The political debate over healthcare is a national issue, however the individual relationships that people have with their doctors are intrinsically local. Patients benefit from having personal relationships with physicians who understand the unique socioeconomic pressures facing their local areas, and these relationships are only going to become more important as newly insured Americans search for primary care providers in their own neighborhoods.
Hyperlocal vendors are changing the way consumers navigate the healthcare industry, offering tools for finding local providers who are covered by specific insurance plans. Not only do these platforms benefit patients by providing a streamlined way to secure appointments with qualified local physicians, but they also benefit healthcare professionals by filling empty appointment slots and decreasing the percentage of no-show patients. Here are five hyperlocal platforms that consumers can use to find and purchase local healthcare services.
1. ZocDoc: Get real-time availability information from local physicians.
Since its debut in 2007, ZocDoc has grown to become the proverbial 800-lb. gorilla of the hyperlocal healthcare industry. Patients in more than 1,800 cities can find doctors and make appointments online, browsing by location, specialty, and insurance coverage. ZocDoc provides users with real-time physician availability information, allowing them to book appointments with an average of 24 to 72 hours notice. The company’s mobile app even uses geo-location to automatically pinpoint available doctors within close proximity to a user.
2. Patient Fusion: Book appointments with local healthcare providers.
An offshoot of Practice Fusion, an electronic health records tool used by more than 150,000 physicians, Patient Fusion launched in 2013 as a way for patients to search for healthcare providers by location or specialty. Users can read reviews from “verified” patients who have booked past appointments through Patient Fusion. Patients can see which time slots a provider has available and request appointments entirely through the booking portal. Patient Fusion separates itself from competitors through its ties to Practice Fusion; users get online access to their personal health records, without having to switch between platforms to do so.
3. Medicast: Find a doctor who makes house calls.
Medicast is a “doctors on demand” tool that people can use to find physicians who can provide care at their homes, offices, or hotel rooms. Medicast matches users up with physicians who are generally available to come by in two hours or less. After running a search, patients receive a call from a nearby physician and make arrangements for his or her immediate visit. Once the physician arrives, the patient’s credit card is automatically charged for the service. Medicast does not currently accept any domestic insurance plans. Instead, patients can opt to pay-as-they-go for $199 per visit, or set up a monthly membership for $29 to $49 per month.
4. DocASAP: Secure an appointment with a doctor today.
DocASAP says it can decrease the time that consumers spend waiting for appointments to see their physicians. Rather than calling to make an appointment, and waiting on hold for an average of seven to 10 minutes, DocASAP users in New York, Philadelphia, and New Jersey are able to schedule appointments with providers in a number of medical specialties in seconds using the company’s online portal. Patients who aren’t sure which provider to book can utilize DocASAP’s review platform, which includes rating from verified patients. DocASAP takes insurance carriers and plans into account when recommending physicians. DocASAP is free for patients.
5. HealthLeap: Connect to a healthcare provider’s practice management system.
Acquired by Vitals, the doctor reviews and rating platform, in 2011, HealthLeap is an appointment booking tool that people can use to find available physicians in their local areas. Appointments are made in real-time using data from physicians’ existing practice management systems. HealthLeap also takes health insurance into account, narrowing down the options for users based on which providers are covered by their policies. Once a patient has booked an appointment, HealthLeap sends an automated notification to the practice. HealthLeap is free for patients.
Stephanie Miles is an associate editor at Street Fight.