(Image courtesy of Sibi Health)
There’s nothing quite like a global health crisis to make you acutely aware of the challenges our current healthcare system faces.
It’s what healthcare marketplace Sibi Health’s founder, Catherine Bryt, has realized in the last few months as she’s officially launched the startup. Bryt, a former New Yorker who moved to Philadelphia to get her MBA at Wharton, used to work within the healthcare system (and spent some time uninsured).
“I saw the inter-workings of the healthcare system, and I saw how prices were set,” she told Technical.ly. “I also saw a lot of inefficiencies.”
So, in early 2020, she officially launched Sibi, an online marketplace for self-employed people and small businesses to find local doctors offering transparent prices for care. The goal is to make finding and paying for healthcare simple, and prices as upfront as possible. There’s no attending an appointment and getting a bill with mysterious prices later on, Bryt said.
“It’s a marketplace and exchange of value for service. You’d never buy a shirt, hoping you can afford it, take it home and then the store sends you the bill later,” she said. “We’re trying to make it make a bit more sense for patients.”
And while the appeal for patients is that they know up-front how much a telehealth or in-person appointment, scan or test will cost, there’s clear value for physicians, too, Bryt said. Her previous experience in the revenue management side of healthcare taught her that doctor’s offices and hospitals spend a lot of time, money and resources managing the flow of money between patients, insurance and their institutions.
On the Sibi marketplace, patients can view types of care like mental health, primary care or pediatrics. Available doctors are listed along with their price for care, and patients can book appointments on the platform. By working with Sibi, Bryt said, doctors can determine what services should actually cost (not what insurance tells them it needs to cost) and they can cut down on all the resources dedicated to payment.
Currently, the marketplace is focusing on connecting patients and doctors in the Philadelphia area and is garnered toward uninsured people. If you have insurance, you can still use Sibi, then submit the cost as a claim to your health insurance later. Sometimes, it can be cheaper to just pay for a visit out of pocket than going through insurance, depending on your situation, Bryt said.
The startup’s biggest challenge right now is the same as many other startups — onboarding clients. The marketplace has about 20 or so doctors signed up and ready for patients right now, but Bryt recognized that because of the pandemic, many healthcare centers are either overwhelmed or closed to nonemergency cases. Nevertheless, she’s been cold-calling healthcare providers to introduce Sibi.
It’s currently Bryt and a medical advisor working on the startup, but come Tuesday, she’s gaining two people who will be focusing on the provider side and patient acquisition side of the company. Sibi won Wharton’s Summer Venture Award, a $10,000 award meant to allow students to focus their summer on their business ventures. This summer, the team will be focusing on testing the model and finding product market fit, the founder said. If that’s successful, they might start fundraising later in the year.
As a first-time entrepreneur, it’s been difficult enough building a company without the added concerns of the pandemic, Bryt said. But it’s proved to her that there’s a need for alternative options for healthcare.
“COVID has made me more sure we need something like Sibi Health, especially as people are cost-conscious and need care,” Bryt said. “I just really believe that this needs to exist, pandemic or not.”
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