Paytient helps customers more efficiently access healthcare benefits and ease stress.
As Brian Whorley recounts the route toward his current role as co-founder and CEO of Paytient, it’s clear his path was one few had traveled. Yet ironically, it was on one of COMO’s most-trodden thoroughfares — the MKT Trail — where inspiration first struck in 2017.
“It felt like a crack of lightning,” says Whorley, an avid cyclist. “I slowed, stopped, and stood there staring at the Missouri River, mentally piecing it all together. This could actually help heal the system.”
The company’s concept is simple: Paytient bundles credit with health insurance plans. Accessible via card or smartphone app, out-of-pocket healthcare expenses can be paid over time and free of interest on a plan of the cardholder’s choosing. Employers pay for the service as a benefit, which has resulted in improved enrollment in lower premium health plans, happier employees, and patients receiving necessary healthcare with greater efficiency and frequency. (Paytient assumes all the risk for the line of credit given to employees.)
Whorley — a Mizzou-educated engineer whose career has crisscrossed healthcare and tech — embraces a contrarian element in his entrepreneurial perspective. In other words, he understands the status quo well enough to challenge it, looking for new and dynamic ways to make “uncertain moments in people’s lives feel better.”
Whorley explains his path to Paytient and the company’s place in the national healthcare marketplace.
Describe your upbringing, family and what brought you to Columbia.
I grew up in Springfield, Missouri, where my parents cared deeply for my sister and me. Hard work and sacrifice were highly valued in our household, and my parents marched to their own beat, comfortably apart from the crowd. The most important people in my life are my family: wife Gina, son Joe, and daughter Gabby; my business partner, Daniel Lynn; and a small circle of close friendships.
Walk us through the trajectory of your career. Did you always know you wanted to work in healthcare and its adjacent industries?
Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to start a business but I didn’t have anyone in my life with entrepreneurial experience. After college, I decided the best way to get experience was to get experience. In 2007, I joined Boone Hospital and was incredibly fortunate to call it home for most of my career. I learned so much and I’m grateful for the opportunity to have grown as a person.
Before my time at Boone, Daniel and I created a software platform that local entrepreneurs could use to start local market branded, independently-owned DoorDashes — more than seven years before DoorDash existed. We were at the intersection of a couple of massive societal waves (smartphones, on-demand purchasing, and online payment processing). By 2014, nearly a million people were using the software across the country. We had summited a mountain and it filled me with confidence. I started looking for a bigger societal problem to solve, something that I could pour my soul into for decades. I thought it would have been the hospital, but life had other plans.
Paytient represents everything I’ve learned and believe to be true about what’s over the horizon. Once again, I see several waves coming together, and we’re quietly building something that millions of people will use in their daily lives only this time we’re not doing it alone. We’ll have several hundred people building with us here at Paytient by this time next year.
What kind of card is Paytient?
The Paytient card is a health plan-sponsored line of credit called an HPA that members can use to pay for care for their whole family — including pets. After each transaction, they choose an interest-free payment plan that fits their budget. On-demand line of credit with a limit set by the health plan.
What is Paytient’s genesis story?
I had been exploring the idea of a marketplace of cash-priced procedures inside of a health savings account (HSA) when I was riding my bike with John Riddick (CEO of ASI Flex) on the MKT Trail talking about some of the challenges. The idea of a cash marketplace was compelling, but fronting payments to providers, off insurance rails, is something that a majority of Americans aren’t ready for and certainly haven’t set aside enough savings for yet.
The arc of employer-provided benefits bends toward defined contribution. We saw this play out once before as pensions transitioned to 401Ks. The increase in deductibles is evidence of this arc slowly playing out once again. That increase represents uncertainty.
I rode on that afternoon and kept turning it over in my mind mile after mile. I decided to pursue it with everything I had. I called up Daniel and asked him if he had “one more climb” in him. Matt Jenne (owner of Addison’s) and his partners were our first employer clients. One of his staff used Paytient within 24 hours of our explaining the benefit at open enrollment. She loved the experience.
We saw immediate usage and began to receive positive feedback from users — powerful stories of how Paytient helped them get care. Today, Paytient is part of nearly 2,000 employer health plans. By this summer, we’ll be serving 5,000 to 10,000 employers across the country in partnership with the nation’s largest insurers.
Paytient is a healthcare company. Functionally, we help people pay for care, but the essence and outcome of what we create is certainty. We ensure that patients can easily get and pay for care.
Why is Columbia a great home for Paytient?
Columbia is an unexpectedly awesome place to live, work and play. Paytient has two annual summits which are all-hands get-togethers twice a year. We even call one of those meetings “homecoming.” At those meetings, and throughout the year, we’re really intentional in trying to create relationships and facilitate conversations.
We are always thinking about our colleagues who work from their home offices in Atlanta, Seattle, Austin, Brooklyn, or wherever. When we bring people into COMO, it’s an open company secret: Brian’s trying to sell us on moving to Columbia. I’m always saying, “Isn’t this place great? Isn’t this downtown great? Isn’t Sparky’s great? You can get really good seats at sporting events. You can go to this amazing documentary film festival.”
You’re not giving up things, you’re gaining things moving to Columbia from these other big cities.
Paytient Technologies, Inc.
3601 Endeavor Ave. Suite 109