Health IT

Attention, shoppers: No health insurance? Doctors offer deals, reward points on this site

It’s become clear that healthcare consumers want to be able to see what they’re going to pay for a medical appointment before they go. And while insurance companies are starting to get on board with that, there’s still a gap for the $49 million Americans without health insurance. Enter Health In Reach, which wants to […]

It’s become clear that healthcare consumers want to be able to see what they’re going to pay for a medical appointment before they go. And while insurance companies are starting to get on board with that, there’s still a gap for the $49 million Americans without health insurance.

Enter Health In Reach, which wants to make basic healthcare more accessible to these self-paying patients who may put off medical appointments for financial reasons. It’s an online database of doctors and dentists who provide information about their practices, offer discounts and tell potential patients what’s included in their prices for certain procedures.

“It’s service transparency,” said CEO Scott Sangster. “Pricing is one part of that – it’s the most important part for people who are paying out of pocket – but often times people want to know how long a procedure takes, or what exactly they’re going to get.”

Patients create a free account that they use to find doctors, schedule appointments, see prices and lock-in discounts before their appointments. After their appointments, they can leave reviews and ratings of their experiences.

Sangster said that about 40 percent of the thousands of providers using Health In Reach are dentists. That’s fitting, as more than 100 million Americans don’t go to the dentist, according to PBS, and the website provides a way for dentists to attract new patients with discounts. The other 60 percent of providers run the gamut of specialties.

“We want patients who are coming in to find whatever kind of specialist they’re looking for within 15 miles from their home,” Sangster said.

The newest feature of Health In Reach is a rewards program called CarePoints. An initial bunch of points is awarded when people create an account, and then they earn additional points by booking appointments and writing reviews on the site. Providers can also offer points, which they might do for patients who book appointments at certain times of the day that tend to be slower, or on certain days of the week that aren’t as busy. Points can be redeemed for discounts on healthcare services through the website’s network of providers.

For a reality check, I searched the site as if I were looking for basic oral and eye exams in the Cleveland area, where MedCity News is based. The site returned dozens of providers in the area, many of them which listed what was included in the basic exam, although only a few explicitly stated their prices or how long the appointment would take.

Along with fleshing out the site’s features, employing a sustainable business model is key for Health In Reach, as it is with any other web-based companies. Sangster said the company makes its money by offering premium services that providers can opt into.

When I asked him about the competition – namely other doctor finders and appointment booking sites like ZocDoc and BetterDoctor – Sangster said his company is focused on the bigger picture of bringing patients and providers closer together and will continue to develop the site with that in mind.

Founded in 2009, Health In Reach was part of Rock Health’s inaugural class. It was also incubated at OrganicStartup in Hollywood and received financing from Tech Coast Angels. In May 2010, it merged with PriceDoc. Together the companies have raised more than $6 million in venture capital.

[Photos from Idea go, Health In Reach]