May 18, 2015 — A new service called MyChoiceMD is preparing to launch in Colorado that aims to revolutionize the way patients find, pay for, schedule and track their routine medical care. The service has been incubating in Northern Colorado and has completed a 10-month pilot in Cheyenne under the name Galen. It is targeted at the large population of self-pay patients that includes both insured and uninsured patients.
As mobile device usage has exploded over the last five years, it has enabled the development of a highly disruptive approach to delivering goods and services to people. This approach is known broadly as the 'sharing economy' and it has been in the news a lot over the last year. Companies such as Uber and AirBnb have transformed industries that in the past offered limited choice and no easy way to compare prices between different providers.
It is a common misconception that the only cash buyers of healthcare are those without medical insurance. According to a 2014 Kaiser Family Foundation study, 41 percent of privately insured patients have a deductible of more than $1,000. These people will spend at least $1,000 out of their own pocket during a plan year before they begin to receive insurance benefits. With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, employees of companies large and small have faced a significant increase in their out-of-pocket costs in the form of these increased deductibles. This population, combined with the population of the uninsured, brings the number of self-pay patients to 750,000 people in Denver alone.
MyChoiceMD provides a technology platform that helps these self-pay patients search for non-emergency medical care in their area. Patients can visit mychoicemd.co to find physicians in their area based upon their symptoms. They can also search for common services such as annual exams and sports physicals. Patients can compare between participating providers by price, service, location and even available appointment schedule.
After the patient selects their provider, the platform requires payment for the service up front. This enables of one of its most appealing features for self-pay patients — significant savings on medical services. In the words of Chief Medical Officer Eric Hoyer M.D., "by collecting payment up front, we are able to secure a significantly lower price than patients could negotiate for themselves or even what they would get from the negotiated rates with their insurance plans."
A key goal for the service is ensuring a good selection of top-quality providers on the platform. As the official launch date approaches, the firm has already announced that several key provider groups in Northern Colorado have signed up and are ready to list their services when they launch. Among the registered provider groups will be Associates in Family Medicine, the premier independent family practice in Northern Colorado, as well as innovative new practices such as Broomfield Direct Care. According to Stanley Jack, M.D., of Broomfield Direct Care, "I like MyChoiceMD because it empowers both patients and physicians. By simplifying the purchase and administration of medical services, MyChoiceMD emphasizes and promotes a restoration of the doctor-patient relationship"
A frequent question from potential users focuses on how MyChoiceMD might work with their existing insurance plans. The service is targeted at self-pay patients, so it is not directly affiliated with any insurer. Patients with high deductibles are discovering it is often less expensive for them to operate as a cash pay patient due to prompt pay and other discounts than to submit claims against a deductible they will not meet. Their insurance policy becomes their safety net for catastrophic problems rather than their mechanism for seeking care. Patients are able to track expenditures and easily get a report through the platform for taxes or should a catastrophic claim occur.
For more information: www.mychoicemd.co