How Zocdoc Works: Business Model and Revenue Streams

Daffodil Software
6 min readJul 24, 2018


How much does it cost to build a healthcare marketplace like Zocdoc? What are the must have features and functionalities to build an app like Zocdoc? Which technology is best suited for developing an appointment booking app like Zocdoc?

Recognized for the expertise in building Zocdoc like online appointment booking apps such as Lybrate and iSikcure, We often come across aforesaid interrogations from our prospects.

Since Zocdoc is a leading name in the domain across the United States, a number of startups aim to improve healthcare system of their countries following a similar (and also tried-and-tested) care delivery approach.

Responding to this curiosity of our prospect customers and readers to know more about this billion-dollar healthcare marketplace, here we anatomize Zocdoc to figure out its selling points, business model, revenue streams, and technology behind the scenes.

ZocDoc: Success Timeline

Zocdoc is an online appointment booking portal that allow individuals to find doctor and book appointment, as early as in 24 hours. Founded in the year 2007, this digital health marketplace monthly facilitate 6 million users to book appointment with doctors in 2000+ cities across the United States.

Just like the turbulent journey of any other startup, Zocdoc too experienced rise and fall in the attempt to reach the apex of its success. Here is a glimpse of Zocdoc’s evolution over the years.

What Makes ZocDoc Sell?

1. To Patients

One of the consistent challenges in the U.S. healthcare system is the wait time for a patient-physician appointment. According to the Merritt Hawkins 2017 Survey of Physician Appointment Wait Times, the average wait time for a physician appointment is 24.1 days in the metro cities- a 30% increase from 18.5 days in 2014. The case is even worse in mid-sized metro cities where the average appointment booking time is 32 days- 32.8% higher than the average for metro cities.

Amongst the 15 metro and mid-sized metro cities that were surveyed, Boston and Yakima (Washington) were reported to have the highest patient-physician appointment wait time: 52.4 days and 48.8 days respectively.

Another study by Geisinger Health System shows that providers see greater no-show rates when patients wait longer. Thus, longer wait times to speciality appointments can lead to increased emergency department utilization.

2. To Providers

The U.S. healthcare system is dominated by the Fee-for-Service (FFS) payment model for physicians and care providers.

Under the FFS payment model, the providers and physicians are reimbursed by insurance companies and government agencies (third party payers), depending upon the number of services that they offer, the number of procedures that they have performed.”

Platforms like Zocdoc shifts the emphasis from Fee-for-Service model to Value-based-Care, which encourages the professionals to engage with patients, offer care that’s apposite for an individual, invest in technology, and incentivize providers for coordinated and effective care services.

ZocDoc responds to the critical pain point of patients and providers, by offering a platform that helps to reduce the patient-physician appointment booking wait time and also incentivize providers with value-based-care payment model. In short, Zocdoc creates a win-win for both patients and doctors.

Business Model: How ZocDoc Works?

Zocdoc operates a two-sided network that connects patients and doctors with one another. The company that has a valuation of over $2 billion took over nine years to build this digital health marketplace, sending teams to individual doctors’ offices across the country to sign them up for their booking tool. Today, ZocDoc is one of the leading platforms in the U.S. for patients to check near-term provider availability, keeping patient wait times lower than traditional booking methods.

With Zocdoc, patients can see doctors’ open appointment times and book them online, make informed choices with verified reviews, and stay on top of important check ups with custom reminders.

Zocdoc make doctors discoverable to patients. It reduces the number of no show-ups by filling last-minute openings in doctors’ calendar caused by cancellations and shifting schedules.

Economic Stability Model: How ZocDoc Generates Revenue?

Zocdoc is a patient-centric model. Thus, booking an appointment using this online doctor-patient connecting portal is free.

The primary source of revenue for ZocDoc is the subscription fee that doctors pay for Zocdoc’s services. Doctors pay an annual fee of $3000 for which Zocdoc connects them with patients looking for their services, increase efficiency of their practices, and fill their last-minute cancellations.

Another source of revenue for Zocdoc is the ‘Sponsored Results’ service that allow doctors to stand out and get discovered by patients who are willing to book an appointment for their practices. When doctors opt for Sponsored Results service, the ads are shown only to the patients who are eligible to book with a doctor’s practice. For the ad, doctors are charged on the basis of various factors like patient reviews and ratings on Zocdoc, practice size, marketing and advertising budget, and bid rate for specialty and market.

Zocdoc on Technology Front

Zocdoc uses technology and data science to connect patients with right doctors and reduce the wait time. The digital health marketplace work across different practice management software (PMS) systems, which allows them partner with large health systems and small practices in the U.S. and serve patients across all 50 states. A few technologies that adds an edge to this doctor-patient connecting portal includes:

  • Zocdoc’s proprietary sync technology connects them with provider calendars. It connects the portal across different PMS systems in real-time, and surface open appointments to patients, including newly available slots that come open due to reschedules, cancellations and no-shows.
  • The patient-powered search engine within the portal uses machine learning. It ensures that patients can use his or her own language, including colloquial terms, slang, and misspelled symptoms, to confidently find the right provider for their needs. This also helps them view open appointments, especially those within the next two calendar days.
  • The medical appointment booking app uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to decipher, understand, and verify patient’s insurance.
    According to a Zocdoc-Kelton Global Insurance survey, more than 50% of insured Americans say they have a difficult time figuring out what their insurance will cover, and 77% would like an easier way to ensure their doctor is in-network when booking appointments.”
    The AI model by Zocdoc recognizes the patterns of thousands of types of medical insurance cards and then match them with known carrier and plan information.

While these are some of the value adding functionalities and technologies in Zocdoc, they are certainly the reason why Zocdoc stand out in the market competition. Primarily, the platform operates through an online web portal and mobile app (for Android and iOS) that helps to discover doctors online through Zocdoc’s proprietary sync technology.

Takeaways from Zocdoc:

  • Understanding pain point of the masses is important. Zocdoc targets the challenges in the U.S. healthcare system and overcomes it innovatively through technology.
  • Keep all stakeholders in mind. While Zocdoc aims to reduce the wait times for patients, it also gives healthcare providers and physicians a reason to register them on the platform, with benefits like better visibility, easy reimbursements/payment etc. Maintaining the platform and features for all stakeholders in the system is imperative.
  • Building a network is difficult but possible with time. At an inception stage, Zocdoc adopted the offline registration model for providers. It took them a good 9 years to have a massive network of doctors and practitioners on their platform so that they can cater of a user base of 6 million per month, across 2000+ cities in the U.S.
  • Backing the idea an appropriate and updated technology matters. Zocdoc utilizes the best of technology like AI to offer most useful and creative feature set to both patients a d providers. Having a scalable team in-house or choosing a healthcare technology partner is a crucial step to build a successful tech-driven platform..

Planning to create the next Zocdoc? Setup a free consultation with our health-tech experts, who will guide you with right features, technology, revenue sources, development cost etc. to get started with your idea.

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