The patient knows best
As consumers begin taking charge of their own health care, opportunities abound for those whose business plans bring power to the people.
(Business 2.0 Magazine) -- We all know the health-care system is a $2 trillion dinosaur of the way-old economy. So where's the opportunity in that? Everywhere.
But forget about trying to drag doctors, insurers, and hospitals into the Internet age. That was Health 1.0. Instead, if you're looking to start a health-related business, focus on the real customers - you know, the ones formerly known as patients.
First they used the Net to educate themselves and shake up the medical establishment's Marcus Welby-era doctor-knows-best mentality. Now they're starting to control their own medical spending. Thanks to health savings accounts, people are moving over to "consumer-directed health plans" - you, the patient, get a health-care budget from your employer and manage your expenses accordingly.
That means you'd better shop around before opting for a $2,000 MRI.
Free to buy health care like anything else, tech-savvy consumers are looking at the next generation of medical services, everything from online genetic testing to Wal-Mart medical clinics. But as always, the real opportunity lies with services not yet invented. How about a Priceline for nonemergency surgery? Or an online reservation system for doctors' appointments, à la Open Table?
In the stories below, we'll show you where smart entrepreneurs are putting their money - and tell you what you need to know to get in on the action too.