How Mid-Missouri’s Paytient Is Transforming How We Pay for Health Care

Brian Whorley of Paytient

How Mid-Missouri’s Paytient Is Transforming How We Pay for Health Care

Founder of Paytient Brian Whorley, inspired by his time at Boone County Hospital in Columbia, Missouri, created a system that’s helping over a million Americans better manage health care costs, reduce financial anxiety and get the treatments they need. 

“​​I wanted to reduce costs as a barrier to care,” Brian says. “I felt if we did that, the outcome would be more folks being able to live healthier, happier, longer lives.”

Paytient’s mission is clear: providing members a Health Payment Account with a revolving line of credit on a Visa card, allowing Paytients (a clever reference to the startup’s users) to pay out-of-pocket health care and veterinary expenses upfront and then select an interest-free payment plan that best fits their budget.

Employers and health insurers fund the service, resulting in higher enrollment in lower premium plans and more frequent health care access, with Paytient assuming all credit risk. This innovation has led to rapid growth, with Paytient now integrated into 6,000 employer health plans.

“We’re changing how people make decisions about health care by offering a way to pay for care over time,” Brian says. “We’re smoothly removing the friction of out-of-pocket expenses, giving people peace of mind and certainty of affordability.”

Paytient Visa CardPaytients pay and go on with their day

This approach has resonated with users, as reflected in numerous positive reviews on Trustpilot. Brian says that one reviewer commented: “Setting up Paytient was fast and easy and lifted some weight off my shoulders from having to worry about how I’m going to make the next pay day. Thank you so much.”

Brian was on a bike ride through the Katy Trail in Columbia when the idea for Paytient came to him as a solution for those who avoid or delay expensive health care treatments.

Brian’s experience working at Boone County Hospital was pivotal to Paytient’s creation. Founded on April 2, 2018, Paytient quickly moved from concept to market, with Brian and his long-term business partner, Daniel Lin, developing the initial version. Paytient is now accessible via card or smartphone app.

“Paytient is growing very quickly because we’ve got an incredible team building an incredible product that makes a very uncertain moment in people’s lives better,” Brian says.

Paytient’s growth accelerates through the Missouri Innovation Center

In 2019, as Brian began to recruit and grow his Paytient team, he got a helpful boost for his company by being involved with the Missouri Innovation Center, or MIC, and completing the Missouri Accelerator Fund.

“The Missouri Accelerator Fund was one of our earliest Angel rounds,” Brian says. “There was a check from that, and it also came with space in the facility. We were able to base our crew there.”

MIC focuses on aiding high-growth life science companies, which often require specialized lab space and patient capital. Brian says he significantly benefited from MIC’s resources and support, including an investment from MIC’s previous $2 million tech accelerator fund. 

“That fund was designed to help folks in the tech software app space, as opposed to strictly only life science,” says MIC founder Quinten Messbarger. 

How MIC helps life science companies land capital

MIC is committed to supporting local entrepreneurs in creating high-growth ventures that improve lives and stimulate the economy in mid-Missouri. 

“Our goal ever since we were created is to do everything we can to help entrepreneurs as they’re launching and growing their startups,” Quinten says.

Quinten says he recognizes the unique capital requirements for life science businesses, as several require a lot of money in their pre-revenue stage that could last for many years.

“A lot of life science companies are going to require FDA approval, and that could be five, eight or 14 years, depending on what kind it is. They’re not bankable,” he says. “We help companies get funding, get grants and raise capital from investors.”

Funding for MIC’s startups is possible through the presence of Centennial Investors, an angel network/venture capital company in Columbia. This group plays a crucial role in investing in many local companies so they can thrive.

This financial support is part of MIC’s broader mission; it also provides entrepreneurs with specialized lab spaces, resources, access to certain centers within the University of Missouri and mentoring.

Paytient looks to scale

After getting over the initial hurdle of explaining Paytient’s impact to investors as a brand new category of health plans, Brian is currently focused on expanding Paytient’s reach even further. 

“We’re transitioning from a local scale to regional scale to a national scale,” he says. “We’ve had the privilege of having those conversations that share our impact with larger partners.”

Brian’s advice to other health care entrepreneurs who are about to break ground is to remember who’s at the focus of their work.

“Stay patient-centered,” Brian says. “Ensure that you are helping people get the care they need at a fair price. Focus on making that interaction between patient and provider as seamless as possible.”

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