I recently learned about a new business called “medibid.” Billing itself as “the only real solution” to rising healthcare costs, medibid acts as a broker, allowing patients to register (for a fee) and describe what kind of healthcare service they are seeking and allowing physicians (who also pay a fee) to “bid” for the business at a stated price. As they say on their website: “MediBid has been called the ‘Priceline of Healthcare’ or the ‘Travelocity of Healthcare’ because of this.”
Wow, I admit to being fascinated and a bit horrified at the same time. On the one hand, I had a, “Boy, I wish I had thought of that” moment, followed quickly by, “OMG, is this really where we are headed?”
It seems to me that increasing transparency about the price of medical services is important, a good thing, and inevitable. And this “service” is ALL about price transparency. But the problem is that it seems to be ONLY about price transparency. My fear is that this approach is destined to create a “race to the bottom” in pricing, without any attention to quality.
It also seems fair to say that we brought this on ourselves. Decades of price “opacity” coupled with resistance to measuring and comparing the quality of our work has created a business opportunity for someone else to reduce the doctor-patient relationship into a reverse auction for commodities. I think that is pretty sad.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.