SUNNYVALE, Calif., Nov. 19 Americans are among the mostsophisticated consumer shoppers on the planet, spending countless hours onlinecomparing the characteristics and prices of cars, homes, clothes andelectronics. Yet when it comes to shopping for a physician, even the mosteducated consumers often resort to an outdated approach that can best bedescribed as "eeny, meeny, miny, moe."
Part of the problem is that the traditional tools for finding a physician-- the telephone directory, insurance provider list, or a referral from afriend -- haven't changed much in the last three decades. The healthcareindustry has been slow to adapt to consumers' rapidly evolving online shoppingdemands. Physicians haven't helped much either. They've been slow to adoptonline marketing because of the perceived time, money and energy required tomarket their practice, credentials and prices on the Internet. As a result,prospecting patients are left in the dark. Most find that it's easier and morereliable to select a good hotel than to find the right doctor.
But with consumers now shouldering a greater portion of their healthcarecosts, a growing number are demanding "more efficient and more intelligentways to select a doctor," according to consumer advocate Allison Guimard. Lastyear, Guimard decided to channel her own frustration into an online physiciandirectory called Alijor.com. Alijor.com is a medical Web portal thatfacilitates the easy connection between consumers seeking medical services andlocal healthcare providers.
"Traditional tools for choosing a doctor don't tell you what an officevisit costs, how long the doctor has been practicing, or whether the doctor iseven accepting new patients," said Guimard, CEO of Alijor.com. "The mission ofAlijor is to give consumers information about local physicians -- includingthe doctor's credentials, where they went to school, and the cost of an officevisit -- to help consumers shop around for the best doctor before they everpick up the phone to make an appointment.
"Our Web portal goes a step further by also allowing consumers to postinformation or questions about their condition on our site," says Guimard, "sothat local doctors can respond to them with answers about their concerns,their costs or the scope of their services."
Patients surfing the Alijor Web site can find chiropractors,acupuncturists, plastic surgeons, psychologists and many other medicalpractitioners. They can even email various providers to compare prices beforechoosing the doctor who seems to best meet their healthcare needs.
Physicians are finding Alijor.com to be advantageous, too, because thesite lets them register and advertise their practice for free to a pool ofprospective patients who are actively looking for a new doctor.
Guimard claims that sites like Alijor.com are destined to become the"medical yellow pages" of the future, connecting patients and doctors who mayotherwise find it difficult to connect.
Currently Alijor.com has more than 20,000 registered patient users andmore than 2,000 registered providers. For more information, visit Alijor.comor call 408-733-6400, extension 301.
Alijor.com is one of the nation's premier healthcare Web portals enablingconsumers seeking medical services to connect with local physicians and otherhealthcare providers seeking to expand their practices. Consumers post theirmedical service needs online for free, and local providers respond with theservices they offer and an estimated cost for medical care. Alijor.com allowsthe consumer and provider to exchange information, make appointments, andagree on pricing, thus encouraging consumer engagement, education and pricetransparency in an expanding consumer-directed healthcare marketplace.Alijor.com also enables providers to market their services to patients onlineat no cost.