Whenever we go to a medical check-up, we put our lives in the hands of our doctors and surgeons. When a doctor makes a wrong diagnosis and a mishap occurs, we brush it off as bad luck.
But is it just bad luck, or did we pick the wrong doctor?
We speak to Cole Sirucek, CEO and Co-founder of DocDoc. He shares how the start-up disrupts the healthcare industry by matching the right doctor to patients for their unique medical needs.
Does pricing always measure quality?
While pricing might be one of the few yardsticks used to measure expertise, even that can be misleading.
Sirucek encountered this problem when he was finding a surgeon for his daughter’s liver condition.
Shockingly, he was quoted 60% more by a team which had far less expertise compared to a renowned team from Japan who were the inventors of the live liver transplant procedure.
This made him realise how inaccurate pricing can be in measuring quality.
How DocDoc Works
DocDoc measures the quality of healthcare which reflects a doctor’s strengths and weaknesses.
They collect and verify a comprehensive track record of the physician including the number of times each procedure is performed by a physician each year, legal actions against a physician, credentials for a given procedure, and pricing, turning them into intermediate markers.
Then, this data is put into a knowledge model that allows their AI, HOPE™ (Heuristic for outcome, price, and experience) to make meaningful comparison at the procedure or condition level.
For example: if a doctor’s experience with surgery X is few to none, DocDoc would not recommend them to patients who need such surgery.
Finally, each patient receives a customised panel of doctors based on their preferences.
So, how does DocDoc disrupt the healthcare industry?
1. It makes transparency the foundation of healthcare.
According to Sirucek, transparency is an important quality to major insurance companies.
Information on doctors is verified by legal bodies and government agencies before it becomes an intermediate marker.
The result? Patients make informed healthcare decisions, and doctors become better-known for their expertise.
What’s more, the insurance firms are able to keep their policyholders happy; and happy policyholders, in turn, maintain memberships.
It’s a win-win situation!
2. It gauges a doctor’s skill by looking at data.
According to Sirucek, traditional healthcare is about trusting what the doctor says.
However, not all doctors are created equal.
Doctors, just like the rest of us, can have vastly different levels of experience and expertise.
How do you know if your doctor is really focused on treating your type of condition or performs your procedure?
On the other hand, DocDoc lets data do the talking and uses surgical records and publications, along with hundreds of other data points, to recommend doctors for every patient’s unique medical needs.
Now, let’s move on to 3 misconceptions Sirucek recommends patients take note of when finding a doctor.
1. “There’s not a big difference between doctors in terms of quality.”
After all, aren’t doctors supposed to be jacks of all trades? Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
If you need shoulder surgery, for instance, not every doctor is equally capable of performing it.
You should consult doctors who focus on this procedure as a core area of their practice and that have impeccable qualification and training.
2. “Patients could never understand what their doctor says because a doctor is just too complicated.”
Indeed, it may be tough to get the gist of heart surgery with all its medical jargon, but that’s what intermediate markers are for—they break down complicated concepts into easy-to-understand terms.
For example, the intermediate marker “average patient satisfaction score” could be a most relevant marker to understand the likely experience you will have with a given doctor.”
This helps patients make decisions for themselves regarding difficult concepts in an accessible manner.
3. “Price and outcome [of healthcare] are related.”
Many people equate expensive healthcare with better healthcare, but that’s not always true.
Expensive hospitals are not necessarily better than government hospitals; what matters is the level of experience.
Apart from using price to measure quality of healthcare, some people measure quality with their experience with the doctor.
Just because a doctor is courteous and friendly doesn’t mean they are qualified for the job!
Despite their disposition, they might make a wrong diagnosis and jeopardise a patient’s health.
Instead, Sirucek recommends using price, outcome, and experience to measure quality.
Price is what a doctor charges relative to peers, outcome is the expected efficacy of treating a condition or procedure, and experience is how the doctor makes you feel.
So, remember: look forward to finding the best doctor for your needs!