Medical digital billing M&A activity is heating up—here's why

The news: Healthcare payments software company Waystar plans to acquire patient payments, communication, and engagement software developer Patientco. The duo aims to offer patients more consumer-friendly ways to pay their medical bills, per Waystar.

Why it’s worth watching: Companies like Waystar already work with many US hospitals and will likely work with many more as consumers get used to digital billing and contactless payment options.

  • Waystar helps over 1,000 hospitals and health system clients navigate reimbursement and seamless patient payments. These include health systems like Geisinger and Atrium Health, and its partnerships have likely paid off: For example, it recently assisted large health system Atrium Health with improving in-house payment collections by $4.6 million annually.
  • Patients want innovative digital payment options that mirror their experiences in retail—and platforms like Waystar and Cedar’s can deliver them. Over 37% of patients indicated they'd prefer paying their bill via portal, while 32% said they would prefer paying for their visit on a mobile app, according to a June US Bank survey of 1,113 US adults. That’s likely because of patients’ familiarity with digital billing on ecommerce platforms, and their preference to have their healthcare experience work in a similar way: 49% of patients wish their digital healthcare payment experience was smoother and more intuitive, similar to Amazon’s or Netflix’s.

Trendspotting: As consumers look for more efficient ways of making healthcare payments, more medical digital billing companies seek to optimize hospital interest by consolidating their tech.

  • Multiple medical digital billing M&As have happened just within the past year. In early May, revenue cycle management company R1 RCM acquired patient financial engagement company VisitPay in a $300 million deal. And medical billing startup Cedar scooped up rival Ooda Health for $450 million to create a unified platform that’ll help improve digital billing experiences for patients, providers, and insurers.
  • Heightened M&A activity among medical digital billing companies will boost their attractiveness to health system partners that don’t want to hire multiple vendors to meet their needs. For example, this acquisition will likely enable Waystar to offer its hospital clients access to both its new personalized patient payment platform and its revenue cycle cycle management platform (which includes tools to speed up insurance claims monitoring).