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Symcat introduces a new way to shop for healthcare
“The new features are the logical next step for patients looking for answers,” says Symcat CEO Craig Monsen, MD. “When you have symptoms you want to know more than what you might have, you also want to learn about best treatments and next steps. Symcat has pulled together a broad array of data on treatments and providers to help you make the best decisions possible.”
Acknowledging that patients are paying a greater proportion of their health care bills than ever before, Symcat uses pricing data to predict what patients can expect to pay for a procedure or treatment.
“Symcat has the potential to change the way we seek care by putting the patient back in control,” says Brad Weinberg, MD, an expert on digital health. “Patients with high deductibles, those seeking out-of-network care, or those without insurance want to be informed before they pay for medical services, and Symcat gives them the information they need.”
Symcat’s new app comes at a time when many patients struggle to compare the cost and quality of healthcare providers. One hospital might charge 10 times as much as another for a given operation, and the patient cannot tell the difference until they get the bill. These charges are often reduced through bargaining by the patient’s insurance company, but for uninsured patients or patients who go out of network for care, cost is a critical factor.
Beyond cost, consumers must also evaluate provider quality. Rare is the individual who is shopping for a truly cut-rate knee replacement surgery. But how can average consumers determine the best hospitals or physicians for the procedures they need?
“Traditionally, patients have relied on word of mouth or trusting another physician’s referral,” says David Do, MD, Symcat’s CTO. “While these are undoubtedly useful sources of information, they lack the broad scope and systematic rigor to ensure that patients identify high-quality providers.”
Symcat addresses these issues by combining diverse datasets into a single app. When a user looks for care, Symcat’s algorithm looks for nearby providers and displays cost and quality metrics (e.g. how many of the procedures that provider does in a year). Users can then compare cost to quality to determine the best option.
Despite the enormous amount of data Symcat relies on, the site delivers a simple, intuitive interface requiring little or no experience with healthcare. Users enter their symptoms and review paths for care using a straightforward wizard.
What’s next for Symcat? The team is setting its sights on partnerships with insurers and health networks to allow users to estimate their out-of-pocket costs and better plan their care.
“Imagine entering the symptoms you’re experiencing and instantly being able to see what you might have and the most cost-effective options given your insurance coverage,” says Monsen. “Merging medical history and insurance information in one place will make sure patients can discover for themselves how to quickly get the right care at the right place.”
Symcat (http://www.symcat.com) is empowering consumers to become pilots of their own health care. Using Symcat’s data-driven algorithms available through web and mobile, patients can research potential diagnoses, learn about medications they are taking or might take, and find appropriate care. Founded by a team of physicians, developers, and data scientists, Symcat has won over $100,000 from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and health plan Cigna as well as received funding from experienced healthcare investors. They are working with healthcare stakeholders including health plans and integrated care delivery systems to help patients navigate the healthcare maze.