ZocDoc, a service that helps patients receive faster access to care and optimizes doctors’ schedules, has published the results of its first annual Digital Doctor Survey. This survey will keep a pulse on how physicians engage with various technologies year over year. The 2013 survey explored the use of online reviews, practice management technology, and social media among a sample of ZocDoc’s network of healthcare providers which included primary care doctors, dentists, obstetricians and gynecologists, dermatologists, podiatrists, dietitians, cardiologists, and more.
Research suggests that online reviews may significantly affect patients’ decisions when choosing their healthcare providers, and ZocDoc’s survey results show that the physicians are keenly aware of this. Eighty-five percent of respondents proactively monitor online reviews about themselves, and 36 percent look at their competitors’ reviews. Additionally, ZocDoc asked physicians to rank the fairness of online reviews on a scale of 1-10 and found the following:
23 percent said they’re very fair (rating of 8-10)
62 percent said they’re fair (rating of 4-7)
15 percent said they’re not fair (rating of 1-3)
“Patients are eager to access the healthcare system in the same way they engage with their favorite consumer brands, research hotels, or even book restaurants and flights, and it’s important for any physician practicing in today’s day and age to embrace this shift,” said Dr. Keri Peterson, an internal medicine specialist and a ZocDoc client of three years. “As people continue to depend on these reviews to make informed healthcare choices, it will become increasingly important for patients and doctors alike to know which systems close the loop and verify all of these reviews to ensure that they are trustworthy.”
Practice Management Technology
New healthcare guidelines make it increasingly important for physicians to leverage technology to keep their practices connected. ZocDoc found that almost 75 percent of physicians surveyed have implemented a practice management system in their office. This is significantly higher than the findings of the US Department of Health and Human Services, which recently reported that roughly half of US physicians have implemented a practice management system.
“ZocDoc clients tend to quickly adapt to the changing healthcare landscape in this digital world, which likely accounts for the disparity,” said ZocDoc Founder & COO Oliver Kharraz, MD. “These healthcare providers are more aware of how they can utilize ZocDoc and other digital resources to improve their practices. Not only can technology improve office efficiency and enhance online reputations, but most importantly, they can improve patients’ access and care.”
Social media platforms are another tool which some physicians are choosing to employ to enhance their digital footprint. Some reports suggest that nearly one-third of patients use social media sites for health-related matters, and that number is growing. This represents a sizable opportunity for physicians to not only promote their practices and connect with patients, but also stay in touch with each other and share educational information.
ZocDoc found that 53 percent of physicians surveyed have a Facebook account for their practice, 34 percent are using Google+, 28 percent are using LinkedIn, and 21 percent are using Twitter. Not surprisingly, overall social media usage is 22 percent higher among physicians between the ages of 26 and 55 than among physicians between 56 and 75 years of age. Thirty percent of practitioners report that they still do not have any social media presence.