Lynx Lays FinTech Tracks to Help Providers Integrate Healthcare, Finance Flows

Untold amounts of planning are now being devoted to ideas around the consumerization of healthcare, particularly as it relates to engagement, affordability and optionality.

Where operators need help is understanding and selecting the application programming interfaces (APIs) that connect new digital banking and payments technology to healthcare delivery securely and at scale, creating a different kind of health-finance connectivity for a heavily regulated sector.

Lynx CEO and co-founder Matt Renfro believes that neither incumbents nor new players in the space are adequately addressing the gap between rising healthcare costs and patients’ ability to access payment options — ideally embedded in their own healthcare journey.

That’s led to lots of missed chances to drive affordability, engagement and better patient-provider outcomes. As multiple massive demographic cohorts hit middle age or well above, opportunities abound to connect the sick with good options and reward wellness in new ways.

That’s where Lynx sits, embedding finance and offers in the healthcare flow while handling backend cloud architectures, data modeling, analytics, payment processing and more. As the company comes out of stealth today (March 3) with the announcement that it has raised $17.5 million in Series A funding, Renfro told PYMNTS he’s on a mission to offer patients the same speed and simplicity customers have grown to expect from online FinTech offerings.

FinTechs provide a working model for what many see as the right direction for healthcare. We’re starting to see it happen as former finance experts apply their know-how cross-sector. It’s a heavy lift for most healthcare providers, however, which creates an opening for the launch of Lynx, a new healthcare payments, banking and eCommerce platform.

A thoroughly connected approach is right on time from Renfro’s viewpoint, as Lynx wants to address the link between a person’s physical health and their finances.

“A fact that is missed by incumbents, maybe due to industry silos between financial services, payments, and healthcare … is [that] a person’s health and finances are directly correlated,” Renfro said. “When someone’s financial health declines, their personal health tends to follow.”

Lynx want to fix that, streamlining payments into healthcare wallets and smart debit cards, simplifying a complex process with an easy-to-use interface. It’s a big step ahead for most healthcare organizations, which typically rely on stitched-together, siloed point solutions.

Having spent five years with Optum Bank, where he met Lynx co-founder and chief information officer Ken Abel, Renfro said he’s familiar with the challenges organizations face when they set out to develop innovative tech and better experiences.

“The way we’ve built our solution, it’s agnostic to business line for a [provider],” he said. “We know what a Medicare plan is attempting to do to improve their star ratings. We know what a commercial plan is attempting to do to take out costs for their employer customers.

“It’s a pretty comprehensive approach, as far as how we’re going after health insurers, but also, there’s different ways that employers are getting their benefits through disruptors in the payroll space, benefits administration.”


Simplicity Brings Engagement

Calling for simplicity in connecting healthcare-focused financial accounts to procuring other products and services, Refro remarked on common pain points for patients and consumers.

With their single-digital conversion rates, call centers don’t quite cut it, even though a 1% engagement increase is still “extremely meaningful” for reducing costs, he said.

Citing common consumer issues to accessing more affordable options, he said, “How can I simply get an HSA-eligible product that can be interconnected in the same banking experience?” That’s when a provider or partner can swoop in with a tailored offer.

“Where that likely extends is, ‘I’d like to offer my underinsured population a low-cost virtual care appointment that does not need to go run through insurance,’” Renfro continued. “Nothing would stop us from beginning to integrate the need to not have to run through the insurance rails.”

On that front, digital healthcare can learn from banking and financial services, where users log in to their accounts daily — and sometimes multiple times daily. It’s almost “social media good,” in terms of how digital banking experience keeps consumers returning frequently.

“FinTech is probably three or four times the engagement of health,” Renfro said. “How can you then connect people to the health services that can reduce their cost, reduce the cost upstream for their employer or their [provider]?”

Well, by connecting them to the right thing at the right time — like Amazon might.

“There’s definitely a healthcare eCommerce component to what we’re doing,” he said. “There’s no limitations as far as who we can open that up to. We’re talking to digital health companies, provider systems who are looking at prescribed food as medicine on a debit card, so there’s a lot of different applications.”


Crossing the Health-Finance Gap

Obvious Ventures and .406 Ventures led the Lynx fundraise.

By bringing financial services offerings onto a single platform and providing consumers with a delightful, easy-to-navigate experience, Obvious Ventures co-founder and managing director Vishal Vasishth said, “Lynx enables companies to engage their customers in a way that drives [Net Promoter Scores] up and brings costs down.”

From Renfro’s perspective, “Everyone’s experiencing rising deductibles, seniors are becoming more and more engaged from a digital perspective, and their expectations are [rising] as well.

“If you don’t have the right technology for managing a supplemental benefit or an eCommerce experience, that’s going to be an issue in the next few years, because now you’re comparing a mail catalog in Medicare and healthcare to Amazon, which is not a great comparison.”

He added that Lynx has “a number of partnerships and different activities that will be probably announced throughout this year.”

“We just closed our Series A financing and it’s time for us to get out to the world, and hopefully we can start to go after our mission of closing this healthcare black hole, this gap between healthcare and finance for people,” Renfro said.