Innovation in Payments: Dr. Bill, an RBC Ventures Company

Interview with Steve Lionais, Co-Founder and CEO at Dr. Bill, an RBC Ventures Company

What do innovation opportunities in Payments look like in post-COVID world? Highline Beta has put together Crisis Manifesto: Innovation Opportunities in Payments post-COVID report. Today, we talk with Steve Lionais, Co-Founder and CEO at Dr. Bill, an RBC Ventures Company about the work Dr. Bill has been doing to help doctors manage their billings in the wake of the pandemic.

Tell us about Dr. Bill. What does your company do and how did it come to be? 

Dr. Bill was founded in 2014 and acquired by RBC last year. We offer a combination of a tech solution and a service for doctors in Canada. Most doctors here are treated as independent companies, which means they manage their own income and billing. They invoice via OHIP and there are really specific rules for logging work in order to receive payment; the whole process can feel confusing and opaque. We are here to ensure physicians aren’t losing money — our goal is “income optimization.” 

What are your thoughts on the changes and trends you are seeing in payments? What specific gaps, blind spots and opportunities has COVID-19 exposed? What existing trends have been accelerating and why?

In the healthcare space, the main change we’ve seen is a big move to virtual care. Everything is moving online: teleconference, telemedicine, and even clinics that are normally run in-person. Physicians have to bill differently for this to work and it’s new to them. In Ontario and Alberta, virtual visits weren’t covered by the government before the pandemic. So the billing rules have been confusing.

In some cases, in Ontario in particular, physicians just weren’t paid for months, and that’s on top of the fact that many of them are now working fewer hours. Hospitals have freed up capacity for COVID-19 patients, elective surgeries have been canceled, and overall, our average customer is still billing less. But we are starting to see billing volumes recover. 

What do innovation opportunities in Payments look like in post-COVID world?

Highline Beta took a deep dive into payments innovation opportunities and trends, and released Crisis Manifesto: How Payments Will Evolve post-COVID report that examines massive consumer behavior shifts and features industry research and lessons from over 70 startup and corporate stakeholders.

What role will creative collaborations play in shaping the future of payments and finance on the other side of the pandemic? What kind of future are you building for? 

In our world, change is driven by the government’s policies and procedures. While payments we facilitate are already issued electronically, the impact we’re seeing is more on the front-end. We focus on handling claims faster, so it’s a process problem we can solve through combining support for our clients and the right software. For 2020, we have a plan and roadmap — it’s all about helping physicians. We’re looking at possibilities of integrating and partnering telemedicine providers on telezoom or custom built software, and building a billing module. We’re currently processing $400M dollars in claims a year, and it’s growing significantly.

There’s about $26B in payments happening in the healthcare space every year, including fee-for-service medical billing and payments to physicians. Partly due to COVID, we’re growing faster. Everyone’s practice is changing, and physicians want to run their practice better, and so of course RBC supporting us has been fantastic. It’s a good time to be partnered with RBC on helping physicians get paid faster. 

The future of successful companies will rely on a willingness to embrace strategic alliances, listen to new consumer needs and act decisively in uncertain times. Please read the full Crisis Manifesto: Innovation Opportunities in Payments post-COVID report here.