ZocDoc takes the pain out of finding a doctor
by Mariko Lamb
Published - 12/12/12 - 03:49 PM | 4921 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A screen shot shows what a patient would see when booking an appointment online with a physician through ZocDoc. Courtesy image
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A brand-new concept in the health market embraces the latest modern technology and showcases local physicians to cater to the discerning contemporary shopper. With so many offerings available in the health field and countless resources to filter through, it is often difficult to narrow down the host of selections to find the right fit. That’s where ZocDoc comes in, streamlining the process of finding the right doctor to suit a patient’s specific medical need, health insurance carrier, schedule, location, gender preference and even language spoken.

With just a few clicks, ZocDoc users can review health-care providers, peruse photos of the doctor’s office and book an appointment within 48 hours. In lieu of the elevator music, patients can choose appointment times that work best for them anytime, not just during the doctor’s office hours. To top it off, ZocDoc can also narrow down health-care providers by the client’s insurance and other unique requirements.

The idea for ZocDoc first came about when founder Cyrus Massoumi experienced a painful medical emergency on a flight from Seattle to New York. Upon landing, Massoumi knew he would need an ear, nose and throat specialist to tend to his burst eardrum. Upon searching his insurance company’s directory, however, he found he could not get an appointment for four days.

“To him that was striking,” said ZocDoc spokesperson, Allison Braley. “It was really a light-bulb moment for him, and he thought, ‘I wonder if I can use the power of the Internet to show when the doctor has an availability so the patient can get in quickly, particularly when they have an acute issue, like an eardrum burst.’”

After its humble launch in New York City in 2007, ZocDoc has grown to more than 30 markets nationwide, including San Diego.

“It took a second for it to grow,” said Braley. “Like anything, there was skepticism initially that people could book doctors appointments online, they had to sign up enough doctors who believed in this process and they had to get the word out to patients.”

One ZocDoc user, La Jolla dermatologist Tamara Scalise of Boughton Dermatology on Girard Avenue, said ZocDoc is a huge time saver and business booster for her practice.

“People are more tech savvy now, especially with smart phones. If they can get on the site, click and they’ve got an appointment and a confirmation a few minutes later, I think that’s preferable than getting on the phone and trying to schedule an appointment,” she said. “We get at least 20 new patients a month, and I’ve heard multiple comments from patients who say it’s so great to be able to book online.”

Unlike some online review websites like Yelp, only verified patients are permitted to review the practice, ensuring that all reviewers have valid claims based on their firsthand experience. By nature of booking online, ZocDoc eliminates the need for patients to voice health issues over the phone, ensuring that their private matters remain private.

ZocDoc also recently launched a smart phone app for even the busiest patient on the go.

“It’s very similar to what’s on the website,” explained Braley. “One unique feature is that we can actually geolocate your precise location and find the nearest doctor to where you are standing that accepts your insurance.”

On average, patients can cut the wait time to see a doctor from more than 20 days to 24 hours or less by using ZocDoc’s website or phone app.

“We’re not only a time saver, but we hope to encourage more people to get preventative care,” Braley said. “It’s also completely free for the patient to use. I think a lot of people are baffled and shocked by that. We’re really just here to help people get their care as quickly and effectively as possible.”

To learn more about ZocDoc or to sign up as a patient or health care provider, visit www.zocdoc.com.
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