Substance abuse and eating disorders are two very important issues that aren’t discussed much here at Nibletz. But with the explosion of startups across the country, Los Angeles-based entrepreneur Michael Sigal wanted to attack those issues.
Bookyourcare.com is an online marketplace to find care provider from the comfort and privacy of your own home. They concentrate their service providers in areas of substance abuse, eating disorders, and other more sensitive health, medical, and mental health areas. Bookyourcare.com didn’t just use a directory API because Sigal thinks transparency and safety are two very important areas when it comes to health-related issues like these. That’s why they are curating all of their service providers in person to help build better profiles and ratings and make the end user experience easy for those looking for these types of services. Often times when seeking out treatment for substance abuse issues and eating disorders, emotions are running on high. That’s why it was important to make Bookyourcare.com as easy to use as possible and at the same time, as robust and knowledge filled as possible.
We got a chance to interview Sigal, check out the interview below:
What is your startup called?
My company is called BookYourCare.com. I wanted a name that precisely represented the service we’re providing to the consumer.
What does your company do?
BookYourCare is the first digital marketplace in the United States for healthcare. Our specific focus is on the huge and largely unregulated substance abuse and eating disorder treatment industry.
To accomplish this we’re bringing together the free market, transparency and consumerism to healthcare services.
We physically visit treatment facilities and execute a rigorous evaluation and analysis of what is provided and then share that unbiased information with our audience. Information is power and our goal is to supply the facts so people can make better informed choices in regards to a potentially life-saving decision and avoid questionable or unscrupulous facilities.
We’ve also included an online bidding and auction program to help keep costs down which works much the same way as someone bidding on a stay at the Four Seasons or an eBay auction.
Who are the founders, and what are their backgrounds
I, Michael Sigal, founded BookYourCare.com following my serving as the Senior Vice President of TMP Worldwide which was then the parent company of Monster.com. I have three partners with professional backgrounds in substance abuse, health and security industries.
Where are you based?
BookYourCare.com is based on Torrance, California.
What’s the startup scene like where you are based?
Los Angeles has always been known as a town where big dreams come true. There is an active community here for entrepreneurs to seek advice and workshop ideas. But given the nature of online startups I think it’s more about where you choose to live than it is about proximity to new audiences. That said, Los Angeles County has the highest percentage of treatment facilities in the nation so our work does have a “local” component.
What problem do you solve?
To date, people seeking substance abuse or eating disorder treatment had two avenues to explore in their research. They could search online where they were met by the marketing claims of the facilities themselves, sometimes untrue, or they could rely on word of mouth. Considering that in 2014 the industry is expecting to see $34 Billion in revenue I found it shocking that unbiased information was not made available, particularly to people who are typically in a highly emotional state and prone to the “hard sell” when they talk to the “closers” at many of these facilities.
The other component of BookYourCare is to help keep costs down for the consumer while also helping facilities increase occupancy. We’ve done this by implementing an online bidding and auction service. This allows consumers to set their own price and facilities to either accept or decline that price. Beyond the cost, patients also benefit as it’s been shown that more active group programs help with recovery. And because the traffic flow in treatment centers often comes in waves, should a facility find itself with a bed or two open it’s in their best interest to accept a reasonable bid.
Substance abuse and eating disorders are skyrocketing yet as a country we seem to take an “Out of sight, Out of mind” approach to recovery. The treatment industry has seen revenue jumps of 55% since just 2005 and with the Affordable Care Act folding in substance abuse and mental health treatments we know the demand will increase. Our role is to meld the free market, transparency and consumerism and apply that to healthcare services. Our goal is to help people find wellness.
What are some of the milestones your startup has already reached?
We knew going in that what we are tackling was a time-consuming process. Physically visiting facilities and analyzing them in the way we do, which includes everything from programs offered and staff experience to facility security, past business records, licenses and more, this meant we couldn’t just flip a switch. We beta-launched to California consumers about 3 months ago with analysis provided on roughly 50 facilities. During this period we are testing functionality of the website as well as marketing and making adjustments before going to full launch. Our team is constantly analyzing new facilities with the goal of expanding our reach nationwide.
What are your next milestones?
The response of the treatment community has been overwhelmingly positive as has the response from consumers who recognize that we’re acting as an advocate for them. Our next step is the successful completion of our California beta at which time we’ll begin our national rollout. We’re confident this is a milestone we’ll reach.
Where can people find out more?
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Sounds very promising. Congratulations!
Im not sure that having people bid on treatment is a way to lift up the industry…. If anything it seems that it will cheapen the industry even more. Essentially the program that takes the lowest bids wins.. but will they be the one to provide the best care????bidding for treatment will make it a even more cut throat industry then it already is… I cant see this being supported in the treatment industry.. not by the reputable programs anyway…Bidding for treatment….. just disgusting… I do agree there needs to be more regulation but this is not going to accomplish that… it will make it worse rather then better. I also would like to know how Book Your Care gets paid? By the program that gets the client or from the client who is searching for treatment? if from either it border on patient brokering. This need to be though through a little better…..
Becky, only best programs that are inspected, reviewed, and rated are accepted by BookYourCare. We do that first, and that is a given. We are a consumer advocate. And what is wrong with helping people to get treatment that they need at a lower price?