Trivago for Healthcare

We’ve all seen the Trivago guy on TV. He’s prematurely gray, unshaven and his clothes are always a little rumpled. But he always gets the best deals on the best hotels. 

The key to using Trivago effectively is to combine different filters to maximize the value of your vacation. For instance, if you sort by price, you’ll get low prices, but you may receive matches with terrible reviews. Meanwhile, if you tap the dark green face with the wide smile, you’ll get only hotel choices with the highest ratings from other consumers. But the site will show you hotels with prices all over the map.

The key is to click on both the dark green smiley face and select “focus on price”. This combination will yield a small group of high-quality hotels in order of price. Once a hotel is chosen, Trivago routes users to whichever hotel booking site is offering the best deal for that hotel. Because why would anyone want to pay more than they have to for the same hotel room?

Unfortunately, when it comes to healthcare, many employers are doing just that—paying too much for care when they could get a better price for comparable quality. Or they may be paying lower prices for poor care. These choices are both unacceptable.

The U.S. pays more for healthcare than any other country in the world. A recent comparison by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development found that per capita spending by the U.S. on health care was $8,713 per person in 2013, compared with an average of $3,453 among 34 developed countries. Meanwhile, a study by the Commonwealth Fund found that the U.S. performed worst overall on a variety of quality measures, among a group of 11 of the most developed countries.

Among the most economically advanced countries, we are paying the most for the worst care. The U.S. also has the highest percentage of its healthcare paid for privately of any of the 34 nations in the OECD group—52 percent versus an average of 27 percent. 

The hard truth is that more than half of the cost burden for American healthcare falls on employers and workers, and they are being taken for a ride.

Employers who contract with insurers to provide wide panel PPO plans to their workers are like consumers who don’t apply any filters when they use Trivago. In vacation terms, that means choosing from a list of 592 hotel choices in Cancun, with widely varying prices and reviews. But are they real choices, if some are $1000 per night and others have reviews describing bedbugs and dirty bathrooms?

Employers need a smiley face button that will deliver only the best quality healthcare choices – like the 44 Cancun hotels that received the highest score on Trivago’s consumer reviews. And they need to know which great providers have the lowest prices.

But this kind of transparency is just the first step. It’s an important part of Trivago’s value, but it’s not the differentiator. What makes the site unique is that it definitively tells consumers what the best deal is, and drives them to the site with the lowest price on the best hotel, whether it is,, Expedia or others. From there, the consumer can pay for the hotel room, confident that it’s the best price available for the best hotel.

There has been no Trivago for healthcare, until now. Transparency tools have so far failed to drive significant patient volume to the highest quality providers. And since there has been no mass patient exodus from underperforming providers and hospitals, quality across the board is not rising quickly.

But now, Imagine Health has stepped in to vet the quality of hospitals and doctors, and to choose only those with the highest quality scores to offer to our employer partners. Imagine will negotiate with these high quality providers and facilities and then offer the best prices to employers. The result is a high performance healthcare team—the best doctors at the best prices. Those are real choices that both employers and workers can feel confident about spending their hard-earned money on.  

Rick AbbottComment