The cataract surgery patient experience in many practices is broken. Couple this with a commercial process that asks a person to make a high-value decision at the same time they learn they need surgery and you may agree that something must change. What’s great is a Nashville start-up, Surgiorithm, is just what doctor’s need!

How did we get here?

Ophthalmology practices are busy places. Future demographic trends for patients and doctors indicate this will only get worse. Reimbursement for cataract surgery is declining and no data shows this getting better. In fact, if you’re the wagering type, put your money on reductions.

Necessity is the mother of invention. Busy ophthalmologists and their staffs learned to quickly move people through clinics to serve cataract surgery patients and drive revenue. Surgical procedure advances gained time, new equipment created efficiencies in the office and the machine hummed.

When did the cataract surgery patient experience begin to matter?

One word: LASIK. Why? Because LASIK introduced an aspirational element to how people see. People all of a sudden learned that the vision they’ve struggled with all of their lives can change. All with a 10-minute procedure.

These same people are now cataract surgery patients or connected to one. As a result, the cataract surgery patient experience is evolving. Also, these same surgeons who built spa-like practices to serve LASIK patients are now focused on marketing and delivering on outcomes with upgraded cataract surgery procedures.

Is LASIK killing the cataract-only surgeon?

Data shows these experiential LASIK surgeons are skimming the cream off of the cataract surgery market and leaving the “standard” cataract surgeon in the dust from both volume and profit perspectives. Sadly, many doctors are fine with this and it’s their patients who miss out.

You, see doctors are doing so much surgery out of necessity that many tell me, “My patients won’t pay for the upgraded surgery, they’re too poor.” Oh yeah? Market data suggests otherwise because the Baby Boomer generation controls a lot of wealth. The truth is, many practices don’t convey value, educate about options and instead are satisfied, dare I say sometimes encouraged, to sign people up for standard procedures and send Grandma out of the clinic with the glasses she’s worn all of her life. What a shame.

Don’t you believe me? Marketscope data shows that the percentage of Astigmatism and Presbyopia-correcting IOLs implanted in the US remains in the 14-15% neighborhood. Knowing that many of the LASIK only surgeons who went back into cataract surgery convert at 75-80% rate demonstrates that their non-LASIK colleagues woefully underperform in this arena.

A chance introduction that helped me glimpse the future

At the Ophthalmology Innovation Summit at the ASCRS meeting last spring, I was visiting with an industry colleague, John Grant of Amsurg, and asked him what was new. He said, “Surgiorithm.” Huh? “That’s a cool name, but what’s Surgiorithm,” I asked.

John told me about this company in Nashville started by three Entrepreneur’s, none of whom came from ophthalmology, focused on helping doctors add efficiency, satisfaction, and profit to their cataract surgery patient experiences. John connected me with the founders (Amnon Keynan, Diane Weiner, and Shawn Chapman) because he knows this is an area of interest for me.

After learning more about Surgiorithm, I am an advocate for them in the market. I tell anyone who will listen about why they exist, how they do it and the dent I believe they’ll put in the ophthalmology market. I do this because they are aiming to help patients AND doctors improve the front-end process of the cataract surgery patient process.

Humility, iteration, and commitment to ROI

Since I met Amnon, Diane, and Shawn on a phone call, I’ve come to know them as an amazing team. They are each successful in their own right and humble enough as entrepreneurs to seek advice, listen, iterate their software and stay focused on delivering ROI and practice efficiency to their surgeon clients and their staff’s. I’ve served as an informal advisor to them since that first call and I enjoy witnessing three people working closely, cost-effectively and strategically to scale a business.

They’re winning and I think it’s terrific! What’s great is the ultimate benefit is an improved cataract surgery patient experience.

As an example, the first time I spoke with them, they were delivering the platform on iPads in the offices and working with staff on integration. The feedback they heard was that the information they were obtaining was helpful but offices didn’t need another device to interact with during a busy clinic day. Team Surgiorithm went to work and developed the at-home version that now has doctors saying, “Wow!”

What Problems Does Surgiorithm Solve?

Surgiorithm addresses problems most practices are facing:

1. Patients are arriving for consults unprepared and can’t absorb all the information in one session. Surgiorithm steps forward in the process and helps patients consider options and get educated before they arrive, clog-up your schedule with questions or, worse yet, say nothing and learn later they had options they were willing to invest in.

2. The cataract evaluation workflow is labor intensive. The Surgiorithm platform creates efficiency because you know where to focus your time and supplement understanding. In addition, segmentation of incoming patients makes the cataract surgery patient experience smoother for everyone.

3. Premium package upsell opportunities are missed, especially on busy days. Yes, you read that right. Upsell. An informed patient is more likely to understand the available value and is more likely to make choices that grow your revenue. If you don’t want to sell, Surgiorithm is for you.

How can a predictive algorithm help improve the cataract surgery patient experience and dent ophthalmology?

For too long, medical practices focused on looking backward with EMR/EHR integration. This is a worthy pursuit, but it’s time to look forward. The commercial process in many medical practices is either non-existent or broken.

Tomorrow’s successful practice will employ a defined, repeatable and iterative commercial process. A delineated process is not at cross-purposes with the clinician. In fact, it saves her time because she knows what the patient wants as an outcome of the interaction. This will make the cataract surgery patient experience better and more productive.

Surgiorithm offers doctors and their staff a patient-focused, cost-effective method to soft-sell patients and helps them make better decisions. After all, I’ve heard many times in my travels into practices around the US that doctors don’t want to sell. Surgiorithm provides unique insights into patient desires so doctors feel comfortable educating a patient that is informed and ready to upgrade.

The Surgiorithm Process

The Surgiorithm Process

If you’ve ever sat in your office at the end of a busy clinic day, scanned the industry publications piled on your desk, noticed the headlines touting the “patient experience” and thought, “Just what I need, another thing to do,” Get in touch with Amnon or Diane at Surgiorithm. You’ll be happy you did!

*I have no financial interest in Surgiorithm. After 27 years in the industry of ophthalmology, when I see something that excites me, it’s fun to tell people about it because it may help them.


  1. Diane Weiner on February 2, 2018 at 10:17 am

    Joel, Thank you! It is wonderful to have you recognize the work we are doing with Ophthalmology!
    We believe that when patients and doctors are better prepared, everyone wins…and the game is changed.

    Diane Weiner, Co-Founder, Surgiorithm

  2. Bala Ambati on October 30, 2019 at 8:48 pm

    I would be interested in Surgiorithm for our practice

    • Joel on October 31, 2019 at 5:33 am

      Thanks for commenting, Bala. I’ll have someone from Surgriorithm follow-up with you.

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