Brightree chases patient pay

‘It hasn’t been the norm for so many years, but now providers don’t have a choice’
Friday, January 24, 2014

ATLANTA – Recognizing that patients are becoming increasingly responsible for their healthcare expenses, Brightree upped the ante in January by acquiring Overland Park, Kan.-based Strategic AR.

The two companies had previously announced a partnership to integrate and market their solutions in July.

“As we started to more tightly align, we saw more and more opportunities of how the two solutions could work together,” said Chris Watson, chief marketing officer. “We determined it was in the best interest of our customers to deepen the relationship.”

Though owned by Brightree, Strategic AR will operate as a separate company with Kevin Winkley, founder and CEO, at the helm. It will also continue to support and develop services to customers that use other billing platforms, about 40% of its base.

The acquisition will better position Brightree customers to take advantage of an increase in high-deductible health plans and private-pay customers, Watson says.

“We want to help our customers go after that,” she said. “And we want to help them do it in a way that makes them easy to work with.”

The first integration will be the automatic posting of payments to Brightree’s billing platform. Something that’s a little farther down the road, Watson says: linking the Brightree Connect portal, which helps customers streamline resupply ordering, with Strategic AR’s patient collection portal.

“I’m most excited about those portals talking to each other,” she said. “When they do, it will be a seamless experience for online orders and payments to be made.”

For Strategic AR, the acquisition creates prospects for new customers, and reduces its administrative and overhead expenses so it can focus on product development, Winkley says.

“We’re rolling out an account management platform that will allow account managers to take a more proactive approach to their customers,” he said.

Something that will benefit both Brightree and Strategic AR: There’s plenty of room for growth in the patient pay market, Watson says.

“We’re just at the beginning of this trend,” she said. “It hasn’t been the norm for so many years, but now providers don’t have a choice.”