You’re on vacation and your child wakes up in the middle of the night with a fever. You want a doctor to check her out in the morning to see whether she’s teething or she caught the bug that’s been going around. You have no idea where to find a good doctor, much less one who takes your insurance and can see her the next day.
Your solution may be ZocDoc. ZocDoc is a free service designed to help you not only find a doctor, but also to schedule medical appointments. Similar to OpenTable, which helps you discover restaurants and make reservations, ZocDoc can help you find new doctors and make appointments with your regular doctors.
ZocDoc lets you search for doctors based on:
- Distance from you
- Area of specialty
- Insurance plans accepted
- Available appointments
- Ratings from existing patients
You can use ZocDoc from its website, a participating doctor’s website or from an app on your Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.
I recently spoke with Cyrus Massoumi, CEO of ZocDoc, who said that ZocDoc is available for medical appointments in 17 geographic markets, with plans to expand to the entire US by the end of 2013 and internationally eventually. The service covers 40 different specialties, including medical doctors, dentists, physical therapists and nutritionists, though not all specialties are available in all markets yet. ZocDoc qualifies all of its physicians, reviewing their board certifications and credentials.
Massoumi informed me that they have over 7 million appointments available within the next 90 days throughout the US. ZocDoc integrates with a doctor’s computerized scheduling system, but it also has tools for medical practices that use paper books for their scheduling. When an appointment is made or cancelled, ZocDoc will show that change on its site within seconds.
According to ZocDoc, the average wait time for seeing a doctor in the US is over 20 days but the average wait for a patient using ZocDoc is 24-48 hours. “There’s a certain portion of the population who always chooses doctors based on convenience,” Massoumi explained. “They want to find the right doctor at the right time at the right location.”
By using ZocDoc, you can see exactly when a doctor has available times and then determine which of those times fit your schedule. You don’t have to work with a receptionist to figure out which times are mutually convenient.
Your doctor’s office probably isn’t open 24/7 but by using ZocDoc you can still make appointments day and night, even when your doctor’s office is closed. You don’t have to wait for the office to be open to make an appointment.
Another benefit is that you don’t have to be put on hold or navigate through a phone menu when you use ZocDoc.
An additional advantage of using ZocDoc is the review system. Unlike other online review sites, ZocDoc asks actual patients to rate the doctors. The reviews on ZocDoc are only from patients who have been seen by a doctor, not from the general public.
“The reviews are community-based,” explained Massoumi. “The community rates the doctors. We don’t edit or pull reviews down. A doctor’s reputation on ZocDoc has a huge bearing on how well they do with our service.”
You can also find out additional information on a doctor, such as education, hospital affiliations and professional statement. Massoumi pointed out that often what matters most with a new doctor is how quickly you can be seen, but if background information is important to you, ZocDoc has it available for you.
A Doctor’s Perspective
I also spoke with Dr. Christine Stanko, a dermatologist with Bryn Mawr Dermatology, about her experiences using ZocDoc. Her practice has been using the service for about two months and she has been very pleased at the impact the service has had on her practice. “Every day I‘m getting an average of two patients scheduling with ZocDoc,” Dr. Stanko said. “It’s definitely been a positive experience.” These patients are a combination of existing patients and new patients to the practice.
Dr. Stanko explained that her patients especially enjoyed the added convenience of being able to schedule appointments even when the office is closed. “Patients like that even in the evenings and on weekends they can still schedule their appointments.”
She also pointed out other benefits that ZocDoc has had for her practice. “ZocDoc is also saving staff time because they don’t need to be on the phone so much.” Her staff is more efficient because they can spend more time with the patients in the office. They appreciate a more peaceful environment “without the phones ringing off the hook all day.”
As useful as ZocDoc is, the service is even more convenient when using the ZocDoc app. Just grab your smartphone and make an appointment without getting out of bed or off of the sofa. You can let the app figure out your location and show you the closest doctors in a list or on a map, which can be especially handy when you’re traveling.
By pressing on the listing for a doctor, either on the list or the map, you can see a picture of the doctor, address, reviews, education, languages spoken and the available appointment times.
Would you like the convenience of making medical appointments from your computer or smartphone any time of day or night? Would you like to be able to search for available appointments? Have you used ZocDoc? Let us know in the Comments section below!
* Open 24/7 image by Tom Magliery
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