If you’re feeling achy and unwell, the last thing you need is the headache of tracking down a nearby doctor that can see you in short order.
A startup called BetterDoctor has already won over tens of thousands of people with the simple elevator pitch: “We’ll help you find the right doctor.”
The company is the brainchild of Ari Tulli, formerly the head of Nokia’s App Studios, who teamed up with Nokia’s Chief Architect Tapio Tolvanen to fix some of the gaping holes in our healthcare system. “On average it takes a patient 20 days to get to see a doctor,” Tulla told me.
On BetterDoctor, perform a simple web search, and you’ll be able to access profiles of doctors with offices in your neighborhood. They are listed by speciality, such as primary care or obstetrics. If you’re regular physician can’t see you immediately, the site will point you to alternatives and provide their contact info.
What’s interesting about this startup is that it’s a tool not only to find an available doctor, but to find the best doctor.
The company has spent 18 months building a verification service and has deliberately excluded doctors with negative ratings and those who are fighting malpractice lawsuits. Physicians listed on the site have been included based on their experience, education, and more.
In the future, Tulla told me, they’ll incorporate machine learning (think ‘Pandora for healthcare’), so they’ll be able to recommend a doctor based on your gender, location, insurance type, prior physician, and pre-existing conditions. Also in the product roadmap is a scheduling service for users to book an appointment online. This will put the company in a stronger position to compete with up-and-coming healthcare startup, ZocDoc.
The product has been beta-tested in San Francisco for several months, and after several revisions, it is launching nationwide today. It has already signed up hundreds of doctors in the Bay Area, and is adding more each day.
On the site, you’ll find 600,000 doctors’ profiles. The majority of these doctors will not have registered with the service or even heard of BetterDoctor. The startup’s team of programmers have scraped Yelp, hospital listings, private practice sites, and the like to create custom profiles for doctors with reviews, location information, and more.
Tulla told me it’s a great marketing tool for doctors, who don’t have to lift a finger to get free publicity. In the Bay Area, many will have noticed a recent, mysterious spike in patient bookings before doing their homework and finding BetterDoctor. “There are some doctors who have 10,000 views on their BetterDoctor profile,” Tulla told me.
For now, doctors can join the site on an invitation-only basis, but they can request to “claim their profile,” meaning that they can fill it out with custom, additional information. The founders plan to make money by asking these doctors for a cut when a BetterDoctor user — a new patient — walks into their practice.
BetterDoctor’s web app is already live, and the iPhone app is currently under production and will be released in the coming months. The company launched its private beta at Founders Den, a shared office and private club for San Francisco-based entrepreneurs.