Vitals CEO Mitch Rothschild says his doctor search website is like the Google of healthcare.
The site, which uses an extensive database to provide local doctor information and user guides that help customers prepare for their visit, has tons of useful and customizable data that aim to improve the consumer experience.
"Our culture is one of trying to bring the consumer sensibilities into the healthcare world, which completely doesn’t think that way," says Rothschild.
Vitals has spiders that crawl the Web, searching hundreds of medical websites for data about healthcare providers, like the insurance they accept, their specialty, awards they've received and even the languages they speak, so patients can get a clear picture of their doctor before they even set foot in their office.
According to Rothschild, most people don't even know if their doctor has a website because they've never even thought to check. As a result, patients don't know what to expect when they choose a physician or dentist.
"We take advantage of this gap in the marketplace in that there is a huge amount of information online that people post about themselves that is public information like the insurance you expect, your expertise, the school you went to," says Rothschild.
And the ideas for expansion are almost always coming at Vitals.
"The good thing about our business is that everyone has been a patient at one time, so we’re constantly coming up with ideas," says Rothschild. "Our culture is one of ongoing curiosity."
Vitals sponsors "idea lunches" regularly to develop new ideas for the site. Each is based on a particular area of expansion or new feature, and employees who believe they have a great idea can sign up for up to about 12 spots. It works so well that they are usually oversubscribed and people even suggest their own idea lunches if they have something big.
One of their current projects is a tool that will predict how much your doctor visit will cost before you go, based on the services you require.
Rothschild, who has founded and grown several other companies before Vitals, says a big part of entrepreneurial success is intellectual curiosity. One of the ways he comes up with ideas for his business is to look at everyday activities and ask himself, "Is there a different way to do this? And if there is, who benefits from making it better?"
"We live in a great society, in which there are just so many ways there are things that are not done well," says Rothschild.
Their commitment to adding new functions to their website has gotten Vitals a huge customer base that's established them as one of the top players in their market and placed them at 122 on Inc.'s list of 5000 Fastest Growing Companies.
Rothschild is poised to take advantage of the industry which is changing, especially with President Obama's healthcare legislation looming on the horizon.
"Today, most people get their healthcare insurance from their employer," says Rothschild. "But between people going into Medicare and taking high deductible health plans, people are going to be buying their own healthcare, so you’re going to see a much more consumer driven market."
Photo credit: Mitch Rothschild