You finally pluck up the courage to phone the doctor’s surgery, and then the receptionist asks you the dreaded question: ‘What’s wrong with you?’ Then, with the wind well and truly knocked from you, you retreat, making out that you’ve suddenly come into an area of poor reception.
This fear surrounding medical visits isn’t hard to understand. In fact, ‘white coat syndrome’ - where someone’s blood pressure rises when they enter a clinical setting - is a bonafide medical condition. But being anxious about going to see a doctor can be fatal, as serious illnesses can be only be prevented if a patient actively seeks medical advice when they start to experience symptoms.
While ZocDoc isn’t a way of bypassing the doctor’s surgery, it does get you through their door without anyone else knowing your symptoms. The online healthcare service was initially released in 2007, after the company’s founder couldn’t book a doctor’s appointment after bursting his eardrum. According to their website: ‘He was left wondering: If we could buy everything from hand soap to airfare with a swipe of the phone, why was healthcare so different?’.
The service is effectively a way of streamlining the ‘waiting list’ procedure. ZocDoc users can see available doctors’ appointment times, and can reserve slots immediately. While they can’t guarantee that you’ll be able to see you favourite doctor straightaway, there are no more phone calls, and a much higher chance of seeing a doctor quickly.
ZocDoc’s review system also makes doctors more accountable for their actions. In the UK, the General Medical Council have given advice to 62 doctors after patients had complained that they had been ’rude’, although not through the ZocDoc app. A BrightLocal report outlines that 88% of consumers trust reviews as much as personal recommendations, so this will give patients more confidence when they see a doctor who they have never met before.
Since its inception, the company has grown to become one of New York’s most valuable startups. A recent round of funding saw ZocDoc’s valuation rise to $1.8 billion - well within Unicorn status. Two investors were from the United Kingdom, prompting many to wonder whether the company is on the verge of expanding overseas. In an article in the Wall Street Journal, Cyrus Massoumi - the company’s CEO - hinted that an international expansion could be on the cards soon.
Like Uber and AirBnb, ZocDoc’s success has been built on its ability to bring people what they want faster and cheaper. And with an international expansion on the horizon, there’s no reason why ZocDoc’s valuation won’t quietly creep towards those attained by AirBnB and Uber.