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How To Get Patient Appointments Booked With ZocDoc

The most important point to understand about ZocDoc is that it’s all about getting that appointment scheduled. ZocDoc is a full-fledged marketing/sales, appointment booking SaaS that integrates with your project management system to allow for real time, online booking through the ZocDoc site.

So this site isn’t a medical practice review site like most of the others. Most medical practice review sites collect publicly and commercially available information about doctors and practices and aggregate it so potential patients can search through it. Review functionality is included as a data value add the review site provides since patient feedback is certainly valuable to people selecting a doctor.

In contrast, ZocDoc is a pure play-to-pay set up for the doctors and practices. You must buy a subscription to have a profile on ZocDoc. There’s a lot of back-end functionality you get for your money, in addition to the real-time appointment setting, like having a secure electronic delivery system so patients can fill out paperwork online and automated appointment reminders.

But not just everyone can buy in. According to ZocDoc’s website, it currently only serves a geographic range covering around 40% of the U.S. population. Second, they have entrance standards before you can post a profile on their site. They don’t share them all, but for doctors it starts with being licensed on the state level and nationally, and being in good standing with state medical boards.

Having said this, if you and your practice are in a region served by ZocDoc and meet its standards, you may well find it worthwhile to subscribe and get your profile up. These are ZocDoc-sourced numbers, but the service claims it improves appointment attendance by 7% and that 95% of ZocDoc patients are either commercially insured or self-pay. In other words, financially attractive patients.

Some Profile Basics

Because everything on ZocDoc is secondary to its “book an appointment” call-to-action (CTA), you’ll have less flexibility on a ZocDoc profile than on some pure review sites. You do have the basics and so some key best practices apply here as well:

  • Upload a headshot photo as your primary photo. ZocDoc does let you upload more photos, which people can open up into a slideshow by clicking on a link below your headshot that tells them how many photos you uploaded. Don’t make these other photos about you. You can upload photos of:
    • Glamour shots of examination rooms, equipment, and your waiting room.
    • Group shot of you with medical and support staff.
    • Exterior shot of building where your practice is.
  • Fill out all the fixed fields regarding your background, including education, hospital affiliations, languages spoken, board certifications, professional memberships, insurance accepted, specialties and treatments.
  • You do have space to include a freeform “Professional Statement,” so don’t waste that space repeating your basic information, which appears above it. Instead, use it to position yourself and your practice, and speak directly to your patient personas in language that connects with them. Give them a reason to book an appointment with you besides the fact that you’re in their area and have a convenient time slot available.

Profiles that Focus on Appointments

Alright, I foreshadowed there a little bit. From the search results page to your individual profile, ZocDoc emphasizes your location, how far away you are from where the prospect is, and what your earliest available appointment times are. Why? Because these are critical logistics when booking an appointment.

In fact, the default order of search results is based largely on earliest appointment availability. Prospects can switch this default to show profiles by those closest to them or those with the best wait time rating. Searchers can also filter results by whether early morning or evening appointments are available, or only for providers who have appointments available that day or next few days.

When a searcher clicks on a mini-profile in the search results to see the full profile, she may not get to the profile right away. Some medical specialties, like orthopedics, insert a filtering window before a searcher can see your full profile or book an appointment.

A pop-up form asks the searcher to identify the reason for the appointment from a dropdown. This dropdown is more detailed list of symptoms and conditions within the specialty, as well as more general terms like “follow up” or “second opinion.”

When you fill out your profile, you identify which items on this list you’ll see patients for and which you won’t. So when I selected “ankle problems” from the list while trying to see a certain orthopedist’s profile, I got the message that this doctor doesn’t see patients for ankle problems. I then tried “hand problems.” Still no good. Turns out, he focuses on “neck problems.”

This popup window is a bit annoying at first, especially since the only button you can click after selecting your reason is “book appointment.” That made me nervous. I didn’t want to book an appointment. I just wanted to see the doctor’s profile. But once you get it, the popup’s utility for everyone is clear.

So How Can You Differentiate Your Profile?

A nice range of photos and a compelling practice statement are good places to start. Of course, ZocDoc also prominently displays patient ratings and reviews.

Part of ZocDoc’s service is that it automatically follows-up with patients to encourage them to post reviews. It provides three separate star-rating categories: overall, bedside manner, and waiti time. (See, there’s that appointment-focus again). ZocDoc boasts that doctors average around 40 reviews after one year on their website.

You have no direct control over how your reviews and ratings display. The ZocDoc team moderates reviews before published to verify they’re authentic.

ZocDoc also has four badges you can earn, which appear right at the top of your reviews. You only have direct control over getting one of these badges, “Rapid Registration.” That’s the badge you get if you provide online forms for patients. You have to earn the other badges based on your patient reviews: “See You Again” for doctors with high rates of returning patients, “Speedy Response” for practices that quickly confirm appointments, and “Scheduling Hero,” for those doctors that stay on schedule. You see our theme here.

A Few Last Notes

Because ZocDoc is a subscription service, there are a few more things to keep in mind:

  • It has an in-house team who will counsel you how to create your best profile. It’s unclear if this is available as part of your subscription or if it’s a separate consulting service.
  • It has a mobile app where people can search for doctors and schedule appointments.
  • Your practice can have a separate profile that links back to your personal profile, and vice versa. The practice profile will show scheduling dates/times specific to all the doctors at the practice who are subscribers.
  • If you cancel your subscription, your profile stays on ZocDoc and can get returned in search results. However, there’ll be no appointment scheduling functionality attached to it, nor will any of your reviews or ratings appear.

Alright, so is ZocDoc for you? Are you already on it? If you are, let us know about your experience with it.

Garrett Smith

Garrett is the Founder, and Chief Marketer at InboundMD. Garrett has been successfully leading internet marketing campaigns for health care practices across the US for almost a decade. He's a frequent speaker at events, and author of "Book Now! Internet Marketing for Healthcare Practices", and the host of The Practice Marketing Podcast that details how successful practices are winning online.

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