PokitDok CEO touts value of APIs, makes clearinghouse services free

By Jonah Comstock
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PokitDokAt the Health 2.0 event this week, Lisa Maki, the CEO of PokitDok, surprised the crowd by announcing from the stage that the company would no longer charge for its clearinghouse services, including checking eligibility, checking the status of a deductible, submitting a claim, checking claim status, transmitting benefit of enrollment data, getting a pre-authorization, and getting a referral.

"Back in 1998 when companies ... were first bringing health systems online, it was expensive. They had to build rails, they had to do a lot of legwork, and they charged you for it. But today, using modern technology we’ve re-built those rails using the same kind of technology you see behind Amazon and iTunes, and using cloud services which is massively less expensive. So the cost of moving data from point A to point B and automating what used to be done with a lot of legacy technology is close to zero. We want to start passing that savings back to all of you."

PokitDok, which offers a healthcare price comparison tool and API-based tools for healthcare developers, raised $34 million in August.

Speaking with Tim Hays of the Wall Street Journal, Maki made the case that API-based business models would take off in healthcare the same way they have in other industries.

"A great example is Amazon," she said. "Jeff Bezos, when he first sold you a book, had to connect a small book seller, a transportation company and a payment company. And when he first did that those were all disparate systems that had to be connected, which he ultimately did with software. And when he perfected it, he released it as a group of APIs we now call Amazon Web Services. When you use Uber, you’re using APIs of several different companies. Uber just combined them into a user experience."

PokitDok's APIs will be especially valuable to the growth of the industry, she said, because they help level the playing field for smaller startups.

"We allow Doctor on Demand to connect to any insurer anywhere in the country on day one," she said. "Imagine the cost savings and the scale that means for that young company. So you’re going to see a lot more of that: New solutions showing up in the market because they can. They can get to scale, they can get to market quickly and cost effectively. We have over 2,400 applications on our platform today. That’s what excites me, people putting these services together in ways we can’t even imagine."