Prior to starting Clinic Price Check, Joanne Rodrigues-Craig was a home mother with masters degrees in population demography, political science, and applied mathematics from Berkeley and the London School of Economics.
She had written a book on demographics and politics, published papers on data analysis for predictive customer insights, and most recently worked as a statistics manager for Sony. But when her daughter caught the flu and left Rodrigues-Craig with a $ 800 hospital bill after a trip to the emergency room, she found her entrepreneurial mission – to find out why health care expenses for some people who paid with insurance were as high as the money cost could be much lower.
The advance was a follow-up call to the hospital where the family was being cared for. Rodrigues-Craig was informed that the family̵
This revelation sent Clinic Price Checks Founder of a data science rabbit hole where she discovered that the differences between cash prices and payments through insurers can be very different.
“Different groups of payers pay very different amounts for the same services,” said Rodrigues-Clark. The solo founder spent a few years building a database of comprehensive medical device prices. However, as the product evolved and the effects of the labor – this could save US patients hundreds of dollars in medical payments – Rodrigues-Clark became more committed to friends and family to help.
That help included Rodrigues-Clark’s cousin, Neveena Ferrao, who serves as the company’s chief design officer and has built the front-end user experience for the company’s website. This included Rodrigues-Clark’s father, Lawrence Rodrigues, a former GE Healthcare product developer who serves as the company’s chief technology officer.
The team is rounded off by Sohini Sircar, a college friend of Rodrigues-Clark from Georgetown, who served as a management consultant and health policy expert for the IBM Watson health team and is the company’s chief policy officer.
Together, the team has developed a data platform that patients can use to search and find price information for medical services from nearby providers. The service can predict healthcare costs based on symptoms, diagnosis, and geography.
The company’s website has been online for over a year, but technology has become increasingly relevant in the age of COVID-19.
Just look at the case of Dr. Zachary Sussman, a doctor who worked for a network of emergency care facilities in Texas under the Physicians Premier ER banner. Dr. Sussman went to his own clinic for an antibody test – a test he knew cost about $ 8. His insurer was billed nearly $ 11,000 for the test and its administration. The provider of the test is currently being investigated.
Currently, the Clinic Price Check covers prices for approximately 3,500 of the 5,000+ hospitals in the United States and provides price comparison information for the 50 most popular services that these facilities offer. Ultimately, the company wants to cover all hospitals and emergency care facilities and provide pricing information on each service.
The company is also launching a California Financial Aid Application that will automatically determine if a patient is eligible for financial assistance in approximately 90 percent of California’s hospitals.
Despite the information about potential savings, many of the medical procedures the company provides information about are beyond the reach of many Americans who do not even have emergency funding to cover a month’s rent when faced with financial difficulties.
And much of the company’s business would disappear if America rolled out a universal health plan. “We’d like to be replaced if the government were to cap health prices,” said Rodrigues-Clark. “It is unlikely that will happen. In the meantime, we want to increase price transparency in order to push costs towards market prices. “
So the company is building even more services, including a price comparison tool that Rodrigues-Clark hopes to sell to businesses. This tool would allow employees to compare their negotiated prices with cash rates and opt out of paying the negotiated prices under insurance plans when it makes sense, Rodrigues-Clark said.
“I started this business because there was a problem in healthcare,” said Rodrigues-Clark. “If the government capped interest rates, it would be best for American consumers … If that means there is no business here, I’ll be fine.”