Companies like Expedia and Yelp have streamlined consumer search processes in many industries. The healthcare system, however, has lacked a user-friendly search platform. That is, until ZocDoc decided to create a platform to connect patients with doctors and, in the process, revolutionize the healthcare system.
For ZocDoc founder Cyrus Massoumi, it started with a ruptured eardrum. After learning that he had to wait four days to see a specialist doctor, he quit his consulting job and formed ZocDoc, determined to find a better way for patients to access medical care.
Massoumi recognized a real failure of the healthcare system that many people have experienced. Unreasonably long wait times were forcing many to either forego important care or to use emergency services, like the ER, for non-emergency problems.
The average wait time for a doctor’s appointment is 20 days, and it can be as high as 45 in areas like Boston. With hundreds of thousands of unfilled cancellations each day – between 14 and 42% of appointments are cancelled at the last minute – the inefficient system was costly for doctors and patients alike.
The free service allows patients to book doctor appointments, read reviews, research physicians and guarantee that their insurance qualifies – all without waiting on hold, talking to a receptionist, or setting foot in a doctor’s office.
The startup took time to gain traction. Their humble beginnings included door-to-door outreach at doctors’ offices with a PowerPoint and sketches of a ZocDoc interface. For the first two years the company only served dentists in the New York area. This testing phase allowed ZocDoc to perfect their product before expanding.
Building a two-sided marketplace – connecting doctors on one end and patients on the other – requires buy-in from both to be viable. As doctors saw the benefits of being listed and patients recognized the ease of use, ZocDoc rapidly expanded. More than 1.7 million patients currently use ZocDoc each month, and the company covers 1,600 cities. It’s not hard to see why – 40% of ZocDoc appointments take place within 24 hours.
So far there exists very little viable competition – BookMyDoctor.com, HealthLeap.com, HelpingDoc.com and FindADoctor.com all lack the necessary volume of participating doctors. WebMD.com creates comprehensive lists but doesn’t provide phone numbers or ZocDoc’s other features.
ZocDoc is in the process of expanding its already significant coverage, and is also introducing new products to the marketplace. The startup recently released ZocDoc Check-In, allowing users to fill out their medical paperwork online, increasing the ease and speed of visits.