Noteworthy new restaurants, must-see music venues, emerging art museums: this was the to-do list I initially had planned when thinking about my move to New York.
Once reality set in, I also started planning for some of the more practical aspects of a cross-country move. I bookmarked listing after listing on StreetEasy’s apartment finder, dog-eared piles of Ikea catalogues, and even went so far as to map out my subway ride to work. I had prepared for as smooth of a transition as possible, but there was one key detail I overlooked—finding a doctor.
A patient of the same medical practice for the majority of my life, I found myself lost as to where to begin my search. I tried using the traditional channels, and asked my friends and family from New York for referrals. Although they were very helpful, I found that most of the recommended doctors were located in neighborhoods inconvenient to where I work and live. In a city with over 18,000 physicians, it seemed a bit ludicrous to travel 60 blocks for one. My search continued.
After exhausting my list of contacts and the conventional avenues for finding a new physician, I turned to the next most obvious place—the Internet. My preliminary Google searches led me to Zocdoc, a website for finding and booking doctor’s appointments. The interface was user friendly, with an option to search for appointments by time, specific procedure (eg. allergy shot), and even accepted insurance plans. The search results appeared in list and map form— much like a Yelp search. I found it simple to compare physicians using this tool, and while I did not ultimately make my appointment online, this search led me to the doctor’s office where I eventually booked a consultation over the phone.
I was initially apprehensive about looking for a physician the same way I’d look for Chelsea’s best tacos, but I soon came to realize that it should be this easy to find a doctor.
Personal referrals remain the most popular way to find a physician, according to a recent survey by Ambra Health, but even if a friend told me about a great restaurant or hair salon I would still read reviews online. It only makes sense to put as much time and research into finding a doctor as you’d put into finding a restaurant.
This attitude, and the accompanying shift towards relying on technology when making healthcare decisions, are representative of the larger trend of consumer-driven healthcare. The shift is spearheaded by millennials, 51% of whom conduct online research when making decisions about providers and treatment options.
Young people are accustomed to doing everything from buying a mattress to booking a handyman online so it only makes sense that they expect the same ease and transparency from their healthcare providers.
In order to meet these expectations and recruit new patients in the digital age, medical practices need to increase their online presence and offer healthcare consumers more tools for booking appointments and accessing medical records. The consumerization of healthcare is something that will continue to grow and drive innovation and accessibility in the healthcare industry, and I for one am excited for the day when it is just as easy to find a great dermatologist as it is to find great dumplings.