Directory to disrupt healthcare

29/07/2016 - 13:31

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Major health insurers HBF and Bupa have announced they will invest in the development of fellow insurer nib’s online health service platform, Whitecoat, which promotes itself as a TripAdvisor-like model offering consumers search, booking, survey, and pay functions for healthcare treatment.

Directory to disrupt healthcare
Rob Bransby believes Whitecoat will be beneficial for patients and service providers. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Major health insurers HBF and Bupa have announced they will invest in the development of fellow insurer nib’s online health service platform, Whitecoat, which promotes itself as a TripAdvisor-like model offering consumers search, booking, survey, and pay functions for healthcare treatment.

HBF and Bupa will invest in the digital platform alongside nib and its existing partner, Digital Health Ventures, to develop an open mobile marketplace that will give consumers access to information on healthcare providers.

Nib managing director Mark Fitzgibbon said developing Whitecoat into an industry-wide platform available to all health funds and industry groups had always been the intention, and he hoped the joint venture would allow greater reach across Australia.

Whitecoat was launched in 2013 as a search-and-comparison website to help consumers find and choose clinical providers. Major competitors include Western Australian operated HealthEngine, which was financially backed by Telstra and Seven West Media, as well as Sydney established appointment booking platform 1st Available. 

The site currently carries more than 250,000 customer reviews and hosts about 35,000 registered providers, the majority of these being ancillary suppliers such as dentists and optometrists.

The partners plan to expand this base into medical specialists and surgeons, allowing consumers to search, survey, book and pay for healthcare treatment with their chosen provider, and increase usage of the site by leveraging the private health insurers’ combined membership pool of 6 million Australians.

Bupa managing director Dwayne Crombie said it was important for the healthcare sector to work together in light of rising health costs.

“Australia has a world-class healthcare system and some of the best clinicians, but many consumers remain in the dark about who they should see for treatment and how much it will cost,” he said.

“This is information that is readily available to consumers in almost every other industry and is critical to driving competition on price and performance.”

HBF managing director Rob Bransby believes Whitecoat addresses the lack of transparency in healthcare and, as a result, will add value to patients and providers.

“This is all about empowering the health consumer and giving them information that helps them make informed choices about their health providers, from dentists and opticians to GPs and specialsists,” Mr Bransby said.

“Whitecoat gives clinicians a new capability to benchmark their performance against their peers, and provides information about the experience they are delivering to their patients.” 

Look out for our Healthcare feature on Monday. 

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