Ever Heard of Health 2.0?

October 5, 2012

Patrick Spain

First Stop Health is not alone in trying to remake the opaque, confusing, inconvenient, provider- and insurer-centric healthcare system. At our last count, and we are falling behind, there were more than 1,000 new companies focusing on improving patients' access and experience with the American healthcare system.

This industry is sometimes referred to as Health 2.0. There is an entire organization with this name that supports and informs those of us participating in the industry.

It is not because the U.S. lacks excellent doctors and facilities (we have the best) that we are ranked #37 in the world in the quality of our healthcare (behind Morocco, Cyprus, and most of the developed world). It is because the system has been hijacked by history, transmogrified into Dr. Frankenstein's monster. With layers upon layers of detritus that once fulfilled a need but no longer does, it is slowly grinding to a standstill as prices rise and the convenience of patients is sacrificed to the convenience of insurers and providers.

Why do only a fraction of U.S. states require health insurance to cover phone calls to doctors? Why would an insurance company charge you a higher co-pay to visit a less-expensive urgent care clinic than it would to visit a more-expensive physician's office?

One of the goals I have for this blog is to highlight some of those companies that are doing the work of sorting out the mess and making it easier, less expensive, and more convenient to get healthcare.

Among the players in this space are those expanding the hours and convenience of healthcare by creating chains of urgent care centers that can handle many minor injuries and conditions such as Concentra and U.S. Healthworks. WhiteGlove Health now has nurses making house (and office) calls in five states for $35 a visit. ZocDoc is helping patients make same day and next day appointments with primary care physicians and specialists, using a sophisticated scheduling program (and the $90 million in venture capital it has raised) to sell participation to doctors and patients alike. Castlight Health is helping employees of self-insured companies obtain and use information about the widely varying prices charged for the same or similar services to get treatments for lower prices, saving both the employees and their employers money. And RxNetwork is helping patients to compare drug prices for prescription drugs at stores near them. If you want to see how dramatic the price differences can be, go here.

If you'd like to make suggestions for other companies I should cover, please email me (ceo@fshealth.com) with details.

Originally published Oct 5, 2012 10:00:03 AM.