I’ve been a practicing physician for 10 years. After moving back to my hometown, Milwaukee, last year, I joined my father as his partner at his medical practice, Waisbren Primary Care—a dream of mine since I was a child.
However, I didn’t bring along a single patient. So my goal has been to build my own base of people I care for. Today—a year later—I now have roughly 600 patients. Fifteen percent are female patients from my father’s practice who preferred to be treated by a female doctor. Others found me through word of mouth and QR code marketing I’ve done.
However, about 50% of my patients connected with me through an online booking system. I made the decision to use a platform called Zocdoc, which specializes in helping independent medical practices increase their outreach.
This platform not only lets local people find and book appointments with me directly online, but it also provides a telemedicine option, so I can meet with patients over the internet. Only return patients are allowed to book online appointments, given the amount of paperwork requiring signatures on the first visit. But among existing patients, about 5% to 10% of them choose telemedicine.
The majority of my patients are in their 20s, 30s and 40s, so it’s no surprise they prefer online booking. It’s convenient, user-friendly and available any time of day.
In most communities, when someone searches for a “doctor near me” on Google, physicians who are part of major health systems show up at the top of the results. A third-party booking platform like Zocdoc has the breadth and search engine optimization to ensure that private physicians like me show up, too. Moreover, people who have an urgent medical need can connect with me quickly. Many large medical systems don’t offer same-day—or even same-week—appointments.
The beauty of it all is how easy it is for patients to use. You go on Zocdoc, provide your ZIP code and select the next available doctor who can see you. On my end, Zocdoc is integrated with my office calendar, allowing the user to choose a time and book the appointment. I also include a banner for patients that says: “If you don’t see the appointment you want, please call and we will fit you in.”
Other benefits: New patients can upload their insurance card and driver’s license and fill out informational forms, reducing administrative work for our office manager and two receptionists. There’s mobile check-in for existing patients—another time- and cost-savings benefit. Additionally, patients receive appointment reminders by text and email, which means our receptionists aren’t making those calls.
People can leave reviews on my profile, helping bolster my reputation and draw in new patients. I currently have a five-star rating (out of five) from about 80 people who’ve reviewed me.
If there’s a downside to online booking, it’s cancellations. It’s easy to book, but it’s also easy to cancel. I pay Zocdoc $42 for each online booking whether the patient shows up or not—and about 25% don’t show. But my conversion rate with new patients is nearly 100%. So it’s a good investment overall.
While phone-based appointment booking is still a big part of our practice, online booking has been instrumental in attracting new patients and serving younger patients—who often prefer convenience and flexibility.
My father actually instituted an online booking system nine years ago, but he didn’t take advantage of all it had to offer. Today, he has a greater appreciation for how much patients today want convenience and choice. He will always rely on paper charts—and online booking will never be his go-to—but he now understands why it’s mine.Print this article