Which Doctors Actually Use Zocdoc?

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Posted on May 13, 2019

Nowadays, our phones are the device we use for everything, from paying for food to taking photos. Booking doctors appointments is no exception. Zocdoc is an app and website that allows patients to schedule appointments with any doctor from the app alone. Why is this app so attractive to the consumers? Convenience. Patients can now quickly see which doctors are available and avoid the need to call doctors offices within working hours. They can also conveniently see the reviews of each doctor from other patients, and are able to review and rate doctors after they have an appointment with them.

How does this model work from the doctors' side? Doctors need to pay a subscription fee to have a profile on Zocdoc. Thus, doctors will self-select whether or not they want to be on Zocdoc or not. Is this self-selection random or is there a very particular sample pool of doctors that want to be on Zocdoc?

To address this question, I did web-scrapping using Scrapy on the Zocdoc website on the profiles of doctors in the NYC area. I got a total of 5,666 doctors with information like doctor name, gender, specialty, average rating, etc. 

What does the distribution of rating look like for doctors and why?

We can see below the distribution of rating for doctors, which has an average of 4.76 out of 5. This distribution is heavily skewed to the left. 

This supports the case of self-selecting doctors, as it is likely that since doctors can chose whether or not to have a profile, the doctors with not high rating will simply not pay for a Zocdoc profile. So we can already see a particular sample of doctors being selected out. 

Which specialties have the lowest average ratings?

We can then look at the lowest rated doctors by specialty.

We can see that the lowest ranked specialties are those that deal with chronic progressive illnesses or are high risk practices. For example, hormone therapy deals with a chronic disorder with no cure, often resulting with patients not getting significantly better but simply dealing with irritating medication. Also, bariatric doctors surgically remove the parts of the stomach to lower food consumption. Most patients take an extremely long time to adjust to the change. Frequently, the operation results in a lot of vomiting and irritable bowel movement. Aside from the rating, we can look at the number of these doctors in these specialties that even have a Zocdoc profile. 

We can see that out of the 5,600 doctors available, there are not very many doctors with these specialties on Zocdoc. This is likely because of the fact that Zocdoc is not beneficial to these doctors. The ratings and review model does not help their practice, and therefore it is not worth it for them to pay for a Zocdoc subscription.

Which specialties have the most number of Zocdoc “awards”?

Zocdoc also give awards to doctors who have high rating in particular categories. The awards are for Rapid Registration, Speedy Response, “See You Again” (Return patients), and Scheduling Hero. 

We can see clearly that the doctors that most rewards go to dentists, primary care doctors, dermatologists, and optometrists in pretty much all the categories. These are all doctors with very similar styles of appointments, in which patients generally come in for check-ups and do not require additional follow-ups. These are low risk practices in which the doctors will not have to deal with too many incurable diseases and can focus more on the overall service to the patients.

Conclusions: 

Ratings for doctors on Zocdoc are heavily skewed to the right because of the model of Zocdoc itself. Specialties that have the lowest rating are the ones that have deal with intensive procedures and illnesses that currently have no cure. There are also very few doctors in these particular fields with profiles on Zocdoc. Specifically, Zocdoc is good for the specialties that focus on the occasional “check-up”, not for more risky practices like surgeries.

Patients should note that Zocdoc is skewed to have only doctors with high rating on the website and therefore, will inform the user who are high rated doctors, but will not provide comparisons to low rating doctors. The sample pool of those on Zocdoc is specific.

 

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