Week 2 (revised) | The “thing”: ZocDoc
For the Interactive Health assignment, I am interested in exploring the online medical appointment service, Zocdoc. Founded in 2007 as a startup, Zocdoc provides a web based scheduling platform for patients to search for medical providers and book appointments. The portal allows patients to see available appointment times, book instantly online, and choose providers supported by reviews from other patients. The service is free for patients who sign up for an account and can be used via their website or iOS/Android app.
At its core, ZocDoc enables users to find providers and schedule healthcare appointments easily through their app or website. Providers can be searched according to several filters including specialty, location, insurances accepted, and user rated reviews. The online scheduling system allows you to find available appointments up to one month in advance. Users can then book a slot (and later on, cancel/reschedule if needed) and fill out basic personal and health information through Zocdoc in lieu of the usual waiting room forms given during a patient’s first visit.
I first heard about this app through my sister, who was a new user at the time. Both of us have a poor habit of not scheduling annual check ups until some need arises. This was due to various reasons, but mainly because taking time out of a busy schedule was difficult and the process of actually making an appointment was such a drag. Zocdoc took the pain of making an appointment out, and replaced it with a technology/user driven solution. Traditional methods of making an appointment consisted of many many phone calls to ask questions like “Do they accept our insurance? Where are they located? What are their hours? Are they always booked? How long were the wait times?” As a result, my sister and I frequently rotated our doctors depending on convenience (i.e. location & appointment availability). In the past, I had such trouble trying to find a dentist whose hours fit with my school and work schedule that I ended up giving up my dental appointment all together until the cavity was dangerously close to becoming a root canal.
Zocdoc began their booking services with dentists first and began including other specialities as their success grew. When I was first introduced to their app, my sister was a new user in the sense that she’s only used Zocdoc once, but had been a registered user for 6 months and still keeps the app on her phone despite not using it frequently. As she puts it, “it’s great when I need it.” I decided to give it a try. One year later, it is still my go-to option when I need to make a medical appointment.
I think Zocdoc’s success is due to many factors, but its practicality and ease of use has been cited as the primary reasons why many of my friends also use it. I found it a surprise that so many people I know are also registered users, but never talked about it until the need for a medical appointment becomes a topic of conversation. This may be another reason for Zocdoc’s success — personal health is an important subject that people may not like to share, and its app allows users to find providers privately.
For the User Feedback Report, I plan to further explore the features and capabilities of Zocdoc while taking a closer look at the successes of this startup in utilizing technology to improve healthcare.