Due to the rise in high-deductible plans patients need tools that can give them transparency about health care costs. In an era of e-tickets and internet and app-based banking it should also be easier for doctors and physicians to collect payments.
According to a 2007 report from McKinsey, hospitals and providers usually collect about 50 percent of the post insurance balance (or the amount owed by the patient beyond what insurance covers or what they pay at the time of treatment). That's not because patients won't pay, Brooks emphasized, it's often because they're either too confused about what they need to pay or they don't believe that they were billed correctly.
AdvertisementWith virtual cards, physicians would be able to collect payments without complications and delays, while the patient is aware of the cost of the treatment.
"We're taking this very simple concept as a starting point to engage patients," Brooks said. "A challenge most companies have is they shoot really high in the adoption curve... we'd like to meet people at the most basic level where they are today."
The startup is a part of Dreamit Health and the first version of its app will take a few months, the concept is to enable patients to be able to check on their smart phones and also provide insurance information to their doctors via their phones - the app would verify their eligibility for insurance. Also the patients would be aware of approximate cost for the treatment.
As the system evolves, Brooks said, it could store and share medical information so that patients don't need to fill out forms every time they visit the doctor and it could deliver appointment reminders. This is meant to be a free service for patients.
Initially, physicians would pay for Medlio services and, later, insurance companies eager to win the trust and attention of their members could also use Medlio to advertise and communicate with patients.
Digital cards are gaining popularity for car insurance - in a few states, drivers can show their insurance with apps or pdfs. But health care obviously implicates a wider range of concerns. Consumers may be wary of the security and privacy consequences of storing and sharing medical and financial information in an app and providers may be reluctant to adopt a virtual card because of HIPAA issues.
For independent physicians to sign up could be a challenge for an upstart company. But Brooks said they believe that this is a big problem providers need to solve and, he added, because consumers can download and use the app on their own, they could help push doctors to the service.
Hannah Punitha (IRDA Licence Number: 2710062)
KiMae Heussner, April 2013