Boulder's Dr. Dean Beasley comes out on top, with a score of 95 -- far above the average of 79. And the doc rated worst? I'll leave that for you to discover. But he earned a 34 despite the fact that several categories on view in the data drilldown accessible by clicking his name don't award a value because "too few patients responded to report."
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A shortage of information available on each doctor obviously limits the effectiveness of physician-recommendation sites -- and at least Patient Central tries to get a comparatively high volume of opinions before weighing in, as opposed to addresses that condemn individuals based on one or two disgruntled consumers. Still, it's hardly the last word on the quality of physician care in the area -- although I'll bet Dean Beasley likes it.