By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
The recent winner of the inaugural “Nashville Startup Week” pitch competition is a company that has developed a proprietary technology solution designed to identify the best candidates for premium cataract surgery procedures.
Surgiorithm was incorporated about a year ago by Amnon Keynan, an Israeli-born serial entrepreneur, and Diane Weiner, an executive with 35 years experience in the healthcare sector. They were joined by Shawn Chapman as the third Co-Founder. He’s a veteran of several Middle Tennessee technology start-ups.
We first met the Surgiorithm team in late 2016 when it won a Venture Forum co-sponsored by Launch Tennessee and Life Science Tennessee.
Keynan says the start-up “developed its high-touch consumer-focused technology in collaboration with cataract surgeons and software product and healthcare information technology leaders.” The secret sauce is a proven algorithm that is designed to significantly improve both practice revenue and patient satisfaction.
“While patients wait for their consultation, they use a simple, interactive iPad app asking them questions to help determine the best IOL (intraocular lens) option for their lifestyle and preferences,” Keynan explains. “The results are immediately sent to the practice team in a concise and customizable dashboard that predicts the patient’s readiness to choose a premium self-pay option.”
During a recent interview with the Surgiorithm team at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, I took time to go through the Q & A process that a patient would experience. My Ophthalmologist has been monitoring cataracts in both eyes for at least 15 years and has told me that I will know when it is time. That day is rapidly approaching, and the process of determining my options and desires was insightful.
“What we bring is the ability to look at patients as individuals,” Keynan explains. “When you need surgery, there are options, and the decision will impact the patient’s sight for the rest for his/her life. We help patients and surgeons discuss and decide on their best fit product based on outcomes.”
For the surgeons, answers to the questions asked can also help determine if the patient is interested in self-pay options beyond those covered by healthcare plans. One such item is an advanced IOL, something that my wife chose years ago to correct a 20/400 eyesight problem. She no longer wears contacts and rarely wears reading glasses.
Obviously, selecting an option above the basic coverage for cataract surgery is more revenue for the surgeon.
Surgiorithm has been beta-testing the tool in a few practices, mostly with patients in the 60- to 75-year old demographic. The results thus far show a 95 percent completion rate in terms of the iPad-based questionnaire and a 90 percent patient satisfaction score.
Weiner says the start-up has been self-funded thus far, and is now raising about $400,000 in convertible debt. With the beta testing over, Surgiorithm is ramping up sales with plans to focus initially in Chattanooga, Memphis, and Nashville, Atlanta four where they have customers already.
“We are focused on the 50 to 60 percent of the 9,000 cataract surgeons in the U.S. whose volume of premium services is at the national average and who want to do much better supported by a scalable technology,” Weiner adds.
While Ophthalmologists and cataract surgery are the initial focus, Keynan acknowledges the platform that Surgiorithm has developed has applications in other healthcare practices involving elective surgeries.