Fair Healthcare Prices

As most of you know, I’m a tech person by background. So, most of my focus on my blogs is about EMR and other healthcare IT related technology. However, every once in a while I like to point out interesting uses of technology in healthcare.

One example of this was this interesting website called FairCare MD. They call themselves The New Healthcare Marketplace. Essentially if you’re a patient looking for a certain treatment or other healthcare need, you can search for a qualified doctor in your area using their system. As a doctor you can list your services and the prices for your services.

One of the challenges of a service like this is the chicken and the egg problem. You need enough doctors to make the service useful for patients, but doctors don’t want to use the system until there are patients searching the website as well. I’m not exactly sure how they plan to solve it.

Plus, it seems like they need to work on their search algorithm some more too. I searched for Acne Treatment and it returned a bunch of results for Orthodonic Treatment. Not a very good match.

While there technology and database is still in need of work, I find the concept of a healthcare marketplace really intriguing. The idea that I could go online and search for similar healthcare services like I might compare prices for a computer online is interesting. There are definitely differences in how you should search. FairCare MD will also need to really invest in a way to differentiate the good doctors from the bad ones. That’s just much easier said than done.

I also found this blog post they did which addresses what they call a Win-Win-Win-Win Situation for Healthcare. They were appropriately concerned with how their service would be seen by insurance companies since it kind of cuts insurance companies out of the loop. However, he describes some possible benefits to the insurance companies of this approach. I’m not as rosy on a service like this being a nice win for insurance companies, but if this type of service takes off, there’s no doubt that it could have an impact on healthcare and healthcare prices. Isn’t it beautiful what the power of the internet can make possible?

Either way, I love their mission of Fair Healthcare Prices.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.

7 Comments

  • I actually know these guys pretty well, and they do indeed have an interesting concept in place. And though I have quibbles with some aspects of their business model, they’re also doing a great job of bringing both doctors and consumers to the site.

    (Interestingly, from what last I heard, it’s much easier to get doctors than consumers to participate. I think the advantages of the system are clearer to practices.)

    To create more traffic on both consumer and doctor ends, they’re using an affiliate model. They’re signing up affiliates across the country who are given the chance to build their own network, in essence.

    I think this model has a down side — my gut tells me such network building is better done on a centralized basis — but you can’t argue with the progress they’re making.

    I encourage anyone interested in this model to reach out to CEO Alex Fair and share your thoughts. He’s at alex@faircaremd.com or @faircaremd.

  • What do you think they’d need to do to get consumers to participate in it?

    I can see why doctors would want to participate, but without consumers/patients those doctors won’t stay on there very long.

  • Hey John,
    Thanks for the positive and objective review. You are absolutely correct, our semantic search has a basic problem: not enough results to pull from. I wish we had an acne treatment doctor, we have had hundreds of searches for “Acne” and thousands for Dermatologists and while I believe there is at least on Derm in there, we need thousands to cover the whole country. It is indeed a Chicken AND Egg problem. We figure we need about 2-4% of the providers in America to make search work well everywhere. We already have that for NYC. Try a search for colonoscopy in 10016 or MRI or foot pain,… anxiety. I have tweaked the search a couple times trying to deal with this but short of just turning it off with low scores (which I can do) I don’t have a better solution. I think I will crank it down for the really low scores. Thanks for the input.

    So what can an efficient market do?
    So far, on average, doctors get paid 25% bett than insurance companies pay.
    Patients pay up to 75% less than they would have otherwise. Without FairCareMD, on average, people without insurance are charged 2.5 x more than insurance companies pay for the same exact services from the same doctors. Sad, but true.

    Where is the Win-Win-Win-Win?
    Well look at the math for a service that innovators have a lower cost of business for. The average price for a colonoscopy paid in America is about $2,225. The average one on FairCareMD.com so far is $1,209 so far. That represents a 46% savings. Extrapolate that across the US and it is 2 Billion in savings. I don’t care who is paying for it, it is better to drive prices down and the three parties paying are Patients, Employers, and Insurance companies. How is this possible? Well, when you give people a choice, they will often choose based on price, especially when great doctors offer fair prices.

    This is another aspect of an inefficient marketplace. When you create something like FairCareMD people actually wind up paying what things are really worth to them and market forces are allowed to act on artificially inflated prices.

    Hi Dr. West,
    Please be welcome to get started on your account. We do facilitated set up for a small fee or you can DIY it and use the templates in the system. It is really just a content management system designed for medical practices and SEO optimization. It will get well created profile top search results pretty reliably.

    Hi Kathleen, how you been? Indeed, we are still signing up Market Makers all over the country and have a centralized model budding. On the other hand, if we have a successful market maker in an area we pass the lead or sale on to the local rep. One thing has changed though. Since our pagerank went up a notch or two and our content is fresh and blooming we have been getting more real patients, doing more deals and making more requests. When the farmer update came on we were among the winners. We have the eggs, now we just need more brave chickens.

    All: Thanks for your comments and thoughts. If you have more questions please post them here or on our blog or at my email address Kathleen provided above and I am happy to learn your questions.

    Best regards,
    Alex B. Fair
    (and yes, that is my real name)

  • Thanks for stopping by Alex. I love the work you’re doing. I just wish that you had more coverage in the Las Vegas area so I could use it when I needed healthcare. Keep grinding away. I love those that are changing the pricing model in healthcare.

  • Thanks John, we do appreciate all the positive feedback we get.

    As for the lack of local offers, we are looking for Market Makers all across America. All you need is energy, some phone/ typing skills, and motivation and we can give the tools to make a Healthcare marketplace anywhere. We know we need lots of help getting every physician, dentist, and health professional on board, so we have a generous affiliate program to enable thousands to participate in our grassroots DIY healthcare reform. This is our health, something too important to entrust to a corporation or government. Crowd sourcing our network makes more sense to us.

    Feel free to recommend a Market Maker or just request what you need and we will get you what you need for a fair price through our advocacy program. Every request helps us sign up more doctors by showing them that we can help set them free from the yoke of big insurance companies too.
    Be Well,
    Alex B. Fair
    (And yes, that is my real name)

  • Two years later, this movement towards fairer healthcare is still going strong and gaining steam. Consumers are waking up to the marketplace innovations made available to them online, and doctors are getting on-board as well. Significant changes to the industry are nigh.

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