New online services are emerging to allow patients with non-life-threatening conditions to schedule doctor’s appointments and emergency room visits directly from their smartphones. Apps like ZocDoc and InQuicker are making the process of seeing the doctor easier than ever before.
Most of these programs operate like OpenTable works for restaurants. Users go to a website, provide their zip code, enter the type of care they need, and then see available appointment times. Patients are able to see the doctor within a couple days of their inquiry in most cases, even if they are new patients.
For ER visits, patients with appointments are usually seen within 15-20 minutes of their arrival. When the ER gets backed up, patients receive a text asking them to come back at a later time. ER Express, one of the many apps that offers features like this, books reservations for over 150 ERs in 30 states, serving 40,000 patients in 2014.
Doctors and treatment centers are using these platforms to attract new patients because the healthcare industry has become so competitive over the years. The healthcare providers pay an average of $200 to $300 a month to sign up for the booking engine, but patients don’t have to pay anything. This is marketing for the digital era, and it could soon change the way you see the doctor.