Patients often don’t know who the right doctor is for their specific medical needs, sometimes leading to them to book an appointment with the wrong type of provider. To fix this issue, healthcare marketplace Zocdoc launched a new tool last week to make sure patients are connected with the right providers.
New York City-based Zocdoc helps patients find and book appointments with in-network providers for both in-person and virtual visits. It connects patients to a variety of providers, including primary care physicians, psychiatrists, OB-GYNs and dermatologists. When it initially launched in 2007, it required patients to choose a medical specialty from an alphabetized list when booking an appointment. Now with Zocdoc’s new tool called Guided Search, patients are asked a series of questions about their symptoms. According to a news release, these questions include:
- “What type of care are you looking for?”
- “What best describes the issue you want to address?”
After answering these questions, patients can review providers recommended to them by Zocdoc and book an appointment.
“Most patients aren’t doctors,” said Oliver Kharraz, CEO and founder of Zocdoc, in an email. “When they have a medical issue, they think about their healthcare needs or problems on their own terms. Additionally, many patients know their symptoms but don’t know what type of doctor they need. If a patient has an eye floater, for example, they might not know whether they need to see an optometrist or an ophthalmologist. Guided Search simplifies this.”
The new feature also helps providers, Kharraz said. It saves them time by helping “vet” patients to make sure they’re the right fit for the provider’s specialty. It also helps better prepare clinicians for appointments by providing them with information about why the patient is coming in.
Zocdoc is already seeing results from the Guided Search feature. In its Beta phase, the tool increased search-to-booking conversion rates by up to 14%, according to the news release. In addition, there has been a 100% increase in patients booking appointments for pregnancy care, a 190% increase in patients booking dermatology appointments for cosmetic care and a 200% increase in patients booking dermatologists for hair loss. This shows that Guided Search is “helping patients find doctors who are best suited to address specific care needs or concerns,” the news release said.
Recent research from Zocdoc shows that there is a need for Guided Search. The company surveyed 1,004 adults and 971 providers in January. The survey found that about 57% of patients have gone to a doctor’s appointment to discover that the provider was not the right one for their condition. On the flip side, 24% of providers report that they often see new patients that don’t fit their specialty.
“We want to empower patients to make confident decisions about their care, helping them find their medical match and build a long-lasting relationship,” Kharraz said. “Healthcare is complex, and all too often patients and providers are not properly paired because there is critical context missing. This hinders care for the patient and takes valuable time away from providers. With Guided Search, both parties can be confident that they can find a strong fit for their respective needs.”
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