It's no secret the U.S. healthcare system is a mess. The lack of transparency is likely why the system has bloated up to a $2.7 trillion industry, and finding the right doctor for yourself is no easy process.
Each year, over 70 million Americans look for a new doctor, and BetterDoctor, built by a team of Finns in San Francisco, is bringing order to doctor search. There is a clear need to bring in higher quality information for people looking for a new doctor: There's around one million doctors and 200,000 medical practices that take care of the 315M people who are insured by tens of insurance companies, which offer over 1,500 different insurance plans. It's not easy to match the right people up.
Currently consumers have to go through the following steps to find a new practitioner: You must first go to your insurance company's website to find which doctors are supported. Then you must google the doctors' names to read reviews and find what meets your needs. After that, you'll give the best looking doctors a call, and find out if they have any availability. Often the best doctors will be booked, meaning you have to start the process over again.
Betterdoctor then focuses on aligning the following points:
- Medical need
- Payment method (often insurance plan)
- Doctor quality
- Doctor availability.
And on top of that validating doctor quality through Yelp reviews, active medical licenses, and malpractice and discipline record screening. Each doctor on BetterDoctor has a profile, which is built through publicly available sources.
Currently they have information built on 20,000 Bay Area doctors, and Ari Tulla, the CEO and co-founder of BetterDoctor, tells us that they plan on hitting the entire U.S. by the end of the year.
BetterDoctor is also available as a mobile app, which I was curious about because searching for a doctor is a process that I imagine most people would sit down for. Tulla threw a lot of logic my way that may justify apps for many more startups out there.
To many people mobile/tablet is becoming the leisure time computing device that they use when at home. Laptop/desktop is seen more as a work device that people don't want to open at home. We can see this paradigm shift by looking at smartphone adoption rate, and by online marketplace (think Yelp, OpenTable, Trulia) statistics which show that the marketplaces are growing heavily on mobile while the web user growth is flat.
The mobile focus helps BetterDoctor to acquire new users. App Stores are still today far better acquisition channels than paid online advertising for example. Another big benefit is the fact that once your app is downloaded you are one app among 30-50 apps not one website among 300 million.
Market dynamics and user acquisition are nice reasons to focus on mobile, but those won't matter if there is no concrete value to the end-user. Based on out market studies the key value-points are following:
- I want to be able to find a doctor on the go (in the US where most people do just domestic travel)
- I need to make a phone call for the doctor anyhow, so why not to do the search on mobile where I can click to call
- location based search works on mobile, I see exactly whose close to me
- Booking/cancellation/calendar notification work well on mobile
- I can easily find an app on my phone
Right now BetterDocter is focused on getting up and running in the U.S., but will then also hit select European markets. It's too bad it takes a team of Finns in the Valley to bring order to the U.S. healthcare system, but it looks like BetterDoctor is hitting all of the right marks.