ZocDoc Demonstrates the Value in Containing The Transaction

Earlier this month, TechCrunch posted a terrific interview with ZocDoc founder Cyris Massoumi, which I found particularly insightful. ZocDoc teaches us a lot about running a great business that is worthy of analysis, and to continue the conversation about user reviews, let’s focus the discussion on the significance of how ZocDoc handles them:

What is ZocDoc? 

Before we get into, let’s briefly discuss what ZocDoc is. According to their website, “ZocDoc is a free service that allows patients to book Doctor appointments online.” TechCrunch writes, “Zocdoc seeks to expedite the process of locating care by displaying physicians in your area who are available for immediate and long-term appointments.”

In other words, a ZocDoc user can search for health care providers based on specialty, location, and the type of insurance they accept. Based on this search, a user can see the profiles of health care providers that meet their criteria, learn a little about their practice, and read patient reviews.

Most importantly (and impressively), ZocDoc allows users to view and easily book an appointment right from the application. This is no small feat, as health care providers must adopt ZocDoc’s platform in order for this to be possible.

How they did it

As Mr. Massoumi articulates in the interview, ZocDoc’s mission is a no brainer. Nothing’s changed about how we interact with health care providers over the last 20 years, even though technology has changed almost every other part of life. However, implementing the disruption effectively is no easy task, but identifying ways we can improve the system is.

Let’s take a look back to see how ZocDoc got to where they are today:

Step 1: Scour the Internet and collect every piece of information you can find about  healthcare providers as quickly as possible – Anyone know a good scraper?

Step 2: Make a beautiufl and easy to use application around that data- for example the ability to rate and review

Step 3: Launch at TechCrunch Disrupt by yelling “Yelp for Doctors.”

Step 4: Let the good times roll as the calls from TechCrunch’s editorial team come rolling in.

This seems like the obvious path of success, right? Wrong! Instead, ZocDoc did what all great businesses do: They ignored the countless people who said it would be impossible to scale a business based on signing up local healthcare providers, one professional at a time, one market at a time. The difference between paying someone a few thousand bucks to scrape versus ​convincing the stubborn doctor to adopt their booking software turns out to make all the ​​difference in the world.​

And the part about reviews…

ZocDoc realized that health care provider reviews left by patients who we know had an actual appointment would add tremendous value to their overall service. By limiting reviews to users who completed an appointment through ZocDoc, it inhibits their ability to collect a large amount of content. It also happens to increase the value of an individual review exponentially. So, three verified ZocDoc reviews are worth far more than 100 reviews left on a site like HealthGrades, which doesn’t operate this way.

ZocDoc’s insistence that healthcare providers allow their users to book appointments online ensures that all the reviews will only be from users who recently completed an actual appointment. The booking system provides the ever-allusive “containment” for the transaction.

Guess what?  The next time I need to find a doctor, I am going to ZocDoc. Remember, this is someone who gives his wife grief over pouring over Yelp reviews when deciding to try a new restaurant. Plus, my best friend is a doctor and goes out of his way to provide healthcare advice whenever I need it. But, does he really know of a good podiatrist in my neighborhood who takes my crappy insurance anyway? Probably not, but ZocDoc does.

What do you guys think? Would you use ZocDoc? Why or why not?

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