Even the Experts Have Trouble Finding Specialists

February 17, 2021

Neal Linkon

“Few things are more routine — pre-pandemic, anyway — than the semiannual dental cleaning,” says Neal Linkon. “Routine, that is, until the dentist stops in for a quick exam and asks: ‘How long have you had that white spot on your tongue?’

“I had no idea what she was talking about. But the quarter-size white spot hurt like the devil when she tried to scrape it off. Then came the gut punch we all fear: ‘Neal, you need to see a specialist right away. I think that’s cancer.'”

Linkon retired in 2019 as the director of marketing operations for Children’s Wisconsin, after a 20-year career in healthcare marketing. Despite decades spent in the healthcare industry, he found his quest for a specialist surprisingly daunting. Here’s an excerpt from his new article for us:

I’ll save you the suspense and assure you that [the spot was benign]. But it took two weeks to confirm. In the meantime, I was a normal healthcare consumer looking for a specialist.

Actually, I take that back. Having worked in healthcare for 20 years, having a wife who’s a nurse and multiple family members who are providers, I’m probably not your typical healthcare consumer. So when I struggled to find the right provider, it was eye-opening.

Here’s what surprised me the most: When I couldn’t find an oral cancer specialist on one website — even though I know they exist — I left that website and tried another. Soon, I found myself looking 100 miles away.

That probably shouldn’t have surprised me, though, because I remember all too well conducting usability tests at Children’s Wisconsin and seeing people fail to find providers I knew existed — and watching them give up rather than try to search again. I’ll expose a personal bias formed from years of an almost compulsive deep dive into the world of “null” search results and note that having too many options increases the chances of the user finding no providers.

Read the rest of the article now: My Personal “Find a Doctor” Journey

Best regards,
Matt Humphrey

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