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When the Doctors Bid on Your Business

Imagine a health care system in which economic power lay with the consumer instead of the producer. Earlier this week, the LA Times profiled Medibid, a service that lets patients receive bids from doctors for the medical work they need done. For a yearly fee, patients can log on to the site, enter their needs, and see what the cheapest rate for the procedure(s) is. Medibid seems to be pretty small-scale currently, but it’s not the only service out there trying to change how medical shopping works:

San Francisco-based Pokitdok (, co-founded by CEO Lisa Maki in 2011, operates in 44 markets, including Los Angeles. You can search the 50 most shopped medical procedures among 40,000 providers who have submitted their cash price.

If Pokitdok does not have the price for the procedure you’re looking for, you can ask it to retrieve up to five quotes for you.

As more tech companies turn their attention to health care, we’re likely to see several startups like this come and go—some may stick, others may fade. But however all these companies shake-out, the need they’re aiming to meet—an improved health care experience that gives more power to consumers—is very real and pressing. The sooner new approaches like this take off, the better, and cheaper, the U.S. health care system will become.

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  • Frank Natoli

    Very nice. But this service is predicated on NOT having to satisfy 51 different sets of laws regarding what can be offered and at what price. The sine qua non is federal pre-emption of state insurance regulations so that inter-state corporations can offer services that satisfy the consumer and not the state bureaucrat [or special interests].

  • qet

    Not so sure about this, as it feels like the whole “empowering the consumer” thing is quickly going from the sublime to the ridiculous. I was in Dallas recently and along one of the freeways were numerous large billboards of docs advertising some kind of gastric band for a stated price, all in huge letters and vivid colors. Now that’s competition! Right?

    Made me think of Dr. Nick Riviera. Is that what we really want?

    • Frank Natoli

      Isn’t it curious that adverts are found for discretionary expenditures, e.g., cosmetic surgery or gastric bands? The only medical expenses that the government doesn’t dictate?

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