New owner of ZirMed hopes to grow, add jobs in Louisville
The CEO of Waystar, the company that absorbed Louisville's ZirMed late last year, sat down with WDRB to talk about future plans and how Louisville fits in.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- In the late 1990s, Dr. Robert Robbins’ surgical practice in Elizabethtown, Ky. was still using paper records to submit claims to insurance companies, meaning delays in getting paid because of inevitable human errors in paperwork.
When some entrepreneurs showed him a software program that could computerize all that administrative work, Robbins decided to become not only a customer, but an investor.
“Once I saw it, I could visualize what it could do for my practice and other doctors’ practices,” Robbins said in an interview.
In 1999, Robbins became an early investor in ZirMed Inc., and he recruited other physician friends to put money into the company.
Robbins, 84, would get his big day nearly 20 years later. After at least three CEOs and several rounds of hiring and layoffs, ZirMed was sold late last year for a reported $750 million to Navicure, a similar company based in the Atlanta area. (Robbins said he owned 3 to 4 percent of ZirMed at the time of sale).
Under the new name Waystar, the combined company processes billions of healthcare transactions annually for thousands doctors, hospital systems and other providers through its Internet-based cloud platform.
Its value is in helping healthcare providers cut through the complexities of insurance to get paid faster and with fewer errors, said Matt Hawkins, the company’s newly named CEO.
Waystar’s work is all the more relevant in the era of high-deductible health plans that ask consumers to shoulder more out-of-pocket expenses, he said.
“We feel a tremendous responsibility to help make healthcare better, and now we feel like we can do that, given our scale,” Hawkins said during a recent interview at his office at ZirMed Tower in Louisville.
With the backing of its owner, Boston-based private equity firm Bain Capital, Waystar has aggressive growth plans in coming years and is “certainly considering” an initial public offering on the stock market, Hawkins said.
He declined to disclose Waystar's revenue.
Waystar employs roughly 300 to 400, Hawkins said, at ZirMed’s 10-year-old office tower at 888 W. Market Street.
Whether Louisville will benefit from the merger that created Waystar -- or fall victim to corporate consolidation -- remains to be seen.
Waystar has not named a headquarters city, preferring instead to maintain three co-equal offices.
“In the modern era, we think that’s OK,” Hawkins said.
The other offices are in the Atlanta area (the home of Navicure) and in Chicago, the home of the former MethodCare, a predictive analytics company that ZirMed bought in 2014.
Hawkins, meanwhile, splits time between the three offices and his home in Arizona, where his children are in school.
“I spend time in each of our offices, and it works,” he said.
But regardless which city -- or whether any city -- ultimately becomes Waystar’s base, Hawkins said the hope is to add jobs in Louisville.
“I think there is certainly opportunity for us to grow here ... I suspect that we will add quite a few team members,” he said, without being more specific.
For now, the company has to focus on getting customers used to its new name by using terminology like, "ZirMed, now known as Waystar," Hawkins said.
"Ultimately we will become just Waystar, but we want to bring people together with us on that journey," he said.
Hawkins said the company thought about doing business under either the ZirMed or Navicure names, but, "It just didn't seem right to put one over the other ... We thought, lets create something new and special."