VisitPay CEO and co-founder Kent Ivanoff and his 11-year-old Boise-based startup were recently purchased for approximately $300 million, but Ivanoff doesn’t expect VisitPay’s innovation plans to change anytime soon, with the exception of possibly being sped up.
The acquiring business, R1, is also a technology-driven solutions platform, which Ivanoff believes will better than complement VisitPay’s “management of patient billing for good.”
As the industry’s market began trying to figure out the same problems VisitPay was addressing, Ivanoff said he had almost a dozen parties reach out about joining forces. To help in the decision, Ivanoff and the leadership team hired an investment bank to help determine whether the best course of action for all parties would be to sell, merge or stay independent.
Boise Startup Week, Built in Idaho and Trailhead enjoyed talking with Ivanoff further about his approach to VisitPay being acquired, and what is next for himself and the startup.
What do you feel this merger means for VisitPay?
“We presumed that ultimately we’d need to be part of something bigger. Ultimately we came to the conclusion the right answer for all stakeholders is R1.”
The purchase price offer was very attractive, Ivanoff added, and he was sold on the company’s desire to complement their robust tech-enabled service business with VisitPay’s robust technology platform. R1 and VisitPay already shared some clients, and now the services those clients receive can be broadened and deeply integrated.
“It was a nice synergy, and as a publicly traded company, (there is) more capital available to us for a more aggressive innovation agenda. We have so many more resources to bring to bear, (such as for R&D).”
The current plan is that “R1 will keep the VisitPay team not just intact, but thriving in Boise.” Ivanoff expects there to be hiring for tech jobs, including for VisitPay, “making Boise a hub.”
How do you see your role?
Ivanoff will now report to R1’s CEO Joseph Flanagan, and Ivanoff plans to “continue leading the VisitPay business line.”
“I think my impact to the broader organization is to-be-determined. My primary and singular focus in the near term is continuing to execute the VisitPay business plan — continue to grow the company, innovate R&D, drive value for customers and patients. We had a very robust innovation agenda prior to R1; I don’t see that changing at all; I think the pace (might) increase because of more access to resources and having the ability to extend our reach beyond what we have today.”
What innovation and R&D would you like to speak to?
Ivanoff describes VisitPay as offering a platform that allows health care providers a turnkey system to manage the patient experience, particularly around the billing and payment cycle. VisitPay uses years of data to estimate charges, also a helpful tool for insurance companies.
VisitPay addresses the complexities of patient billing while acknowledging the humanness of the stakeholders; VisitPay’s client base includes multiple not-for-profit hospitals. VisitPay describes itself as “reimagining the patient experience” by “being designed for people, not claims;” offering “consolidated bills, finance plans and payments,” and maintaining connection through pre-service to post-service. It also “optimizes provider actions.”
Consumers and providers both want a resolution, Ivanoff said. The intent is to keep people out of bankruptcy and debt, and being respectful, approaching billing “the right way,” which can have “a great set of outcomes.”
“It’s been our vision … to extend the seamlessness of what we offer our clients. All our folks bought into being a part of something making a difference. (We are) excited to bring R1 products into that ecosystem.”
What advice do you have for those considering selling or merging?
Ivanoff is a serial entrepreneur, and this is not his first time selling a company.
“I think a lot of things went into (this decision) for us. I think (you) need to have some type of framework of how to make that decision before you face it.”
For Ivanoff, that meant really considering who the partner would be, if the cultures would align, and if all stakeholders would benefit. The goal for VisitPay has been to have its desired impact on a national scale, and to do that in Boise. Ivanoff anticipated a serious partner would be needed.
“Being independent for the sake of being independent never resonated with me. I think if (done) the right way, (selling/merging) can be very liberating and create an abundance of outcomes for all stakeholders. The next chapter starts here.”