[Part I] ZooDoc: 3 Reasons Why They Succeeded
Posted January 23, 2013 By Sue J. Hur

Korea has GooDoc, and America's got ZocDoc.

ZocDoc is the ‘go-to app’ in the US that lets you book an appointment with the ‘right’ doctor.

Reason Number 1: There Is A Market ... With A Problem.

In the US, there is a 'health crisis' in that there is a problem with scheduling appointments. According to a survey by Merritt Hawkins, the average delay time to get to a doctor’s office in NY is 19 days, and in Boston, 49 days. The wait times have increased 8.6 days between 2004 and 2009.

ZooDoc simply solved this problem. It assuaged an incredibly overloaded system. The healthcare app hows schedule openings in real time, helps patients to review doctors, surfaces the best ones, and aggregates data about supply. Let’s not forget that doctors make more money too.

Reason Number 2: ZooDoc Fixed The Problem.

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, America’s short of 13,000 doctors, and this will only increase between 50,000~130,000 by 2025. This might be due to the Obamacare phenomenon but the ACA (Affordable Care Act) will only require 8,000 additional doctors in the next decade. Baby boomers are aging, doctors are retiring, and the population growth will fuel the other 90% of the doctor deficit. Depending on the field, 14~42% of patients do last-minute cancels, and at times, no-shows.

According to the Center for Disease control, and health affairs, the Center for Disease Control and Health Affairs, 8~27% of ER visits could be handled by a regular doctor appointments, for cheaper.  More than 50% of the ER visits were for non-emergencies, a Blue Cross Blue Shield study at Tennassee found. The result is a pained patient with a long waiting time faced with higher prices and at times, deaths in the waiting room.

Reason Number 3:  The Apps Were of High Quality.

Apps such as these empower consumer power with price and quality comparison information.

The founders of ZocDoc actually physically visited the doctors and discussed the benefits of signing up. Their job was to convince the (often conservative) doctors and dentists. Zocdoc took only a few doctors finally on board at first.

There were some difficulties, of course, as doctors had to be trained to use the device. There was also a lot of pressure, as it was mandatory that the the apps do not have any technical bugs whatsoever.

With patience, the user demand snowballed, and soon after, ZooDoc crammed 50 employees to the new office.

Emails were like ‘love letters’, apparently - the users send a lot of positive reviews.

"The Good Guys" - Founders of ZocDoc.

Other benefits?

ZocDoc actually prevents the crowding problem in emergency rooms (we've all turned up to the ER room with a headache, panicking - right?), because patients would be able to book the appointment easily, and this would eventually help them get treated fast.

To recap, there was a market with a problem, ZocDoc solved the problem, and provided high quality service. Through this process, Zocdoc managed to establish themselves as the good guy quickly without even having to try.

On January 2, ZocDoc received more than 2.5 million people visits and 130% bump in bookings. Annual physical tests booked on ZocDoc are up about 650% since 2010.

The No. 1 procedure booked yesterday was an annual physical exam. Other appointments yesterday that were popular among patients were for “skin, teeth, and eyes.”

Majority of the patients book appointments that take place within 24-72 hours.

More than a third of ZocDoc appointments are booked outside of traditional office hours.

Appointments booked via mobile are usually for illnesses/injuries treatment while web appointments skew toward prevention (such as booking the annual physical exam).

Consequently, it has raised $95 million in funding to date, with investments from players like DST Global, Goldman Sachs, Founders Fund, SV Angel, and Khosla Ventures.

GooDoc. The ‘go-to app’ in Korea that lets you book an appointment with the ‘right’ doctor. What about GooDoc? We have similar markets, problems and solutions in Korea as well. In Part II, we will investigate the differences and provide an analysis of the current Korean market.

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