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This Atlanta Startup Combines HealthTech and FinTech to Simplify Patient Payments

by Muriel Vega

With healthcare costs rising quickly, hospitals are scrambling to stay on top of patient payments, often hiring hundreds of payment specialists to track down the money. One study found that over half of hospitals surveyed lost money on every patient they served that year. For health systems that rely on timely patient payments for survival, healthcare payments company Patientco provides a seamless system to manage patients payment experiences.

“We believe the best way to help hospitals is to improve the patient financial experience by enabling hospitals to offer consumer-friendly payment options, and then automate the administration of those payments,” says Bird Blitch, CEO of Patientco.

The healthcare company’s clients see over $13 million more coming in once they’ve simplified their payment processes with the platform, according to Blitch. In one case study, Grinnell Regional Medical Center automated 79 percent of their payments. The payment company also integrated EHR technology solutions Epic so healthcare systems can have scheduling, payments, and records all within one platform.

Blitch credits Patientco’s growth to its work culture and talented leadership that empowers talent. He dives deep into Patientco’s recent accomplishments in product development and client acquisition, how they are helping hospitals get back to managing patients instead of payments, and the importance of recruiting an A-team to grow.

What’s Patientco’s pitch?

When you think of Atlanta, it’s the healthcare IT capital of the world, and it’s the Fintech payment capital of the world, and Patientco sits at the center of that intersection. We’re a consumer payments company focused exclusively on healthcare. We bring world-class payment infrastructure. We bundle that up with an advanced suite of consumer payment tools. We use analytics to inform the ways we connect with consumers or patients to build a really strong customer experience.

The result of all that is a yield of patient dollars coming into health systems. Think of Atlanta, you think of health systems like Piedmont, Northside, WellStar, Dekalb Medical Center, CHOA, Emory, Grady, that’s what we think of a health system. You get a lot of patients coming in and out, dealing with a lot of doctors and a lot of hospital visits, and a lot of confusion.

Many other tools connect with different types of consumers, but one thing we all have in common, we’ve all been to the doctor at some point in time, and we’ve all been a patient; we’ve all dealt with the most frustrating, complex, confusing part of our journey — and that is the financial piece.

What problem is Patientco solving with its platform?

One quarter of your healthcare in terms of what it costs is associated with administrative work. That’s far higher than probably any other industry. Just to give you an example, a large North Carolina university has 900 hospital beds and 1300 billing clerks. That’s an inefficient process.

When you’re talking to health systems who are facing these very complex problems today, they are trying to survive on very slim margins and every dollar counts. These dollars can sometimes be the difference between survival — or not. 

What are Patientco’s most recent accomplishments?

Patientco is unique in that we’re not just a SaaS company, we’re a payments company. Just like WorldPay moves a lot of dollars, Patientco as well moves a lot of patient dollars. We’ve grown just by the industry we’re in. There’s a big problem and we’re solving it. Can you believe that from 2011 to 2014, if you look at the amount of patient payments that are coming through to health systems, it has increased by 200 percent?

We see a future where when you think of, “I’ve got a patient-payment problem,” which every single hospital does, we want every single one of them using Patientco. Iterations along that path is where Patientco has been. We’ve been signing up large health systems all over the country; recently, the largest health system in the state of New Jersey. 

How has your product evolved with the industry’s growth, including your recent partnership with Epic?

We’re always using data to develop and introduce newer, better ways to help patients understand and pay their bills. We’ve done some really cool integrations with market leaders to spread our ability to serve health systems and their patients. For example, if you’re on WAZE and you can use Spotify, it’s a lot easier if you use Spotify through one app than through toggling around while you’re driving. Same thing here. When you think about integrations like Epic, which is one of the two largest EHRs (Electronic Hospital Records) for large health systems, they make it easy for health systems to use Patientco.

We want simplicity and we want everything in one place. So if you’re at scheduling or patient access or if you’re in the front office taking a copay or in the back office taking a phone call, that can all be done through Epic, which integrates into Patientco technology seamlessly. That allows health systems to get back to managing patients and not patient payments, which is really our vision statement.

You’ve got a few case studies with different hospitals after you helped them increase their payments. How has Patientco influenced their growth, and what feedback did you receive from them?

You will see different health systems growing around Patientco, and this is ultimately what the end result is. They’ve gone from having very dissatisfied patients to having patients now score their financial journey around the experience 96 percent happy. There’s been a five-fold increase in some cases. This is better for the patient and better for the health system.

Patientco has a robust set of analytics that is consistently engaging consumers to determine how they understand, based on that what they want to pay, based on that when they want to pay, and even based on that where they want to pay. Do they want to pay online, over the phone, in person at the office, or check through the email? Then we wrap that all together to create a unique index score to determine how to communicate and help that patient understand better, so they’ll pay faster.

With your growth, why was it important to bring in experienced leadership talent?

Here our leaders believe in empowerment, believe in embracing responsibility, believe in helping people improve and get better each and every day. Those are some of our core values, but we brought in leaders who really have proven track records in high-growth opportunities to help us continue to accelerate the growth along this path because it’s a big industry and we have big goals.

We’ve grown to the point where we have strong leaders with empowered teams. For example, our VP of Development has built a team with developers working in key areas of specialties on small teams within a bigger developer team.

If you look at a lot of great companies growing, they’re able to bring on senior talent because they know the growth in the company translates into success. A lot of people talk about it, but very few people do it. We’re doing it.

What are your current thoughts on the southern tech ecosystem and how would you like to see it grow?

I love Atlanta because I think it brings the best of a lot of things together. It brings a diverse culture. It brings good living conditions. It brings good cost of living, but it also brings companies and leaders here that have grown a lot of different types of companies and are giving that back to the community so these folks can grow to be great problem solvers, can understand more about how business works besides just developing a code base. Companies are growing fast. I think Atlanta has a lot of that to offer.

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