Startups Increasingly Offering Online Concierge-Style Health Services

May 9, 2014 in News

Health care startups are increasingly using the Internet to “fill gaps” in the health care system by offering affordably priced, on-demand concierge-like services to consumers across the country, Wired/Kaiser Health News reports.

Background

According to Wired/KHN, growth in concierge-type health care startups can be partly attributed to a national shift toward personalized health care, a trend facilitated by increased access to the Internet and digital information, as well as the federal government’s efforts to boost health care access and transparency.

About the Startups

The startups aim to provide health care to the middle class in much the same way that technology firms like Amazon and Uber do for personal shopping and transportation.

They operate both regionally and nationally, offering consumers online access to basic medical services, such as:

  • Appointment scheduling assistance; and
  • Medical advice.

For example, one concierge care services startup, Grand Rounds in San Francisco, offers clients:

  • Access to a vetted list of physicians and specialists;
  • Directs them through a guided process;
  • Resolves any issues related to states’ physician licensing rules;
  • Secures patient information;
  • Offers additional malpractice insurance for participating physicians; and
  • Ensures second-opinions within 72 hours.

Overall, the companies say their customers often pay much less than other patients typically would for the same services from a private, concierge physician, adding that their services are better tailored and streamlined to individual clients’ needs.

However, prices for the services can vary significantly. For example, they typically charge a monthly or annual subscription fee ranging from about $50 a month to $149 a year. Additional costs could be included for physical exams, surgeries or second opinions.

The companies generate income by marketing their services and products directly to individual consumers or employers, who offer the services as an additional benefit for employees, Wired/KHN reports.

In addition, some firms might accept payments from insurers or consumers through health savings accounts. Meanwhile, the companies also offer additional revenue streams for physicians and hospitals (Hernandez, Wired/Kaiser Health News, 5/7).

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