Give us a brief recap of your entrepreneurial career since you graduated from Owen:
During Mod One of my first year, me and another fellow Owen classmate formed a medical device start-up, Veran Medical Technologies (Veranmedical.com) that closed its first investment on graduation day in 2004. We grew the Company here in Nashville for two more years until a VC investor required it relocation to St. Louis. I remained in Nashville doing consulting and that is how I met Davis Frederiksen, a fellow Owen alum, business partner and Co-Founder of my next start-up, PatientFocus, (www.patientfocus.com).
How did you have the idea for PatientFocus and what does the company do?
David and I drank more than one beer whiteboarding an idea that is a convergence of a number of different models. Originally considered a "factoring play", we were interested in how underwriting based on patient-based analytics could enhance the probability of increasing patient pay collects. We were also seeing a shift in the way patients were being treated- while patients were becoming more like consumers in the ability to access information about the cost of care, hospitals were not adapting the "customer service" model to meet these enhance expectations. Unifying the theme as an early consideration of what impact the ACA may ever have on healthcare as a whole and what cost shifts it may bring to bear made for heady conversation about how to address what we thought would be a good way to grow a business.
PatientFocus (PatientFocus.com) is a tech-enabled healthcare billing company focused exclusively on the patient portion of medical bills owed after insurance has been paid. We serve as a full-service, white-labeled extension of hospital billing offices, managing the entire patient billing process. Our differentiator is that PatientFocus guarantees hospitals increased patient-pay revenue. We advance hospitals the cash equal to their own historical patient collection success, without any fee or recourse. Any collections above the hospital’s historical collection rate are split equally between the hospital and PatientFocus. We use an 'At-Risk' Revenue model because we usually double our clients' historical patient pay revenue by using a patient friendly approach and sophisticated predictive-payment algorithms.
How is it going? What has been challenging and what have your big wins been so far?
It is going very well, thankfully. One challenge is understanding where you are going when the waters are relatively uncharted. We knew success would require a value proposition unique to anything else in the market. The challenge in being unique and different is not having anything to compare yourself to! I will be the first to tell you we do not have it all figured out and there is much road ahead, but one of the most gratifying parts of starting PatientFocus has been the ability to remain true to our core thesis, having seen what we thought would happen in fact take place, and being able to tell folks who have supported and invested in you that you have done what you said you would and have been right about the business assumptions more times than not.
What are your goals for the company in the future?
We have always thought that there would be a chance to sell the Company in a way that would be productive to our shareholders. We would love to build a strong brand and market presence because we now see that the opportunity to do so is very real. In a more humble sense, I suppose I just want to keep getting up each day, excited about what's in front of us, feeling fortunate to be a part of something successful that I find interesting, exciting and fun.
How has the Owen Community been helpful as you've built the company?
The Owen Alumni is something of a mafia in town. Its a rich network that can be of immense value if you are patient and appreciate how those relationships are built and strengthened over time. Owen Alums have provided mentorship, camaraderie and investment dollars(boom!). In the spirit of reciprocity, PatientFocus has been a welcome place for interns and those looking to network as they launch their careers. We have hired a recent Owen Grad Lee Cohen as a Business Analyst, thanks to an intro from a bright fellow alum and VC we know. ;)
Knowing what you know now, what advice do you have for current Owen students that want to start a company?
There is no better way to use your degree; there is no better way to learn about business, to gain experience or to understand yourself and how you manage life's challenges and successes than to start your own business. Best advice- do in now. You WILL make mistakes. The more of 'em you make sooner, the more you learn. Or so you hope!