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New online health care model expands to Bellevue

Sprig Health links providers with customers in an online network expected to make scheduling and paying for appointments, easier on patients. - Sprig Health
Sprig Health links providers with customers in an online network expected to make scheduling and paying for appointments, easier on patients.
— image credit: Sprig Health

A new online health care marketplace will expand into Seattle and Bellevue in the coming months. Sprig Health links providers with patients, in a web-based network that hopes to provide an alternative model for accessing health care.

“Individuals want immediate access. They want convenience,” said company president Kris Gorriarán. “And they want to know what they’re getting upfront.”

Under the Sprig Health model, customers are directed to a website where they can customize their search according to appointment date and the type of service needed. Care ranges from lab testing to dermatology visits. After scheduling, customers are given a rough appraisal for the cost of their appointment. Because administrative costs are greatly reduced under the online model, many providers offer savings of up to 20 to 50 percent.

The advantage, said Dr. Andrew Appelbaum and his wife Michele, of Overlake Family Medicine, is better access to primary care. Uninsured and cash-paying patients are more likely to schedule appointments, reducing the need for emergency services further out.

“Health care is changing dramatically,” said Dr. Appelbaum. “There’s a need to find different health care systems and this is just one that’s popping up.”

Sprig Health was founded in February of 2011, and formally launched in November of last year. Since then it’s been met with much excitement by providers like Overlake Family Medicine. The Appelbaums haven’t received any patients through Sprig Health, but predict that the services will be well suited to the fast-paced, tech-savvy nature of the city. They expect to charge between $80 and $120 for a basic visit under Sprig Health.

Already in Seattle, the company’s network has more than 60 providers signed on.

Sprig only recently launched in Bellevue, but Portland demographics suggest that it targets a wide spectrum, ranging from young professionals, to patients between the ages of 55 and 65, many of whom are uninsured and have preexisting conditions. Gorriarán remembers the story of a woman who, thanks to Sprig, had her first mammogram in seven years. It’s that type of preventive care, that she believes Sprig embodies and promotes.

“It’s a very innovative and unique product, in keeping with where we live,” she said.

Gorriarán added that such models will become increasingly relevant under health care reform. All Americans will be required to have coverage by 2014, or face penalties.

“Whether patients are insured or [uninsured] you’re going to need to shop for services,” she explained. “What we’re doing, is we’re looking for an alternative. We want to simplify the health care model.”

Most of all, say the Applebaums, Sprig empowers patients by allowing them to shop for prices, providers and appointment times, which can make going to the doctor less of an ordeal.

If the model proves successful in Washington, Gorriarán says she’d like to eventually expand it nationally. For more information, visit the company’s website at sprighealth.com.

 

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