Visiting a medical professional in the U.S. may be a sleek digitally assisted affair sooner than you may think: With efforts like ZocDoc’s to streamline digital appointment making, and new government funds for e-patient records, it seems likely.
ZocDoc’s system is a Web-based portal to booking a doctor or dentist, from general practitioners down to specialists, via a plain and simple clickable interface. All you need to do is select your requirement, tap in your zip code and make basic choices about medical insurance info, and the site tries to find you an appointment nearby and also to book it for you. It’s a time and effort saver that helps folks find same-day appointments fast, and lets doctors fill up the spare daily appointments.
ZocDoc has just closed a new funding round that’s netted it some $15 million in Series B venture capital, with new money coming from the Founders Fund and existing investors Khosla Ventures. The new cash, which brings its funded total to $19 million, will go to expanding the company’s infrastructure, add a fifth city to its repertoire, rope in more doctors and dental practices and optimize its services.
But with Obama’s push to deliver a more modern network-enabled medical system in the U.S., ZocDoc’s efforts are massively timely. The Administration’s even stepping up its efforts to digitize patient records, and now says it wants to see doctors and hospitals switch to a computerized system within five years. The benefits are well proven, so to give the change a bit of an assist, from next year the government is making available a fund to offset the cost of buying new computer systems–and will levy penalties in Medicare payouts to providers who fail to comply.
And, of course, other firms apart from ZocDoc are positioning themselves to make the most of this novel situation. There’s other news today that HP is poised to help hospitals and doctors make the switch, and that Verizon thinks a cloud solution is ideal for the task, and has crafted a service to store patient records off-site. Though these are essentially carefully timed PR pitches for HP’s EHReady system (a comprehensive digital records management suite) and Verizon Business’s “Health Information Exchange,” it reminds us that big business is really behind Obama’s decision, and this is probably the only way that the nation’s systems really stand a chance of modernization.
To keep up with this news, follow me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter.