Zocdoc Business Model and Marketing Strategy

The world of modern business has three primary focus points: employee morale, profitability structure, and customer relationships. The ZocDoc business model includes these three points in unique ways. Customer relationships are formed by helping Americans book doctor appointments online. Profitability comes from their unique subscription features online and through mobile apps. Employees love ZocDoc because of unlimited vacation time and plenty of Diet Coke.

ZocDoc offers booking services, plus other extras like an online check-in so you don’t have to arrive at the doctor’s office 20 minutes early, in over 30 major urban areas in the United States. It covers nearly half of the US population. What makes the service so unique, however, is that it isn’t the patients who are paying high fees for this scheduling service.

It’s the doctors.

Medical Professionals Pay Up to $300 Per Month

ZocDoc has made it no secret that they intend to reinvent the world of healthcare in the United States. They are doing this by putting a focus on both doctors and patients. Instead of each group randomly trying to find each other, this startup has made it possible for doctors to be easily found by patients who need their care. It is working to the tune of more than 2.5 million unique visits every month.

The secret to success behind the ZocDoc business model is a particular focus on specific values. The patients always come first at this company, but they also focus on having great people. ZocDoc also encourages people to speak up, work hard, and have fun. The philosophy is pretty basic: to solve big problems, you need big ideas.

ZocDoc believes the best ideas come from the best workers. To change healthcare in the United States, forward thinking, combined with a level of self-described “humble ambition,” helps to fuel the business model to success. Having medical professionals paying up to $3,600 per year for their services helps out a lot too.

ZocDoc Focuses On Staying Lean and Mean

What gets many startups in trouble these days is overspending. Once a good idea becomes a great idea that the general public embraces, a startup tends to hit the mass market too quickly. With $95 million in funding already in the bank, it would be easy for ZocDoc to spend like crazy to be one of the top names in the tech industry today.

With over 400 employees, international offices, and the goal to keep pushing the boundaries of their office spaces, one might think that ZocDoc is spending more than they should. When you look at their actual budgetary habits, however, you’ll see that this company is still spending like it’s still in the early stages of development.

At ZocDoc, employees have to share hotel rooms when they travel. They’re using used furniture in their office spaces. Instead of purchasing or leasing new office space, they’re redesigning their current space to be more efficient.

Employees Love Working For ZocDoc

For US employers, employee retention has always been a primary goal. Many radical experiments have been tried over the years, from offering more medical benefits to retirement matching funds to free coffee in the break room. ZocDoc is taking those concepts to new levels and spending their hard-earned cash on the people who made this company the force in the healthcare industry it is today.

The first think you’ll notice when you walk into the NYC offices of ZocDoc is a wall of Diet Coke cans in a hallway. Recycling is of course an emphasis, but caffeine is one of the coveted products at ZocDoc. It drives everyone to work the longer hours that are necessary for success and soda is well stocked at the office. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of water and coffee too.

Yet on Fridays, ZocDoc also makes beer and wine available to their workers. How many businesses in America can say that? This company is looking to reflect a healthy lifestyle, but sometimes health is more about the reduction of stress than it is anything else.

ZocDoc also has a very liberal vacation policy. Instead of having a set timetable, ZocDoc offers unlimited vacation time. There is a clear expectation of all employees: to do their job and to do it well. Unlike other companies in the startup arena, however, time off is encouraged instead of discouraged. Most employees who do take a vacation still have it be less than 3 weeks off at a time.

That’s because community is also emphasized. At ZocDoc, the business model is designed to make everyone feel like they are part of a larger family unit. It’s hard to say that their ideas aren’t working.

What About the ZocDoc Scheduling System?

Patients can access ZocDoc free of charge. That’s what makes it so attractive to patients, but are doctors willing to pay up to $300 per month just to fill out open slots? The answer would be a resounding “yes,” considering the online service can work with office calendar software so that a doctor’s schedule can be made available.

There’s also the database of information about doctors, which adds even more value to the patient experience with this startup. Patients are able to search through the doctor’s range of services at each office location. They can take a look at their educational background and there is even a place for ZocDoc users to review their experiences with each doctor.

The reason behind this ease of use, ironically enough, comes from the need to have a doctor’s appointment when one couldn’t be had. One of the founders of ZocDoc, Cyrus Massoumi, had a sinus infection that ruptured his ear drum from the pressure of descending to the ground after a flight from Seattle to New York. His ears ringing, painful, and oozing, Massoumi couldn’t get in to see a doctor for more than 72 hours.

Will the ZocDoc Business Model Help Solve the Looming Crisis?

With healthcare options changing in the United States thanks to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, there is the chance that the country could experience a shortage of more than 100,000 doctors by the year 2025. Add in the changing population demographics during this same time period, as Baby Boomers reach retirement age and require more medical care, and it is obvious that medical care needs some help if it is going to survive into the future.

It may take nearly 20 days to see the doctor for most patients, yet over 40% of patients with an appointment will either not show up or cancel them at the last minute. These unpredictable schedules mean emergency rooms get flooded with routine care needs, urgent care offices become overwhelmed, and all the while the primary care doctor sits in their office with nothing to do but twiddle their thumbs.

ZocDoc helps to make scheduling easier by allowing patients to see real-time updates of a doctor’s schedule. If an opening comes up and they need to get in to be seen, then that cancellation can be filled with a need and everyone wins. That’s just the start of what this company sees healthcare being in the future.

They are also looking at the possibilities of digital doctor opportunities. Many needs that people have today, including routine check-ups, could be managed through remote consultations rather than an in-person visit. Imagine being able to schedule a 10 minute conversation with a doctor to resolve that sinus pressure problem and that’s what healthcare may look like by 2025.

What Can We Learn From the ZocDoc Business Model?

There are several themes that can be taken from the ZocDoc business model, but the most important one is this: people must always come first. There is supply and there is demand, but real business happens when these two components come together. That’s what this startup is doing by bring patients and doctors together.

At one point, ZocDoc would celebrate every doctor that they were able to sign to their service. Now this organization is celebrating their employees that made this happen. In looking at provider scores, which rate the effectiveness of services provided with other interaction components, such as customer service and cost, ZocDoc rates in the high 70s on a regular basis.

In comparison, Facebook hovers around 50 with their net promoter scores. The best healthcare providers would be happy to see a score of 20. The average healthcare insurance company? Their score is -5. As doctor after doctor and practice after practice signed up for this online scheduling service, the investors slowly began changing their tune as to what they though this startup would be able to achieve.

The ZocDoc business model provides proof that the concept works. ZocDoc might be working hard, but they’re also creating a fun work environment that maximizes the use of every dollar. That’s the one real lesson that can be taken from this startup.

Every dollar counts. Spend it wisely.

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