Sramana Mitra: How would you tackle the issue in any given community? Let’s say you’re a patient in any given community. Given your insurance and its coverage, there aren’t that many options. How do you deal with that in terms of provider choice?
Ted Chan: What we’re trying to do is give a patient a view of all of the providers that are available to them. One of the things that we are really on the leading edge of, especially from the perspective of healthcare directories, is that we’re huge proponents and supporters of telehealth. I’d say at this point, it’s part of our core mission to educate patients on telehealth options that are available.
Especially in rural areas, you tend to be able to get primary care. You tend to be able to get emergency care. But any specialist care is hard to come by. One of the things I’m really proud of is, we’ve been driving a lot of teletherapy appointments. That’s where somebody sees a mental health counselor in a Skype-like interface.
We’re doing a lot in educating patients about that. It’s a case where telehealth really fits. If you’re in a rural area and you have to go a long way to see a telehealth counselor or mental health counselor, right then, it ends up being something you avoid doing. It’s even stressful.
I know some folks who are dealing with mental health issues. Sometimes it’s hard just to get out the door and get dressed to find parking or get on public transportation and see a counselor. Educating consumers about telehealth is one of the things that’s really important to us. It’s a challenge because I wish health systems were better at it, but I think the silos is holding that back.
Sramana Mitra: How do you ensure that you get enough reviews for this to be meaningful? I just plugged into your website our zip code and I put endocrinologists just for the heck of it. There aren’t that many reviews.
Ted Chan: We definitely have fewer reviews in the specialist space. We have quite a bit more for folks like family medicine.
Sramana Mitra: It’s a specialist that you need, right? When you’re trying to find a really good specialist, that’s where you really need the reviews.
Ted Chan: I completely agree. We’re building the set. We’ll have a couple of hundred thousand soon. The specialist data will have to be more than 1 million or 2 million reviews before it starts to fill in. Because we’re committed to collecting all the reviews behind a log in, it takes a while. Some of our competitors are 15 to 20 years old. We’re engaged with a lot of consumers now and getting them back and reading more reviews. But until they actually see a specialist, it’s hard to get them to review one.