Which is worse? Finding out that you have to undergo surgery or finding out how much the surgery will cost you?
If you’re like me, the cost is probably worse. Now, imagine if you could hop online and find a doctor with equivalent skill, equipment, and knowledge in another country that will do the procedure for a fraction of the cost. That is the premise behind Chicago based start-up HuliHealth, whose goal is to enable people to find, contact, and book appointments with doctors anywhere in the world.
There are many reasons people travel for medical care and they all stem from the fact that each country has specific healthcare market inefficiencies (costs, long waiting periods, lack of local expertise, lack of technology, etc.) [See InfoGraphic]
Alejandro Vega, co-founder and CEO, said, “HuliHealth aims to connect any person in the world to any doctor in the world. Believe it or not, the medical travel industry currently works just as the travel agency industry worked 15-20 years ago. In order to travel overseas, people must contact a medical tourism facilitator to set up their trip. These brokers exacerbate the inefficiencies and lack of transparency that currently exist in the doctor selection process. Our goal is to conceive the next generation of medical travel, where people from the U.S. and other countries will be able to use HuliHealth to find a doctor that fits their needs.”
HuliHealth’s web based system, which is still under development, will allow users to:
- Search an international list of doctors and dentists by specialty and/or procedure in order to find a subset of doctors/dentists who can meet their specific treatment needs;
- Evaluate each doctor based on patient reviews, credentials, and cost;
- Contact their selected doctors and discuss individual treatment options;
- Make an appointment for free with his or her chosen doctor;
- Communicate for the full duration of the treatment process, from pre-procedure consultation to post-procedure follow-up care.
HuliHealth plans to generate revenue by receiving commission from doctors and related providers and therefore offer a free platform for users. The team of 7 members (5 full time and 2 part time) are currently working to complete a prototype of the website and have been receiving guidance from Bernhard Kappe of Pathfinder, a Chicago-based software development firm. An initial beta test of the prototype with a few doctors is expected before the product is fully launched.
When it comes to healthcare everyone knows there will be some concerns over privacy and objectiveness. However, Vega assured me that the HuliHealth team is addressing compliance and transparency hurdles before these become an issue. With these issues addressed, HuliHealth may change the way we find healthcare providers.
HuliHealth, which began in March 2011, raised roughly $100,000 in May 2011 from college classmates and industry experts.
Although HuliHealth is still in development, launch is expected in the upcoming months. Check out www.HuliHealth.com for more information.