Consider the last big-ticket purchase you made. Maybe you compared prices, read reviews, and utilized online tools designed to help consumers.
Now imagine you could apply that same shopping strategy to medical services. That’s the vision of Bellevue-based startup OkCopay.
“A lack of transparency in healthcare pricing is leaving consumers in the dark about their costs, leading to wasting time, money and possibly their health,” said CEO Touré McCluskey. “The uninsured, people with gaps in their insurance coverage, and those with high deductible plans are all at risk of being overcharged for basic services.”
OkCopay functions as a search platform that allows users to filter by a variety of factors — prices, location, provider credentials, etc. Users can search by doctor or by medical service.
“Because healthcare consumers rarely know the cost of services until they receive a bill, they often overspend or avoid care altogether,” said McCluskey. “However, when consumers know the true cost of services, and can comparison shop to get the best deal, they receive better quality of care, save time and save money.”
We caught up with McCluskey for this Startup Spotlight, a regular GeekWire feature.
Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “OkCopay is Zillow for healthcare. We are an online search tool that allows you to see the prices of routine healthcare such as dental exams, eye exams and other services so you can comparison shop and save money.”
Inspiration hit us when: “A few years ago I was injured playing soccer and received an $800 bill for an ankle X-ray. I called around and learned that I could’ve had the exact same X-ray performed for only $50. I wondered why there wasn’t an easy way to see the prices of all the doctors and dentists near me. It’s absolutely insane how all of us are kept in the dark about our available options for medical care and what that care might cost us!”
VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “We bootstrapped to get started. We were also fortunate enough to win some business plan competitions and fellowships to build the initial product. This forced us to stay lean and scrappy. Now that our model is working across 16 major cities, we are raising an angel round to allow us to grow faster.”
Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “We are ‘special ops’ data detectives. Our ability to unearth hidden prices is what sets OkCopay apart from other websites that provide just basic contact information about doctors.”
The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Moving to Seattle. This region has a strong and helpful startup ecosystem and is just great place to live.”
The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “Early on we focused too much on adding new features. Our users were faced with too many choices (which is not a good thing). Now simplicity is one of our core principals.”
Would you rather have Gates, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “Bill Gates is the best fit to lend us a hand. He has a clear passion for finding innovations that broaden access to needed medical services.”
Our favorite team-building activity is: “NOT talking about work all the time.”
The biggest thing we look for when hiring is: “Passion … because revolutionizing a slow-moving industry is not easy. There are a lot of frustrations, so you really need to love this stuff.”
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Take care of yourself, physically and emotionally.”