When I started my practice, I was hungry for business. Soon after I opened, I was contacted by ZocDoc to advertise on their service. I’ve never even heard of them before they reached out to me. Since I was hungry for business, I decided to give it a go. ZocDoc is a service that allows patients to book online with nearby doctor to fill appointments. In order to be listed for availability for patients to book with you, you have to pay a monthly fee.
In the beginning, their service did help me grow back when ZocDoc charged a flat $300 a month fee. I paid for the ability to get patients same day, and they did deliver on that for the most part when I joined them in 2018. Since then, their pricing model in many states has changed. Now in my state, doctors have to pay per new patient booking regardless if they show up or not. With that change in pricing, I left their advertising network. However, this past year I decided to add a new doctor to my practice. In an effort to grow their panel as quickly as possible, I decided to give ZocDoc another try to help fill in gaps in his schedule.
This post will go over my data with ZocDoc and my opinion of why I think I could have made more money driving for Uber or Lyft. If you are thinking of using ZocDoc, by all means consider my experience but keep in mind. All I’m presenting is my opinion based on my return on investment.
ZocDoc By The Numbers
All numbers below are pre overhead.
ZocDoc now has their billing set up where a practice has to pay $300 a year to be on ZocDoc. For any new patient bookings, ZocDoc charges the practice as low as $35 for each new patient. The fees I’m told go up to $100 for certain specialist (like plastic surgery).
I signed my practice up with only my new doctor available for bookings online. I left the schedule open for a total of 4 months on ZocDoc. On ZocDoc you can set a maximum limit of how much you want to spend per month. I set it at no more than 6 new bookings per month to try it out.
Number of patients seen = 9 (two people were seen twice during this time)
Number of no show appointments: 13 (Two people no showed twice to us after booking on ZocDoc)
Over a 4 month period I paid Fees: $300 annual membership + $630 in new patient booking fees
Income over 4 months for ZocDoc bookings: $723.69
Gross profit without accounting for yearly fee: $93.69
Gross profit after accounting for yearly fee prorated for the year: ($6.31). For those unfamiliar with accounting terms, the bracket is there to denote a negative number. We lost slightly more than $6 by seeing 7 ZocDoc Patients, two of which came back for quick follow up visits.
Each new patient visit is 30 minutes for simple visits. All of these visits were booked as simple visits. Accounting for now shows, that is almost 7 hours of time wasted for ZocDoc bookings where the patient ended up not showing up.
In the four months we were on ZocDoc, my new doctor essentially wasted an entire day waiting for these patients to show up. ZocDoc charges the practice regardless if the patient shows up or not. So, not only was my doctor wasting time, we paid ZocDoc $385 for my doctor to sit there for almost a whole day and wait for patients that would never show up. Now, to be fair if the patient cancels in the first 24 hours after booking, that fee is waived. That was not the case for us.
Cost Of Patient Acquisition
Total cost to advertise = $930
Total number of new patients = 8 (Wait but I put 9 patients showed up via ZocDoc up above…what gives? Read Below in the “Got Ya” for an explanation…)
Cost to acquire each new patient = $116.25
The Got Ya! Factor
We are a practice of 3 doctors. ZocDoc takes an interesting stance for practices with more than one doctor. You can list a practice of up to 5 doctors under one yearly fee. However, each doctor is considered their own practice when it comes to patient bookings.
For example, one of my patients saw me last year on ZocDoc but booked with my new doctor for a follow up visit. ZocDoc counted that as a new patient booking and still charged my practice $35. They charge a booking fee for each patient if they are new to you….not new to the practice.
So, if you are a large practice with multiple doctors and patients frequently bounce between doctors, you will get hit with lots of extra fees. I wish they would change this policy since insurance calls it a follow up. After all, I tried to argue with them that they allow doctors to be listed under the same practice so why not let the patients book as follow ups with any provider in that practice.
They said no, that they are currently doing new bookings by doctor, not practice.
Average Wages With Uber or Lyft
According to this article, the average Uber/Lyft driver makes about $377 a month. We averaged a net loss of $6.31 over the 4 months while we were with ZocDoc.
I could have had my doctor make more money driving for Uber rather than seeing the patients that we did. The liability would have also been much less!
So far, ZocDoc is the only one who has made money off us seeing their patients. We have lost money, not even accounting for clinic overhead and malpractice insurance overhead. It is a sad thought to think that my doctor would have made more money sitting at home doing nothing rather than seeing patients via the ZocDoc platform.
Limitations Of My Experiences With ZocDoc
To be fair, we only gave their platform a small period of time to pay off for us. We gave ZocDoc about 4 months in total to see what kind of payoff we would get. Most of the payoff from using ZocDoc comes from follow up visits, which we were not on there long enough to see that benefit.
The other limitation was that I am not willing to put their booking platform on my website. ZocDoc will waive the new booking fee if you put their booking system on your website.
We pay to bring patients to our website and are not going to pay to give them to ZocDoc and get charged a yearly fee for the privilege of them providing a booking system. Every EMR now has the ability to do online scheduling for free. This is a hard “no” for us.
The final limitation is that we limited our new bookings to less than 6 new bookings per month. This is because we did not want a huge run away bill for new bookings in the event that we had a lot of no shows. Thank goodness we did since our no show rate was over 50%.
In the end ZodDoc is the only one who profited from this deal and we actually lost money using them. In my opinion, the service has changed from one that was helpful to grow a practice to one that will hinder your growth long term. I personally would argue that you should put money on online advertisement rather than trying to get on ZocDoc and their platform.
ZocDoc is a registered trademark by ZocDoc and this article is my opinion based on my experience. Do your own research when you decide who to advertise with. I no longer have any relationship with ZocDoc.