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I need a doctor who lessens the pain (of bureaucracy). Stat.

By November 30, 2011current affairs, web-tech

A few weeks ago, my son broke his nose playing ultimate frisbee. It happened on a Sunday around Washington D.C., which is where he lives.  Because there wasn’t much pain he opted not to go to the Emergency Room, hoping instead to get an appointment to see a doctor on Monday morning. Ah, the optimism of youth!

He woke up early on Monday and started calling doctors who were in his insurance network (BCBS). He found an ENT doctor on a site called ZocDoc.  The site allowed him to search for doctors in his area who were covered under his insurance provider.  He ended up picking one named Erik Kass because he had the earliest available appointment (10:15 am that day).  Presumably to satisfy a HIPAA requirement, ZocDoc called his phone for verfication as part of the registration process.  

To his surprise, Dr. Kass called him 15 minutes later and asked if he could come in a little earlier, at 9 AM (to which he happily agreed). Dr. Kass then emailed him several forms to fill out before arriving for the appointment.  

When my son showed up for the appointent he found the doctor managing the whole office by himself.  The doctor quickly scanned the medical details into a computer and started checking his nose out, all within 10 minutes.  Dr. Kass suggested he go to another ENT for the procedure to set his nose.  By the time my son got home he had an email from Dr. Kass, with not only with that doctor’s contact information, but also several other referral options. He went to the first one recommended by Dr. Kass and his nose was fixed with minimal hassle. 

My son describes ZocDoc as “a totally hassle-free way of setting doctors appointments.” He adds that “the only reason went to Dr. Kass was because of his profile on ZocDoc, and the ease at which he could pick a time to meet with him.”  ZocDoc is limited to the major US cities at the moment but is expanding rapidly. ZocDoc also allows you to rate doctors, but only those that you have seen through the service.  

ZocDoc is only part of the equation. The doctor he went to was obviously someone who approaches his art with a keen sense of the patient’s perspective. If it’s possible to email patients forms before they arrive, and send them follow up information after they leave, then why not? For many doctors, using email isn’t what they were trained to do so they don’t make use of it when dealing with their patients. Even though they probably use it all the time to communicate with everyone else.

Next time I have to find a doctor I’ll go see if ZocDoc is up and running in my city. If so, then I’ll use it to try to find a doctor like Dr. Kass.

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One Comment

  • Matt Miller says:

    Speaking of doctors who use technology, My kids' pediatrician uses iPad2's in his practice. All charts accessible via iPad2 and via website. If condition requires a picture, they snap one with the iPad2's camera. If the patient needs a prescription, the doctor punches one in and sends it directly to your last-used pharmacy (which it remembers). This is so much easier, because it eliminates a trip to the pharmacy (drop off / pick up).

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