Bridging the Healthcare Gap

Bridging the Healthcare Gap

As a parent and a doctor, I have plenty of experience with our fragmented and confusing healthcare system. I have seen firsthand the challenges faced by patients who navigate it. From the first sign of illness to the last medical bill, our healthcare system throws far too many obstacles at patients and the families who care for them--and no one faces greater obstacles than families with special needs. 

Even if you are used to problem-solving around your family’s concerns, serious questions pervade the search for great care. Does your new doctor have experience with special needs kids? Will she know how to make your child feel comfortable? Does his office feel warm and accommodating? How long will it take to get an appointment? These are crucial questions. Why aren’t they easier to answer?

I know that I am painting a bleak picture, but there is good news: the landscape is beginning to change. New tools are empowering families like yours to navigate the healthcare system like never before. My company, ZocDoc, is a prime example of this progress.

ZocDoc lets patients find doctors and dentists online, and book appointments instantly. Just search for a nearby doctor in your insurance network with our smartphone app or on www.ZocDoc.com. You can see any doctor’s schedule in real-time, and book your own appointment on the spot. As we have rapidly expanded, special needs families have taken an exceptional interest in ZocDoc--and for reasons which may surprise you. 

First and foremost is the service’s speed and convenience. The average American waits nearly three weeks to see a doctor. No one should have to wait that long for healthcare, but many children with special needs simply cannot wait that long. Fortunately, patients who book through ZocDoc can almost always get same-day or next-day appointments.

ZocDoc also brings newfound privacy to appointment-scheduling. Many of us have had to duck out of work onto a busy city street just to book medical appointments for ourselves or our kids. With ZocDoc, you can make the same appointments right from your computer without announcing private health concerns to your entire office!

Do you take care of an adult with special needs? ZocDoc might be helpful for that person, as well. Our service has been praised by patients who would like to book their own appointments but have difficulty using phones; this includes patients who are hearing impaired, people with social anxiety, and many others.

Most importantly, ZocDoc makes it easy for families like yours to choose the right doctor. Selecting a healthcare provider shouldn’t be a crapshoot; that’s why we answer your questions before you ever set foot in the office. Does a pediatrician have expertise in your child’s need area? ZocDoc shows you his or her publication history and professional affiliations so you can find out. Do you want a better sense of a doctor’s personality? Read the professional statement on his or her ZocDoc profile. We even feature photographs of the office, so you can see whether it’s a warm, accessible place in which you would feel comfortable with your child.

Building an affordable, top-quality healthcare system for our country will be no small task. But at ZocDoc, it is our top priority, and we believe that we are making progress. When families with special needs are happy and healthy, we will know that we have succeeded--because it is these families who will benefit most from a true patient empowerment movement.

All doctors who are available on ZocDoc are independently qualified by the ZocDoc team. ZocDoc is available in 15 major metropolitan areas, including Los Angeles, Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Miami-Palm Beach, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC. For more information, visit www.zocdoc.com.

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Written by: Oliver Kharraz, MD See other articles by Oliver Kharraz, MD
About the Author:

Oliver Kharraz, MD, is the co-founder and Chief Medical Officer of ZocDoc, a new, free service for Los Angeles, San Gabriel Valley and San Fernando Valley residents. ZocDoc allows patients to find nearby doctors who accept their insurance and instantly book an appointment online or via the free App. Kharraz lives with his wife and twin 2-year-old daughters in Brooklyn, NY.

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