ZocDoc - In or out, you have to choose
ZocDoc is an application (web and mobile) where you can see the open appointments of a wide variety of doctors and book instantly. Like an OpenTable but instead of booking at the hot new restaurant, you are finding a slot to get your teeth cleaned, checking the annual physical off your to-do list, or finding a time to go to the chiropractor to have that nagging lower back pain treated.
There are doctor reviews, reminders (if you use it right) and the ability to auto fill new patient forms before arrival but my favorite feature is the scheduling. The ability to pull up my work/personal schedule side by side to the doctors’ available times and plan appointments to disrupt as little of my normal routine as possible is awesome.
This new way to book appointments is easy to get used to from a patient perspective but takes an investment from the doctor's office to realize the benefit.
A doctor not making the investment
For the past year, I have been going to a chiropractor for some upper back/shoulder pain. Nothing crazy painful but have had some success with chiropractic/massage treatment. My chiropractor moved and I was in the market for a new one so I turned to ZocDoc.
Found a decently (but not greatly) rated one near where I was going to be for the day and potentially enough in the near future to make it my new home base. I booked my 30-minute chiropractic massage for a slot that made sense with my schedule. ZocDoc working exactly how it should. Awesome.
Fast forward to the day of the appointment, I arrive at the office, inform the receptionist of the purpose of my visit. After a very short wait, one of the chiropractors takes me back and we go through the full new patient procedure.
Fine. New office, new patient, I get it, she needs to get the “lay of the land” for herself. However, after completing the assessment, I asked when the therapy session would begin and the chiropractor said that she didn't know that's why I was there and the therapist was not in today.
I explained that I indicated the treatment I was looking for on ZocDoc and ask how come no one notified me that I would not be able to receive that treatment today.
The chiropractor then went on to explain that appointments booked through ZocDoc are “weird" and that they have had trouble using the service.
Long-term consequences on your practice
I have never used the doctor portal of ZocDoc so I can't say if it is weird or hard to use but either way, as a doctor you can't afford to not figure this out.
Yes, today ZocDoc probably does not account for the bulk of appointments booked but it grew 500% this past year. ZocDoc or something like it is the future and an early hit to ratings will be hard to come back from.
Fact 1: A recent study identified that a one point increase in your rating (scale: 1-5), as a doctor, results in 10% increase in appointments being filled.
Fact 2: The same study identified that a doctor with a large number of ratings/reviews was likely to receive more bookings.
The combination of these two facts means there is a first mover advantage to getting on the platform but an imperative to get it right.
Your rating on any given platform is the new first impression. Much like any digital platform, you can't dip a toe into the waters, you jump in with both feet.