The recent acquisition of VisitPay by R1 promises to bring big things to the healthcare industry. As part of the R1 team, VisitPay is innovating even more, continuing to evolve its technology, and expand its efforts and reach—transforming the financial experience for more health systems and patients than ever. But how did such a partnership come to be? Sharon Fisher, a reporter for Built in Boise, reached out to VisitPay CTO David Smith to get the story behind the acquisition.
VisitPay executives always presumed the company would eventually be part of something bigger, but figured that decision was a few more years down the road. Then, starting in November 2020, the market hardened in a different way. As the healthcare industry saw more investment in and focus on digital health and fintech, different entities began reaching out about partnering with VisitPay.
As a result of the increased interest in the company, the leadership team felt it was time to take a serious look at how the organization should proceed. In close collaboration with key advisors, the team developed four criteria for making a decision: the course of action would have to be positive for the company, its customers, its employees, and the Boise community. It became clear that R1 was the answer to all of those.
One of the biggest draws of R1’s offer was their dedication to Boise. R1 has a vision for Boise to be the next center of excellence for enterprise healthcare technology—so VisitPay’s established ability to attract and develop talent within the community is a huge advantage. Kent Ivanoff, VisitPay CEO and co-founder, was born and raised in Idaho, and the VisitPay platform was first developed in partnership with St. Luke’s (Idaho’s largest not-for-profit health system). With a strong foundation in Boise, it only made sense to keep the company’s future here, too. “We’re really excited to continue building our community here in Boise, and R1 is going to be a big part of that,” said David.
Having experienced tremendous growth over the last few years, to the extent that its technology is now used by 1 in 10 not-for-profit hospitals in the US, VisitPay was in a strong position to choose its own destiny. “While the market for digital health companies certainly contributed to the opportunity,” David commented, “the $300 million cash acquisition was a major point of validation for the work we’re doing. R1 wants VisitPay to continue on the innovative path we’ve been on—and they’ve been nothing but supportive.”
Within the agreement, VisitPay will continue to operate as a separate entity and brand within R1. And R1 has made it clear that they don’t want to disrupt the momentum VisitPay has built within the market, giving the team a long leash to invest in domain expertise of tech-forward healthcare payment management.
From a technical perspective, the integration with R1 is especially exciting. The two organizations coming together furthers R1’s drive to become a technology company. Together, the companies are able to not only connect the patient journey, but also support interoperability with legacy systems on the hospital side.
The visions of both organizations for the acquisition remain complementary, and both teams are excited by the global and local opportunities afforded by the acquisition. VisitPay now has the support to deepen its work in applying advanced data science and massive platform scalability to solve an enduring consumer pain point in a massive industry. And, not only can the company build an end-to-end patient experience that expands its national scale, but the company can do so by leveraging Boise’s technical talent pool.
When asked if VisitPay had to do this again, or what would the team do differently, David says, “We wouldn’t have done anything differently. Thanks to the ongoing guidance of our advisors, we were able to confidently navigate the process, turning down several opportunities that didn’t align with our mission. We were diligent about protecting our company, customers, employees, and community. By staying true to ourselves and our values throughout the process, we were able to identify the right opportunity for us.”
Throughout its history, VisitPay has embraced an “always learning” mindset. David Smith likes to say it’s a “failure-tolerant company,” built on testing what works in the market and constantly finding ways to evolve. With the R1 partnership, VisitPay will continue to learn, adapt, and improve—and be able to make more of an impact on the healthcare industry than ever before.