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What Can The Travel Industry Teach The Health Industry About Data?

Submitted by on March 8, 2011 – 12:20 pm6 Comments

Last week I became curious about how sites like Travelocity and Orbitz get their information. When I think about all of the different flights, times, locations and prices that I can access in real time with a few clicks of a mouse, it makes me wonder why something equivalent doesn’t exist between Doctors and Insurance companies. You know, like when you need to be referred and nobody can instantly tell you who you can be referred to based on your insurance…

That problem seems like it should be easily fixable, with a large database, like the one the travel industry has created for itself. Here is how it works for the airlines, via FareCompare:

How Travel Data Flows

The relationship between the individual airlines and the ATPCO database is the one that I’m most interested in, as that seems to be how the entire system is able to work in real time. The big difference being that airlines are incentivized to push their data into the system so that end users can purchase tickets. They may also be getting money from the ATPCO for the data, as well. The point is, airlines make money by being part of this system…

So could insurance companies make or save money by establishing a system like this for their provider networks?

Thinking about all of the hands that an out of network bill must touch, the anxiety these types of bills place on their members, and the effort involved in resolving disputes might be an incentive for health insurance companies to be a part of a system like this one. However, I don’t think that would be enough to actually build it. I’ve identified one problem that this type of system could solve, but perhaps there are more. Problems that third parties could build businesses around to supplement its development…

Any other ways that insurance/provider data could be used to make or save money?

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