CBA partners with start-up Whitecoat - the 'TripAdvisor of healthcare'
Nov 29 2018 at 4:04 PM by Carrie LaFrenz
Commonwealth Bank has invested in Australian medical technology start-up, Whitecoat, as it looks to get its share of the $180 billion-plus healthcare payments market in Australia. Dubbed the "TripAdvisor of healthcare", Whitecoat is an online directory of doctors, surgeons, dentists and other practitioners that allows consumers to leave reviews based on their service experience.
It was launched in 2013, and by mid-December will have reached 1 million reviews. Whitecoat is already backed by health funds, NIB, BUPA, HBF and CBHS Health.
CommBank Health Claim, a new product offering for patients and healthcare providers, combines app- based architecture with wireless connectivity to CBA's Albert merchant terminals.
Via a single platform, and using their mobile devices, patients can approve payments and claims initiated by their provider, read moderated reviews, book appointments and request cost estimates.
The fresh partnership comes as the bank looks to get more involved in the digital ecosystems of business customers, as payments become more deeply embedded in services arranged over smartphones.
"We see this as a ground-breaking proposition that links together not just traditional claiming solutions for a provider, but integrates an ecosystem of the patients, the providers and the bank and public and private insurance companies in a digital solution that provides significant benefits to all those in the ecosystem," said CBA business and private banking group executive Adam Bennett.
CBA did not disclose the size of its investment, only to say it was a "strategic and significant proposition" that was developed over the past 18 months.
Rivals National Australia Bank and Westpac have already invested in the health start-up space. NAB Ventures in 2017 invested in Medipass Solutions, a new company created from the start-up Localz, which will roll out a customer-facing application for booking health services. Westpac took an equity stake in Surgical Partners, which has built software for GPs and specialist doctors to help them integrate medical services payments with their own accounting systems. Whitecoat CEO Matthew Donnellan said his company was designed to improve the choice and transparency of healthcare, and overall care, for all Australians - no matter what insurance or schemes they held. He said adding payments was a natural extension to its offer.
"We think the scope of this reach is without precedent in Australia," he told The Australian Financial Review. "We are not just covering private health insurance or Medicare payments we also have an ambition to cover all various schemes.
"Next year in Australia non-Medicare schemes are going to represent $50 billion in annualised payments so when you consider things like the National Disability Insurance Scheme or National Redress Scheme for victims of sexual abuse and the various states' schemes for workers' compensation - we are talking about something that touches every Australian."
CBA is investing in its healthcare capabilities within its private banking division, including adding more healthcare bankers and offering more tailored propositions like CommBank Claim to better service the sector.
"We think this proposition has relevance to all of the sub-sectors within the healthcare industry," said Mr Bennett.
"We will be looking to integrate more patient management systems, and technologies used by those providers, over time."
Mr Donnellan said he would like to get to a point where Australians know as much about their health and healthcare as they do about other facets of their lives.
He added that Whitecoat wants to be a trusted source of information, "not a popularity contest", when addressing the process of reviews.
"We have to do this in a way that is ethical at the same time which allows consumers to have their say," he added.
Comments are moderated against guidelines put out by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency. "Where a patient leaves a comment on a review, if it does not meet those guidelines then that comment gets removed. We never ever edit comments," Mr Donnellan said.
The technology is currently in pilot phase, and will officially launch to the market in February 2019.
30 Nov 2018