Amino augments care comparison app with cost ratings

By Dave Muoio

San Francisco-based Amino has added a new cost ratings functionality to its online healthcare marketplace platform. Employers and employees subscribed to the paid version of Amino’s service, Amino Plus, will be able to compare the cost of treatment, surgery, and now chronic care with each nearby provider, and gauge these against the app’s previously implemented care quality ratings.

“Across all 1,000 search terms that we support on Amino, we allow the ability to see cost ratings at the facility level … no matter what your search is, even if it’s for a really significant chronic condition,” Amino CEO and cofounder David Vivero said on stage at the Health 2.0 Fall Conference in Santa Clara, during an onstage interview with health economist and blogger Jane Sarasohn-Kahn. “This cost ratings allows us to give people a sense of their cost, even if it’s [an area] where we don’t support specific episode estimates, like [we would for] vasectomy or ACL surgery or so forth.”

Vivero’s company uses big data to match consumers with their preferred medical provider. Amino pulls deidentified data on patient experiences and costs from billions of commercial and Medicare insurance claims, and uses these to paint a geographic landscape of provider facilities, their quality of care, and their price ratings for specific conditions on a one-to-four dollar sign scale.

“Amino’s goal is to create the clearest picture of American health care and connect people to the best possible care,” Vivero told MobiHealthNews. “We do that through our free resources for consumers, meeting people where they are out on the web, and giving them access to information about the cost and quality of their care.”

The functionality is now available for Amino Plus subscribers alongside the premium service’s other personalized features, which includes real-time access to deductible information, accumulators, and other contextual benefits. The advanced service is purchased by the patient’s employer, Vivero explained, positioning Amino as an ideal consumer resource for the two parties primarily footing the bill.

“Philosophically underpinning Amino is that there are only two groups who can’t pass the buck at all in health care: it’s the consumer … and those employers, and unfortunately that’s also coming out of people’s paychecks,” he said. “Our goal is to carry a clear picture, and the challenge with episode-level costs is that sometimes there aren’t really episodes of care … We now can give access to that information with a tap of your thumb.”

Vivero said that the service currently covers thousands of urgent care clinics, hospitals, and other health care facilities in the US. Amino supports nearly all of the country’s major health insurance plans, and also incorporates several other variables such as age and geographic location when serving its calculations. Vivero said that these tools can be extremely important to patients in every instance of care, but are especially necessary for those navigating long-term treatment within today’s opaque healthcare landscape.

“You’re about to engage in a very deep, probably recurring relationship with a provider of care,” he said. “Just having that dollar sign can tell you if you’ve chosen a subscription that’s super expensive, or a subscription that for the money is just as effective, but is not going to put you out thousands of dollars.”

Amino announced in April that it had raised $25 million in Series C funding, which they said would be used to court new stakeholder partners, such as consumer advocacy groups. Their cost comparison tool first launched in 2016.