Zocdoc adapts telehealth with Twilio-powered telehealth video solution
Time to read: 3 minutes
Zocdoc is a healthcare marketplace with two key sets of customers: patients and providers. The marketplace allows patients to easily find and book appointments with in-network providers, highly rated ones, highly specialized ones, ones nearby, ones who can see them soon, ones who can see them virtually, or all of the above. It’s mutually beneficial too, because providers can easily reach the patients they want to serve, helping grow their practice and saving valuable time.
“Our core values push us to think from the patient's perspective. How can we deliver for them? Then, we like to work backwards to consider the experience from the provider's perspective. Our patients don't get great experiences without our incredible providers. That’s why we build solutions to satisfy both their needs.”
Zocdoc was giving power to the patient by bringing market forces to the healthcare industry, and making finding, comparing, and booking healthcare easy. But with the onset of the pandemic and stay-at-home orders, the need for a seamless virtual care experience quickly became clear.
Going from in-person to online in the blink of an eye
In March 2020, as offices across the world were vacated after the onset of the pandemic, Zocdoc viewed the situation as a call to action. Regardless of what the new normal would look like, patients still needed to safely get care. So the company decided to quickly change its roadmap to get ahead of the needs of patients and the system. To do so, Zocdoc built a fresh approach to their booking system that facilitated seamless telehealth appointments, in addition to the existing in-person booking capabilities.
Although the original system was designed with virtual appointments as an option, changes were needed to seamlessly enable Zocdoc’s nationwide network of participating providers to offer virtual appointments through its platform. As Zocdoc explored their options, they made an important choice that still helps them serve their customer base today.
Zocdoc chose Twilio
In considering vendors to help them power their new video appointment system, Zocdoc evaluated several options. As they carefully compared them, they found that most out-of-the-box solutions didn’t focus on the core offering they wanted to provide: a simple and seamless virtual video appointment system.
Simon Mosk-Aoyama, CTO of Zocdoc, remembered his work with Twilio in 2011 with a food delivery startup, where he implemented a phone-based order confirmation system using APIs. In addition to his earlier experience with Twilio, Simon knew that Zocdoc was already using Twilio to help deliver appointment reminders via SMS, and had been for nearly a decade. With the successful experiences piling up in Twilio’s favor, it made sense to see if using Twilio’s Video API would work here too.
They hypothesized that a Twilio integration would have the simplicity and flexibility needed to enable Zocdoc to develop its own telehealth video solution. It would also leave room to add features to serve the specific needs of Zocdoc customers.
Building a telehealth solution on the double
And it turns out their hypothesis was correct. In March 2020, a working demo was built in just a few days, complete with a rough patient and provider experience in both the app and on the web.
Then, in May 2020, Zocdoc launched Zocdoc Video Service, a free, HIPAA-compliant telehealth video solution that allows any provider, at no charge, to facilitate all of their virtual appointments — regardless of whether the appointments were booked on Zocdoc. This helped providers on Zocdoc keep their digital doors open for business and helped patients safely get the care they needed.
“In just a few days we were able to build a fully working demo complete with patient and provider experiences in both the app and on the web.”
The business impact of a video appointment system and telehealth solution
Before Zocdoc launched their video solution leveraging Twilio’s Video API, just 1% of the appointments booked through Zocdoc were for telehealth. After launching the video solution, over 30% of patients booked telehealth appointments to receive care in the early months of the pandemic. This has since leveled off: in May 2020, 33% of all appointments booked via Zocdoc were telehealth visits. By May 2022, that number had declined significantly, to just 17%.
Zocdoc facilitated practice growth for providers and helped patients easily and safely access the care they needed amid the pandemic. Video visits are now one component of the overall care experience, which includes a combination of virtual and in-person interactions with providers. Based on a survey completed in May 2022, patients have responded positively to this combination, with 77% of respondents indicating that they “agree” or “strongly agree” that they will utilize this combination of telehealth and in-person care in the future.
“We used Twilio because the integration would be simpler, we’d have far more flexibility in developing our own video solution. And I knew we would be able to augment the video with additional features that made Zocdoc stronger as a company.”