Blog

At DocSpot, our mission is to connect people with the right health care by helping them navigate publicly available information. We believe the first step of that mission is to help connect people with an appropriate medical provider, and we look forward to helping people navigate other aspects of their care as the opportunities arise. We are just at the start of that mission, so we hope you will come back often to see how things are developing.

An underlying philosophy of our work is that right care means different things to different people. We also recognize that doctors are multidimensional people. So, instead of trying to determine which doctors are "better" than others, we offer a variety of filter options that individuals can apply to more quickly discover providers that fit their needs.

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One background improvement

by jerry on May 06, 2012

Last week, I mentioned that there are a number of improvements that we've been working on that are not immediately visible to users. One of these background improvements that we're still in the process of rolling out is a faster page load. There are certain landing pages that users will visit from search engine results that now load faster than they did previously. These pages look a lot like the normal search results pages and the acceleration is done by pre-generating the pages (otherwise known as caching).

Last week, I mentioned that there are a number of improvements that we've been working on that are not immediately visible to users. One of these background improvements that we're still in the process of rolling out is a faster page load. There are certain landing pages that users will visit from search engine results that now load faster than they did previously. These pages look a lot like the normal search results pages and the acceleration is done by pre-generating the pages (otherwise known as caching). As a result, what is visible in those landing pages will sometimes be out of sync with what is presented in the search results pages. As we finish implementing this feature, however, those landing pages should get automatically re-generated over time and should not differ too much from the search results pages at any given point in time.

And yes, we plan on improving the speed of generating the search results page so that all users can benefit.

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It's been a year!

by jerry on April 28, 2012

It's been a year since we started this blog. Even though a lot has happened in the last twelve months, it's still surprising how quickly time has passed. While we've made a number of user interface refinements and launched Hospital Finder, most of our work has been behind the scenes. With a bunch of infrastructure improvements behind us, we look forward to turning more of our attention to the user interface over the next half year. Let us know if you have any thoughts on what we should focus on.

It's been a year since we started this blog. Even though a lot has happened in the last twelve months, it's still surprising how quickly time has passed. While we've made a number of user interface refinements and launched Hospital Finder, most of our work has been behind the scenes. With a bunch of infrastructure improvements behind us, we look forward to turning more of our attention to the user interface over the next half year. Let us know if you have any thoughts on what we should focus on.

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User testing

by liz on April 20, 2012

As we work on making our site easier to use and more applicable to the needs of the people who use it, we??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????ve been doing some user testing. (Not testing the knowledge or abilities of the users, but testing our site to see how well we??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????ve conveyed what we want to convey, and to get people??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????s insights about where we could improve.) This has mostly entailed talking with people at coffee shops about the site, how they might use it, and what they like or don??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????t like about it.

Would you like to be one of these awesome people who gives us input on our site and how we can continue to make it better? If so, shoot us a message at our contact form, and we can set up an online user testing session for you.

As we work on making our site easier to use and more applicable to the needs of the people who use it, we??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????ve been doing some user testing. (Not testing the knowledge or abilities of the users, but testing our site to see how well we??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????ve conveyed what we want to convey, and to get people??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????s insights about where we could improve.) This has mostly entailed talking with people at coffee shops about the site, how they might use it, and what they like or don??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????t like about it.

Would you like to be one of these awesome people who gives us input on our site and how we can continue to make it better? If so, shoot us a message at our contact form, and we can set up an online user testing session for you.

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Search engine landing pages now similar search results pages

by jerry on April 14, 2012

To help search engines navigate through our content, we have landing pages like http://www.docspot.com/d/CA/palo-alto/adult-oncology.html. Up until recently, those pages had a different layout from our search results pages, and they would encourage users to use the search form rather than browse for the appropriate provider. Last summer, we got some feedback that having two different layouts was confusing to the user.

To help search engines navigate through our content, we have landing pages like http://www.docspot.com/d/CA/palo-alto/adult-oncology.html. Up until recently, those pages had a different layout from our search results pages, and they would encourage users to use the search form rather than browse for the appropriate provider. Last summer, we got some feedback that having two different layouts was confusing to the user. Now that we have released the new search results user interface, we have also moved the search engine landing pages to use the same layout.

The pages aren't exactly the same, but they're pretty close. There may be some delay when visiting some of the pages for metropolitan areas that involve a lot of providers -- we're working on fixing that. Hopefully, the more consistent layout is less confusing for everyone. If anyone has feedback on the page, please let us know.

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How we order the search results

by jerry on April 07, 2012

Occasionally, we've gotten questions about how the search results are sorted. For all of you who are wondering, we don't order the search results based on quality. This is in large part due to our philosophy that the field of medicine is complex and that quality means different things to different people. Does quality mean healing patients the fastest? Healing people with the least pain? Does it mean preventing his or her patients from getting sick in the first place?

Occasionally, we've gotten questions about how the search results are sorted. For all of you who are wondering, we don't order the search results based on quality. This is in large part due to our philosophy that the field of medicine is complex and that quality means different things to different people. Does quality mean healing patients the fastest? Healing people with the least pain? Does it mean preventing his or her patients from getting sick in the first place? Not only is the meaning of quality ambiguous, but meaningfully assessing quality based on publicly available data is very difficult. For example, would you prefer to see a doctor who recently completed a prestigious training program or a doctor who has twenty years of experience, but who trained at a residency that few people have heard of? Even people within the medical community would disagree on the answer to that.

Additionally, the emphasis for quality probably differs for the different specialties. For a person's primary care, communication skills will be important -- you want to be able to freely communicate with your doctor to convey what's bothering you. For a surgeon, you probably care more about technical skill and how many times the doctor has performed similar procedures.

The needs of a patient will also help determine what are the most appropriate qualities to look for in a doctor. For example, a parent of a child with a rare disorder might only care about how much experience pediatric specialists have treating patients with that specific disorder and might especially esteem research in that area. A busy and healthy professional might not care about research, but rather care that the doctor offers amenities like secure messaging.

Hence, rather than presume to know what's most appropriate for you, we instead strive to offer you a powerful search interface that offers you customized results based on your expressed preferences. When there are multiple matches for what you're looking for, you can narrow the list down by using the filters, now located at the top of the search results page. There might continue to be multiple matches, and that brings us back to the original question of how we sort the search results.

We currently order the results based on how much information we have on the doctor. The theory is that the more information that we have about a doctor, the easier it is for a patient to decide whether that doctor is an appropriate match. Incidentally, the more information that we have about a doctor, the more searches that doctor is likely to show up in. For example, if a patient filters for a specific insurance plan, our search results should only include doctors for which we believe accept that plan. Right now, we measure breadth of information, not depth. That is to say, having five phone numbers does not get a doctor's listing higher, but listing one award and one amenity (such as online scheduling of appointments) does raise that doctor's listing. We plan on tweaking this scoring algorithm as time goes on, but we encourage doctors who want to be found to claim their profiles and fill out what they want others to know about them.

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