A lot of people don't like hospital visits, but the displeasure starts long before they take a step inside the doctor's office. Unfortunately, booking a visit sometimes requires great lengths, and the extra effort makes going to the doctor all the more tedious. Fortunately, an app has come to ease booking woes, making scheduling an appointment with a doctor more convenient than ever.

ZocDoc is an online service that allows patients with non-life threatening conditions to conveniently schedule anything, from a routine visit to a doctor to a trip to the emergency room, from their smartphones or computers. Think of it as an OpenTable for doctor's appointments.

There are others like ZocDoc, and they mostly use a simple booking process that entails going to a website and entering the kind of service needed and a patient's preferred area. It's generally difficult for a new patient to be squeezed in, but most say that it should take no more than a couple of days to get an appointment when using ZocDoc.

Appointments are still not on the dot but patients are usually seen by doctors within 20 minutes. Should it be a particularly busy day in the emergency room, those with reservations are notified via text to come later so they won't have to wait a long time.

Booking services like ZocDoc are becoming more popular with doctors and hospitals because they have placed a premium on attracting and retaining patients, and it's definitely easy to attract and retain patients if they are satisfied.

Not to mention there are financial incentives for keeping patients happy, especially with payouts from the Affordable Care Act now being affected by levels of patient satisfaction.

ZocDoc is based in New York. The booking service sees over 6 million patients making appointments for family doctors, dentists and other specialists across more than 2,000 cities in the country every month. ZocDoc was started by Cyrus Massoumi in 2007. He was also a frustrated patient back then. He was made to wait four days before getting to see an ear specialist after his eardrum ruptured in a long flight.

If a healthcare provider is not included in ZocDoc's service, patients are advised to check online for proprietary services from the provider. Some have their own online booking service named under their own brand.

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