Doxo wants to take the paperwork out of healthcare

Screenshot of Doxo healthcare (click to enlarge)

Doxo, the Seattle startup that makes “digital file cabinet” software, has thus far focused on giving users a single place to manage regularly occurring bills for services such as telephone, cable, and credit cards. But now, the company is taking on a much bigger and more complicated system: Healthcare.

Doxo is announcing Friday that a number of major healthcare provider systems have signed up to send medical bills and receive patient payments through the online service. According to Doxo, its new clients comprise 40 hospitals and 3,000 physicians, and include Saint Luke’s Health System, Advocate Health Care and Advocate Medical Group, Novant Health, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, University of Illinois Medical Center, Rockford Health System, and Rush-Copley Medical Center.

It’s a big coup for the Doxo, which was founded in 2008 and launched its service to the public in mid-2011. The company has raised $15.3 million in venture capital from Sigma Partners, Mohr Davidow Ventures and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ VC firm, Bezos Expeditions. Doxo is free for consumers, and the company charges the businesses who sign up to send bills through the service. According to Doxo CEO Steve Shivers, companies pay for the service because it saves them a significant amount of money compared to paper billing — and the healthcare space can especially benefit from this type of savings.

“Hospitals send invoices to patients three times, on average, before they pay it,” Shivers said. “So for a $10 copay, they’re spending $10 to $15 just to collect it. This is an industry that has runaway costs, and from a consumer standpoint there’s runaway complexity.”

But of course, it’s not easy to convince complex, entrenched industries like healthcare to try something new. That’s why it’s a big deal for Doxo to have inked these initial contracts. The hope is that after this initial batch, many more healthcare providers will be emboldened to sign up to do paperless billing through Doxo, Shivers said.

“Since we launched to the public last summer, the first providers we really signed up were what I call more conventional categories like banks, credit unions, alarm systems,” Shivers said. “But healthcare has been one of most important verticals for us to get into. We have these six providers signed up now, but the healthcare industry is huge. This is just the start.”

I think it’s a great move: The time for healthcare to really adopt technology is right now, and going paperless is a great first step toward that goal. Many health providers have websites that patients can create profiles for, but the reality is most people don’t go to the doctor enough to create a log-in ID and remember a password. So we end up getting paperwork sent in the mail that often goes ignored, since many of us prefer to do our bills online. It’s a big cycle that ends up creating stress for consumers and costing healthcare providers lots of money. There’s a big opportunity here, and it’s nice that a startup like Doxo is gaining a good foothold in the space.