Whitecoat Health Service Directory

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Whitecoat Health Service Directory is Australia’s largest online directory of healthcare professionals.[1] It was developed and launched in 2013. [2] The service is available to all Australians and allows consumers to rate their experience of a healthcare provider and read other users’ recommendations and reviews.[3]

Overview[edit]

Whitecoat provides contact details and ratings information for more than 210,000 Australian healthcare providers[4] across 25 different provider types, including dentists, optometrists, and physiotherapists.[4] Along with providing publicly-available contact details for different healthcare providers, the Whitecoat website carries ratings information regarding availability, listening skills, explanation of treatment and likelihood to recommend as well as comments from customers about their overall service experience.[4] Reviews are sourced from Whitecoat users as well as members of affiliated private health insurers who have been provided with a billable service from the provider.[3] It hosts more than 250,000 customer reviews and while the platform now includes allied healthcare providers such as dentists, physiotherapists, and general practitioners, it is looking to expand to include medical specialists.[5] The site has been likened to being the 'Trip Advisor' of the healthcare sector.[6]

History[edit]

The site was originally launched in 2013 by NIB Health Funds to allow their members to easily search and compare healthcare providers, in response to ongoing customer demand for better information about healthcare providers.[7] The site collates reviews from clients that use their associated providers.[8] Previously the website only allowed NIB health insurance members to leave reviews, despite all Australians being able to read these recommendations.[3]

In July 2016, Bupa and HBF signed a heads of agreement to join nib as investors and participants in expanding the Whitecoat healthcare provider platform.[5][9] With the participation by Bupa and HBF along with foundation investor nib, Whitecoat will increase its reach to approximately six million Australians.[5][9] Also in 2016, Whitecoat announced its plans to provide consumers with cost transparency of medical procedures on its website, as a result of 2014-15 NIB claims data that revealed significant fee variations paid to medical specialists, which left consumers with out-of-pocket costs.[10] At the same time, Whitecoat announced it would also allow consumers to book and pay for treatment through the website.[11]

In the Media[edit]

Whitecoat was featured in the Australian Financial Review where audiences were updated on current progress of Whitecoat within the health industry. Whitecoat CEO Matthew Donnellan commented on increasingly high out-of-pocket costs from insurance funds, warning people to "get used to it and go online".[12] He stated that "up to 85 per cent of people do not even ask how much they will pay out-of-pocket for surgery until they are admitted as inpatients. By the time they are in hospital for a shoulder reconstruction or retinal surgery it is too late to start haggling over the bill" The joint venture between nib, Bupa and HBF is said to allow patients and GP's scheduling a course of treatment to know well in advance just how much a hospital will charge out-of-pocket against a specific health insurance policy. Donnellan commented on this issue following a tirade against the private health insurance industry by Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten. He stated "Prices are up, profits are up, quality and value are down. Australian's are paying a lot more for their health insurance policies and getting a lot less". A decade ago exclusions and out-of-pocket costs was apparent for approximately 9 per cent of private health funds, this figure has increased to 40 per cent as of 2018. Donnellan highlighted that Whitecoat aims to help consumers deal with the reality of these increasing payments burdened on Australians.[12]

The Australian Financial Review published an article titled 'Talking to a Doctor is a Two-Way Conversation' with content produced by The Australian Financial Review in Commercial Partnership with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.[13] Matthew Donnellan commented, "Health is like oxygen; when there's lots of it about nobody cares. But when there's not much about no one cares about much else. Consumers want to treat healthcare in exactly the way they treat every other aspect of life." Donnellan was hinting at the ridiculous notion of having to present a healthcare card in hope of finding out you're covered - in 2017. "I can sit here now and book a trip around the world including all my flights, accommodation and transfers and yet that's easier to do than a referral pathway to see a surgeon. And there is nothing more important in my life when I need an operation, than that operation." In 2018 Whitecoat will release a new data system to GPs that will provide them with a participating surgeon or specialists' availability and average out-of-pocket procedures, regardless of their 'no gap' or 'gap' status. Development of Whitecoat in 2018 aims "to be more transparent not just for patients, but for GP's who can have all the criteria they need in 10 seconds".[13]

Business Development[edit]

As of 2018 Whitecoat has 65,000 health care providers listed on its website, including 16,000 Specialists and 11,000 General Practitioners. As of 2018 Whitecoat has between 4 and 5 million visitors per year and 575,000 moderated reviews from patients. These offer future patients their opinions and perspectives on listed healthcare professionals. Apps that have been developed will be released in early-mid 2018. Two apps, MyWhitecoat for patients and Whitecoat Pro for healthcare professionals. Resulting will be a cardless, cashless payment system that allows healthcare professionals to process health fund payments and gap payments right there and then, through a mobile app.

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "1st Available ASX Announcement", "Australian Stock Exchange", Retrieved 23 March 2016
  2. ^ "New Website Whitecoat Lets NIB Users Compare Physiotherapists, Dentists and Chiropractors", "News.com.au", Retrieved 23 March 2016
  3. ^ a b c "nib Launches Whitecoat Website, Draws Professional Anger", "Bite Magazine", Retrieved 23 March 2016
  4. ^ a b c "Health Disruption to Health Care - by Health Funds and Major Investors", "i2p News", Retrieved 23 March 2016
  5. ^ a b c "Media Release - 29th July 2016", Retrieved 4 August 2016
  6. ^ Ltd, Australian News Channel Pty. "Bupa, HBF join 'trip advisor' health platform". Retrieved 2016-10-25.
  7. ^ "Doctors See Red Over Whitecoat Website", "Financial Review", Retrieved 23 March 2016
  8. ^ Binsted, Tim. "Nib puts the heat on surgeons by exposing varied surgery fees". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 23 March 2016.
  9. ^ a b "Bupa, HBF join nib's Whitecoat website ahead of roll out of surgeon reviews", Retrieved 4 August 2016
  10. ^ Binsted, Tim (2016-02-14). "Nib puts the heat on surgeons by exposing varied surgery fees". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2016-10-26.
  11. ^ Alexander, Harriet (2016-07-29). "Specialists exposed in new doctor rating website". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2016-10-25.
  12. ^ a b "Australian Financial Review", "How to Deal with Junk Health Insurance", Retrieved 23 February 2018
  13. ^ a b "Australian Financial Review", "Talking to a Doctor is a Two Way Conversation", Retrieved 23 February 2018