A new website designed to “bridge the gap” between patients and providers has launched in New Zealand.

Australian dentist Myles Holt has created the site, which allows professionals to tender for patients.

The concept was developed while he was looking at ways to grow his own practice.

“I’m an entrepreneur at heart. I was looking at ways to grow my own practice and how to overcome traditional barriers,” he said.

“Providers are often restricted to geographic area and it restricts the growth of their practice.”

He had been using marketplace type websites for other areas of his life, and wondered how it could benefit healthcare.

The resulting idea, Tender Healthcare, allows patients to outline their health needs, budget and willingness to travel for treatment.

“People have busy lives. You often don’t have time to run around and get second opinions.”

Once a patient’s case had been uploaded, providers can tender for it.

“It’s not a bidding war. Providers can’t see what others have tendered. Contact details are shared only when the patient accepts the tender.”

The website helped “bridge the gap” between patients and providers, Holt said.

“We know that cost and quality varies dramatically across providers. Even just around the block in Auckland, it can be completely different.”

The site could also help people living in rural and regional areas, he said.

“There are often no other options for treatment nearby. Patients don’t have the time to drive an hour or two to get a second opinion that may not be any better in the first place.”

Holt said the more patients can be informed, the better the outcomes for everyone.

“One things we weren’t expecting to see was in referrals. We’ve seen GPs and patients work together to create a case looking for specialists and they’ve discovered specialists they didn’t even know were in the area.”

The platform was not solely “patient-centric,” Holt said.

“This is a true marketplace. There are benefits to both patients and providers.”

Professionals pay an annual fee to access the site, while patients can use it for free.

“It is low cost marketing for practices and it really focuses the marketing spend. You get motivated patients, you gain patients you wouldn’t normally have access to.”

The launch of the online health marketplace follows a growing trend to move healthcare online.

Patient ‘portals’, such as ManageMyHealth, allow people access to their health information wherever there is an internet connection. Patients can access lab results, immunisation records, allergies, prescriptions and medical records. It also provides online tools to improve their health, track their progress, and email their practice team.

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