I have an arthritic foot that’ll surgery soon. So when my podiatrist dropped my insurance, I was hard-pressed to find a new one. I reluctantly began scouring review sites like Yelp and RateMDs to weed out the duds. I’ve switched doctors with dubious results before, so I wasn’t about to take chances.
My search led me to ZocDoc, an intuitive site that makes finding doctors and booking appointments a snap. Within minutes, I’d found three or so options—not too shabby for this fussy patient.
Based on patient reviews, I booked with a doctor who’ll remain anonymous. An email from ZocDoc happily confirmed the appointment was set. But the next day something told me to call the office.
My intuition was right: Everything I’d thought was going to happen actually wasn’t.
The office manager informed me I’d been scheduled to see another doctor entirely. If I wanted to see the doctor I’d booked, I’d have to switch times and location.
“He’s also not on your insurance,” she added, “but we can bill you for seeing a doctor who is.”
I wasn’t about to get sued for insurance fraud, much less take out a line of credit. So yesterday, I called up ZocDoc to give them a piece of my mind. Allison Braley, director of public relations, wasn’t pleased with it, but after speaking with her I’m convinced I’ll use the site again. Here’s why you might try it too:
It’s convenient. Sites like Yelp and RateMDs are great places to search, but you can’t book appointments on them. ZocDoc takes out the extra step, saving lots of time in the process.
The site’s user friendly. All it takes is entering a specialty, zip code and health insurance plan. You’ll instantly see the doc’s office location, available appointments that week and what insurance she takes. To read reviews and view credentials, simply click on the name.
Doctors are screened. According to Braley, the site independently verifies whether a doctor’s board memberships are real or not, and routinely updates his office address and what insurance he accepts. ZocDoc also “won’t let on doctors who have any ethical violations or pending lawsuits,” said Braley. “If you book something, we expect that to be real and accurate.” True to her word, the site booted off the shady doc within an hour of my complaint.
Customer service is key. Other sites take down your name and number when you book an appointment only to flood your inbox folder with spam. But ZocDoc sent a confirmation and text reminder, then had a representative call once I cancelled the appointment to find out exactly what happened.
Not only was the representative sympathetic to my story, he offered an Amazon gift card and to arrange another appointment with a better doctor. (I refused the card.) “When something does go wrong, we’ll reach out and say something went wrong,” said Braley. “We’ll offer an Amazon gift card for $10, $15 or $20, depending on the severity.”