Medical care is not only expensive, but is also confusing to navigate. Each physician and medical facility may charge very different prices for similar procedures. So how do people know that what they are getting is the best quality of care for the lowest price?
Nicholas Ellis believes we can do better. After moving to Beavercreek from San Francisco in 2008 when he was 10, he quickly learned to adjust.
“I thought people here in Ohio were much nicer than people in California!” Ellis said. “I really started to appreciate that Dayton is one giant close community.”
After graduating from Beavercreek High School in 2016, Ellis moved to Utah and started working for a marketing agency while building various technology applications as a side gig.
“I always wanted to build software that would impact a lot of people’s lives,” Ellis said. “I was always tinkering as a kid, and I loved technology.”
Ellis built a few early apps, like one designed to help people change habits and another to help them find movies they were interested in watching. He consistently found he loved problem solving.
“Growing up, both of my parents were in health care, and I was always a very curious kid,” Ellis said. “As I grew older, I learned that finding information about anything in the health care industry was difficult.”
Eventually Ellis moved back to Ohio and took a job in Cincinnati with a technology company, but continued to think about how he could use his skills to help “average people” navigate the confusing world of health care.
In recent years, with the government discussing the Hospital Price Transparency rule, “I knew there was an opportunity,” Ellis said.
The rule, which is now in effect, forces hospitals and medical professionals to disclose their pricing. But even with this requirement, the average consumer is not able to access the information in an easy-to-use single platform.
“We wanted to make sense of it for people,” Ellis said.
Ellis said that hospitals are required to post at least 70 and up to 300 common procedures like hip replacements, X-rays and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). The rule also requires that hospitals post the costs of these in an easy-to-understand database file.
In September of last year, Ellis and a friend started building a platform that he likens to “Zillow for health care,” designed to be a single site where people can see and compare prices for health care procedures to help them make more informed decisions.
“Hospitals aren’t consistent with their pricing,” Ellis said. “And we have seen that the highest price doesn’t necessarily translate to the best care.”
“With what we’ve built, you can search dozens of local hospitals in seconds,” Ellis said.
Ellis launched Latitude Health in March of 2021. And he decided for now that they would just show cash price for each service on their platform.
“With high-deductible plans, we think it may be cheaper to pay cash for services,” Ellis said. “There are about 32 million Americans that don’t have any health insurance at all.”
To build interest in Latitude Health, Ellis said he and his partners are interviewing doctors and other professionals, as well as patients and patient advocacy groups.
“The tool is totally free for patients,” Ellis said. “The goal is to have hospitals on our platform, too, so they can say they have up-to-date and competitive pricing.”
“We want to be a one-stop shop for pricing of health care procedures,” Ellis said. “Twenty years ago, there was no Zillow or Auto Trader and it’s time for people to have this available to them. Hospitals don’t want people to price shop.”
For more information, visit golatitudehealth.com.
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