Like most parents of two little ones, Tiffani Jake is one busy mom, too busy to sit around waiting for the doctor to see her girls, Madison and Kassidy.
When she called her doctor to make an appointment, she was annoyed to get the answering service during office hours. It directed her instead to ZocDoc, a free online appointment booking service that allowed her to make a same-day appointment at a time she chose so she could get on with the rest of her day.
Sound too good to be true?
"It was really great," the Oak Forest mom says. She liked the patient reviews of doctors and downloaded the ZocDoc app to make getting an appointment even easier.
Dr. Oliver Kharraz, a dad of twins and chief operating officer of ZocDoc, says he uses it in the middle of the night when his kids are sick. It takes the stress out of waiting until the morning to see if you can even get in to see the doctor, he says.
ZocDoc is one of Chicago's best-kept secrets. It's been here since 2010, after launching in New York City four years ago.
"Giving patients access to doctors when they need them is really the problem that we set out to solve," Kharraz says.
In Chicago, that means there are hundreds of thousands of appointments available, searchable by zip code and type of doctor.
"We can take all the last-minute cancellations, reschedules, etc., that would otherwise go unused in a doctor's day and we can make those available on the Web for booking. We can basically uncover that hidden supply of health care and make the entire system more efficient," Kharraz says.
The system also allows people to filter doctors by insurance plans, meaning parents can save time by not having to check their insurance website first to make sure the doctor qualifies.
Each ZocDoc user is encouraged to review the doctor, providing others a star-rating Kharraz says is a pretty accurate representation of what real patients actually think of a doctor.
Tamara is the editor of Chicago Parent and mom of three.
See more of Tamara's stories here.