No more clipboards: ZocDoc lets patients check in online

Since launching in 2007, ZocDoc has been laser-focused on bringing its appointment booking engine to doctors and patients in cities across the country. But with the Thursday rollout of its new patient Check-in product, the New York-based company is not only moving into new territory for the first time, it’s starting to show the full potential of its platform.

Starting Thursday, on top of searching for nearby doctors and booking appointments online, users of the site will be able to use ZocDoc Check-In to fill out medical forms on the Web. The product, which the company said was the most-requested feature by patients, is free for patients and is no extra charge for doctors already paying to be listed on ZocDoc.

Check-In not only stands to save time for patients planning an immediate visit (it means no more arriving early to scribble your medical history on a clipboard full of forms), it extends that convenience to future appointments booked on ZocDoc. The platform securely saves the information and will pre-fill forms when a patient schedules appointments with other ZocDoc doctors. If that doctor needs new information, the patient can add it to her profile and check in again. At launch, the product will be available to 10 percent of users on the site and expand over the coming weeks.

Despite past resistance to digital records, patient response seems positive

Digital health records have become an increasingly big topic, as the government pushes medical providers to be able to exchange patient information electronically. But, as surveys and history indicate, patients have been hesitant to share their medical information online.

Dr. Oliver Kharraz, ZocDoc co-founder and COO, said that while patients have been reluctant to submit information on insurance websites, Google Health (which is now shut down) and other platforms, early testing with Check-In has been positive.

“For us to be a trusted partner in maintaining this information is very important to us,” said Dr. Kharraz. “This has been a tremendous success with the patients we’ve offered this to because of the experience they have with us and the general orientation of the company in putting consumers first.”

That orientation is clear in the sheer efficiency of booking on the site, as well as in the company’s policy of sending Amazon gift cards to patients who have a doctor cancel on them. And, as the company moves into the more sensitive area of patient information, that goodwill will serve them well.

ZocDoc as a ‘GPS for health’

In the five years since Kharraz and CEO Cyrus Massoumi launched ZocDoc, other startups, such as HealthTap and BetterDoctor have also started to provide services that help patients discover doctors and schedule appointments with them (among other services). But ZocDoc’s platform is tightly integrated with doctors’ scheduling systems and is very expansive, reaching 1.8 million people a month and available to book appointments with healthcare providers in 31 major metropolitan areas.

For ZocDoc, which has raised $95 million and has been valued at $700 million, the new Check-In feature points to a future in which the platform becomes a central hub for all kinds of patient information and interaction.

“We just want to help you navigate health – to use ZocDoc and the information stored there as a GPS for your health,” said Dr. Kharraz.