We tell just about anyone we come into contact about DocAsap. When we first tell people about the idea of “doctor appointments at your fingertips”, the reaction of the listener most often starts, “Wow! that’s a great idea! I would definitely use a service like that!” Then, as we get deeper into the conversation, the “yeah, but….” comments start to come out (e.g. “yeah, that’s a great idea, but patients won’t actually book appointments online!”). We love the objections, and want to respond below with data supporting the need for DocAsap.com.
Objection 1. Patients aren’t going to want to go and see just any doctor. They won’t switch doctors because they only want to see their own doctor!
In fact, a recent McKinsey study involving more that 2000 patients found that 2/3 of patients are willing to switch providers for improved scheduling and 77% would switch for more timely appointments.
Objection 2. Most patients already have strong relationships with their doctors and aren’t often looking for new doctors.
56 million Americans across all demographics of income, race, geography and insurance coverage do not even have a regular primary care physician relationship. Specialists relationship is even lower.
Objection 3. Patients here in the U.S. can’t just book an appointment to see a specialist, they need referrals.
First of all, patients with referrals will certainly be able to use DocAsap to book appointments. In addition, from a macro-perspective, HMO enrollment continues to decline , falling 5.8% to approximately 44 million from July 2007 to January 2008. At the same time, PPO enrollment grew 4.4% to 110 million, increasing the number of patients who can book directly with specialists, without a stringent referral requirement.
Objection 4. All doctors are overbooked and there aren’t going to be open slots available!
New and emerging practices and doctors are constantly looking for new patients. Even well-established doctors know that they need a certain fraction of total patients to be new patients in order to keep their practices thriving. In addition, surprisingly high cancellation rates reduce doctor utilization significantly. Anecdotally, in practices and clinics in the West Philadelphia area where we go to school, the cancellation/no-show rate is regularly up to 50% of appointments!
Objection 5. I can’t imagine patients booking doctor appointments on line, this is something that people only do over the phone.
Even without the benefit of statistics, we know that online appointment booking in general for major service sectors continues to grow rapidly. People manage a large percentage of their “offline” lives online, and we don’t see that trend reversing.
Let us know what you think! We appreciate more of your feedback on your service and we’d love to hear what you think of our responses. Also, let us know if you have any additional data supporting the need for online doctor appointment booking.