Moses Hohman: The detailed version is a long story, but briefly it came out of three observations that we’ve made after talking to hundreds of patients and doctors.
First, existing solutions that help people find doctors are almost never used by doctors themselves. Doctors are patients too, so we wanted to build something that conformed more to how these “expert users” operate. Everyone should be able to look for a doctor the way physicians do.
There are important reasons why those of us who don’t work in healthcare can’t do this. We don’t have access to the information we need to help us make an informed decision.
Despite a number of other Internet efforts in this space, useful information about doctors is still lacking. As a result, a lot of doctor selection is essentially random. We cannot effectively “network” like doctors can.
Finally, for most of the 1900s, healthcare was never advertised (in fact the AMA banned it until 1982). Today the vast majority of doctors still prefer to grow their practice through word of mouth. It’s authentic, well suited to the profession, and leads to a more connected patient base. However, it currently takes years to build a practice this way.
We saw a tremendous opportunity to build something enormously positive for doctors and patients alike, something that would help people do a much better job picking doctors, and help doctors grow strong practices filled with people looking for a doctor like them.
BTE: What’s your revenue model?
Moses Hohman: We charge healthcare providers a yearly subscription. For this subscription they get an enhanced profile, we collect recommendations at the point of care, and we help them send monthly health tips to their patients, which patients can then share on Facebook and Twitter. We also offer a basic package that just offers the enhanced profile.
BTE: Doesn’t having doctors pay you bias the site?
Moses Hohman: We’ve worked hard to design something very authentic. You can recommend any doctor, dentist, etc. through Human Practice, not just doctors who are customers of the site. The social connection between the person recommending and the person who receives the recommendation is key.
You are unlikely to disappoint people you care about by recommending something as important as a doctor if you don’t truly feel good about your recommendation. This model also encourages doctors in a very positive way to be the best doctor they can be for their patients.
We think it’s great that if a doctor seldom gets recommended by his patients, then it doesn’t benefit him to be a customer of Human Practice. We want to help great doctors get the word out about the care they’re providing, so more patients can benefit from it.
BTE: How do you deal with privacy?
Moses Hohman: We take privacy very seriously, and we’ve learned that we have to design something that fits different situations.
For patient-to-patient doctor recommendation sharing, we focus primarily on word of mouth about specialties that are less private: primary care, dentists, ob/gyn, pediatricians, dermatologists, chiropractors, etc. Most people are happy to share recommendations about these with others, because having one doesn’t imply anything about your health status. And to see a friend’s recommendation on our site, you don’t have to let anyone know you’re looking (particularly relevant for ob/gyns!)
Different people are more or less open about things like this. Women tend to be more social about these decisions, and they’re also usually the primary healthcare decision maker for their household. You only need a few open people to help a lot of their friends out by providing great healthcare recommendations.
Finally, for serious health problems, we can direct you to 1st and 2nd degree friend connections who work in healthcare and can provide you with a recommendation confidentially. That’s how the pros do it. We want to give the same tools to everyone else.