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The United States is a rapidly diversifying nation. By the end of this century there may no longer be any ethnic majority in the United States. As doctor’s clientele continue to change, doctors may wonder, what will patients be looking for in their next doctor?

With millions of searches and appointment bookings through Zocdoc each month, we have access to insights that can help doctors tailor their advertising to bring in more patients. We wanted to know what languages patients are searching for when booking an appointment, where specific language searches are occurring most frequently, and whether there were any surprising language searches across different states. In other words, what are the most useful languages for doctors to speak?

Our analysis found that English searches still make up the vast majority of appointments, with Spanish as a distant second. Over 80% of Non-English appointment bookings in the United States made on Zocdoc are booked in five states: New York, Florida, Texas, New Jersey, and California.

We also found that compared to the national average, Florida had 3 times as many searches for Spanish speaking doctors, New York had 2.5 times the number of searches for Russian speaking doctors, and Illinois had 3 times the number of searches for Arabic speaking doctors.

English language searches are still the most prevalent searches in the U.S.

We started our investigation by looking at the prevalence of specific language searches when booking appointments with a doctor.

As the chart shows, the vast majority – 99.23% – of searches on the Zocdoc platform were for doctors who speak English. Spanish, the next most prevalent language, accounted for 0.73% of searches through Zocdoc. Russian, Arabic, and all other Non-English language searches combined accounted for approximately 0.03% of searches. However, with millions of searches, these small percentages can still add up to a calendar full of appointments with patients who are seeking doctors that speak a language other than English.

New York and Florida receive the most Non-English searches

Now that we know that English searches are still the most prevalent, we wanted to know in which states the most Non-English searches occur. Using the same data we looked at the proportion of Non-English searches that each state had of all Non-English searches in the United States.

New York, Florida, Texas, New Jersey, and California account for over 80% of all Non-English searches

Larger states with typically more diverse residents have the highest share of Non-English appointment bookings. New York accounted for 30.2% of all Non-English bookings in the United States, followed closely by Florida (20.1%). Delaware, Rhode Island, and Indiana constituted just 0.4% of all Non-English bookings.

The above chart is a bit disingenuous though, because states with larger populations can more easily take up the majority of Non-English searches. To account for this, we wanted to look at what states had the greater percentage of searches for a specific language compared to the national average. For the next few charts, the percentages represent the percent of searches a state received for a specific language compared to the national average. So if 10% of searches in one state were for Spanish, and the national average for Spanish speaking doctors was 5%, that state would have 200% the national average.

 

Florida has over 3 times as many searches for Spanish speaking doctors as other states

When we look at the percentage of searches for a specific language compared to the national average, we see the states with the most searches start to change. Florida moves to first place for Spanish searches with 328% more searches than the national rate, followed by New Jersey (159%) and Texas (151%).

Do these rankings hold for other languages? We decided to look at the number searches for Russian speaking doctors to see where doctors should be advertising if they speak Russian as a second language.

New York has 2.5 times as many searches for Russian speaking doctors as the national average

Patients seeking doctors who speak Russian are most likely to reside in New York, which had 248% the national average for Russian speaking doctors. New Jersey (178%) and Illinois (163%) both had over 1.5 times the national average for Russian searches.

It’s interesting that for both Spanish and Russian searches, New Jersey is in second place when it was in fourth places for overall Non-English searches in the United States. We wanted to see if this would hold up for another language, so we decided to look at the percent of Arabic searches that each state received compared to the national average.

Illinois has the highest rate of searches for Arabic speaking doctors

We found that Illinois (314%) and Virginia (310%) both received over 3 times the typical number of searches for Arabic speaking doctors. New York, though at the top of our list for the total number of Non-English speaking searches, takes third place for Arabic searches, while New Jersey doesn’t make the top three.

Patients across different states are disproportionately searching for doctors who speak different languages. Below you can see the percentage of searches for doctors who spoke a language other than English.

As a reminder, the percentages represent the percent of searches a state received for a specific language compared to the national average. So if 10% of searches in one state were for Spanish, and the national average for Spanish speaking doctors was 5%, that state would have 200% the national average. 

It’s important to note that states that are labeled as N/A* either did not have enough Non-English searches to meet our minimum data criteria, or didn’t have a specific unique language search for their state other than English.

What’s interesting about the table above is that New Jersey has 225% the rate of searches for Hindi speaking doctors as the national average. Even though New Jersey is fourth in the United States for the total number of Non-English searches, it appears to have far more searches for unique Non-English searches than New York, Florida, and Texas, the three states above it in the raw number of Non-English searches.

Another interesting finding is that New York has over three times as many searches for Turkish speaking doctors as the national average. Not as surprising given the number of Spanish searches in the United States is the number of states that have Spanish as their most popular Non-English language search.

The takeaway

The overwhelming majority of searches in the United States are for English speaking doctors. However, for doctors looking to expand their clientele, advertising a second language may help fill open appointment slots.

New York,  Florida, Texas, New Jersey, and California accounted for over 80% of the Non-English searches in the United States. However, we found that the language that patients were searching for varied by state. Compared to the national average, New Jersey had the highest number of searches for Hindi speaking doctors (328%), and came in second for patient seeking Spanish (159%) and Russian (178%) speaking doctors. Surprisingly, Illinois had 314% the national average in searches for Arabic speaking doctors.

As the United States continues to diversify, advertising your ability to speak a second language could help you fill open appointment slots and set you up for a future where the United States has no clear racial or ethnic majority.

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