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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 (pokitdok.com), 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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