Health insurance providers nib, Bupa, and HBF have announced they are banding together to expand Whitecoat, a platform allowing consumers to search for and review healthcare providers. Launched in 2013 by foundation investor nib, the expansion will see Whitecoat increase its reach to around six million Australians.
The addition of Bupa and Western Australia’s HBF as investors will also see Whitecoat allow consumers to book and pay for treatment with their chosen provider directly through the platform. The platform currently features over 250,000 reviews of allied healthcare professionals such as GPs, physiotherapists, and dentists, with specialists to be added.
Mark Fitzgibbon, managing director of nib, said the joint venture will give Whitecoat greater reach and penetration across Australia, with the original vision for the platform to develop it into an industry-wide platform.
“There is simply too little transparency when it comes to the customer’s experience of the healthcare system. And dealing with healthcare providers remains very ‘clunky’ in a digital world in which consumers increasingly expect automation,” he said.
“From the very beginning, Whitecoat has been all about empowering consumers with better information to make more informed decisions. Whitecoat is another example how the digital world is shifting power away from the ‘sellers’ of goods and services to the ‘buyers’ and Whitecoat reflects this trend. It is pro-consumer.”
Echoing these thoughts, HBF managing director Rob Bransby said Whitecoat is about empowering the health consumer to make informed choices about their healthcare providers, while also benefiting providers themselves.
“Whitecoat gives clinicians a new capability to automate a lot of paperwork, benchmark their performance against their peers, and provides information about the experience they are delivering to their consumers and patients,” he said.
There are, of course, a number of startups operating in this space: Melbourne’s HealthKit, for example, targets both health practitioners and their patients through various products, with its main offering a practice management system for private practices. The system processes payments, taking into account the various organisations this transaction incorporates, from Medicare to health insurance providers, while its patient platform allows users to search for and book practitioners.
As Whitecoat shows, the healthcare industry is now looking to catch up to startups pushing the envelope, with a number of initiatives launching this year. Insurance provider HCF ran its Catalyst accelerator in partnership with Slingshot, while HBF too recently launched its own accelerator, Activate, in conjunction with Perth startup hub Spacecubed.
Image: Mark Fitzgibbon. Source: theherald.com.au