How Zocdoc Search Works
Zocdoc is a technology company that offers a digital marketplace which connects patients and doctors. Each month, millions of patients search Zocdoc’s marketplace, free-of-charge, to discover a wide selection of healthcare providers that are relevant to the criteria they input. From there, patients can independently decide to select a provider based on their unique needs and schedule an appointment if they so desire.
Zocdoc is not a healthcare provider – we do not recommend or refer patients to an individual or particular provider. Rather, our marketplace product is patient-initiated and patient-directed. It is designed to empower patients to independently make their own healthcare decisions – including determining which providers best fit their needs and whether or not they choose to book an appointment.
Healthcare providers pay to be included in Zocdoc’s marketplace. Across the country, tens of thousands of independent practices and more than 60 leading hospitals and health systems participate in Zocdoc’s marketplace, which enables them to serve patients seeking care.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Visit reason: Doctors are only shown in search results if they offer appointments for the patient’s given need. For instance, if the patient searches for the visit reason “heartburn”, they will only see doctors that have indicated to us they are qualified to treat patients for heartburn. When patients search for a specialty, e.g. “cardiologist”, the search results default to the visit reason most often booked with such specialty, which the patient can then adjust.
- Insurance network: Each doctor provides us with a list of insurance plans they participate in; if a patient chooses to provide their insurance information when they search, we prioritize displaying doctors that have told us they participate in the patient’s insurance. Moreover, doctors are obligated to provide us with accurate and up to date insurance participation information.
- Location: When we show doctors in search results, we take into account the location of the patient and the doctor. In general, we know that patients prefer to see doctors who are closer to their location, but specific results may vary based on availability of nearby doctors, density of the area (urban vs. suburban), and other patient-centric criteria. The patient can use a map to narrow or broaden search results, and can choose a doctor in any location they desire.
- Appointment availability: We prioritize doctors with openings to see patients seeking care. We know from our research that patients prefer to see a doctor sooner rather than later – the typical patient on Zocdoc books an appointment within 24 hours from the time of the search – though there may be other criteria that prevail, like distance or a particular specialty.
We have dedicated account management teams that help doctors keep this information up-to-date, as we know it changes frequently.
More than 6 million patients visit Zocdoc each month, and we are always optimizing these factors to improve the relevance of search results for each patient. We use feedback from millions of data points on user behavior (actions taken on the site – clicks, bookings, etc.), and from groups of patients who have used the same searches, to better understand the tradeoff between factors like distance and availability. For instance, if a patient searches for a dentist for toothache on weekend night, this may be a dental emergency for which that patient will prefer a near-term appointment, whereas if a patient were to search for a primary care physician for an annual checkup, finding a long-term doctor located close to home may be a top priority, versus other factors like availability.