By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
What might seem like a small shift in approach – allowing individuals to complete a preparation session at home rather than in an eye doctor’s office – has made a big difference for Nashville’s Surgiorithm and its inaugural product named ClearUp.
We first met Amnon Keynan, Founder of the start-up, when the company won Life Science Tennessee’s “Venture Match” in late 2016. A few months later, we posted this teknovation.biz article describing the company’s proprietary technology solution designed to identify the best candidates for premium cataract surgery procedures as a way to increase income for eye doctors and satisfaction for their patients.
What Keynan and Co-Founder Diane Weiner were pursuing was a matter of great interest to us; we were considering cataract surgery at the time and have since done so, selecting the upgraded lenses.
Fast forward 18 months, and Keynan says the shift in location where patients complete the evaluation preparation session “was a breakthrough for us.” More important is the fact that he has data to prove the point.
In its inaugural approach, Surgiorithm had patients complete a preparation session in the doctor’s office to help assess the likelihood that they were candidates for the more expensive lenses that were not covered by insurance. What are the advantages? In my case, the surgery corrected a long-standing astigmatism condition. My vision is now 20-20.
“Patients (trying to complete the preparation session) at the practice are nervous and reserved,” Keynan explained. The result is uncertainty in many cases as demonstrated by the data that Surgiorithm had collected in clinic settings prior to the change.
“Once at the evaluation appointment, 61 percent said ‘No’ to the self-pay premium upgrades, 18 percent said ‘Maybe,’ and 21 percent said ‘Yes,’” Keynan reported, noting that nearly two-thirds stated they were not interested in contemplating options beyond what insurance would cover. Once the same preparation session was moved to the home environment – that’s the only option now – the results changed significantly. Those saying “No” dropped from 61 percent to 41 percent while those saying “Yes” or “Maybe” increased from 39 to 59 percent.
“People can do so much better preparation at home,” Keynan says. “They have more time, can watch videos we provide, and can talk to others – friends and family.” Patient satisfaction with the new online approach, as measured by Surgiorithm, has reached 94 percent.
So, how does the shift to completing the preparation session at home actually work?
“The patients are scheduled by the doctor, then electronically referred to us,” Keynan explains. The initial process involves Surgiorithm – under the practice’s name and logo – sending an email to the patient on behalf of the doctor to introduce the preparation session.
“The first thing we do is call the patient and tell them the doctor wants you to be better prepared for the appointment,” he says. During that call, the Surgiorithm person points-out important information outlined in the email such as links to educational videos that can be viewed and three or four options for the patient to consider as she or he completes the questionnaire.
The change has been good for Surgiorithm’s bottom line. The start-up is generating revenue of five figures a month with clients located across the country. Its largest is in Southern California. In all, Keynan says 800 patients are using the Surgiorithm product each month, with a runway to 1,200 patients by January, 2019.
Surgiorithm also recently integrated its technology into the practice’s preferred financing provider via an informational link. Paying via monthly payment plans is a major option for individuals who elect to finance upgraded procedures like cataract surgery.
“We have shown it is real,” he says. “We are happy with where we are. We bring value to patients, doctors, manufacturers (of lenses), and financing service providers.”
Keynan adds that the Surgiorithm platform is “the voice of the patient” to the practice, communicating the patient’s desired outcome. Even when everybody is in a rush, “the voice of the patient” is clearly displayed to the doctor.
Next up is a seed round to raise $1.25 million to add staff and scale-up the business.