BetterDoctor has raised $2.6 million in funding to do exactly what you might expect: Help you find a better doctor.
On BetterDoctor, which functions like an “Opentable for doctors,” you can search for a health care expert in a range of specialties. Its database features one million doctors and other care providers, located in various cities around the country.
Most of these doctors have never 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 and location information. Many of these doctors will only hear about BetterDoctor, after they experience a spike in patient requests and foot traffic.
“There are some doctors who have 10,000 views on their BetterDoctor profile,” said BetterDoctor chief executive Ari Tulli. These doctors will often choose to activate their profile, so they can build a more engaged presence on the site.
The company is the brainchild of Tulla, 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 in a recent interview.
The experience is designed to be intuitive, and highly data-driven. Request a “sleep medicine” doctor, for instance, and a page will pop up requesting information about your insurance provider. You’ll then receive a short-list of doctors, who will accept your insurance, and their full contact information.
Tulla claims that 4 million people have used BetterDoctor to locate a nearby doctor. Patients can use the service on the web and on mobile –in September, BetterDoctor released a free app for the iPhone.
It’s still early days for BetterDoctor, and I noticed a few limitations with the service.
For more obscure specialties, BetterDoctor might not provide much help. When I performed a search for a sleep doctor, I received a suggestion to visit a physician based in Texas — I’m currently at a conference in San Diego, California. This will likely improve, if BetterDoctor can convince more physicians to active their profiles, and provide more in-depth information about the insurance they accept.
Another potential challenge is that BetterDoctor is pulling data about doctors from a variety of sources. Forbes published a report on Patient Fusion, the consumer-facing health portal run by Practice Fusion, which claims that doctors feel they were not properly communicated with. Tulla says he’s following this story with “great interest” as “it might help us all define boundaries on how doctor feedback and rating is collected and published.”
Aside from PatientFusion, BetterDoctor also competes with well-funded consumer health services like New York-based ZocDoc, which make it easy to browse reviews and book appointments online. BetterDoctor just provides contact information, so you’ll still need to make a phone call to the physician’s office.
BetterDoctor’s key competitive advantage is its verification service that took 18 months to build. Doctors with negative ratings, and those who are fighting malpractice lawsuits, are not listed on the site. The best doctors are a bit easier to find, as BetterDoctor clearly displays education, experience and more.
The round, which will be used to expand the team, included Silicon Valley investors SoftTechVC and 500 Startups, as well as healthcare investment firm Burrill & Co.