Streamlining surgery

Ryan Young photo illustration.

When Ryan Young, MD/MBA ’21, sat in on a staff meeting during his anesthesiology rotation at a local hospital as a student, he didn't expect to come away with an idea for a company. 

But after hearing the Perioperative Services director explain that the surgery duration forecasts they received from their electronic medical record system were only 30% accurate, Young knew there had to be a better way. Soon after that meeting, he founded Opollo Technologies, a fintech health care AI company. Their flagship product, the Opollo Ecosystem, is a cloud-based AI platform that learns from a wide range of health care data to optimize operating room scheduling in addition to providing a marketplace for health care facilities to sell the resulting vacancies to health insurance companies.

Operating rooms account for 60% of revenue at hospitals, but inefficiencies in surgical scheduling and duration forecasting cost the U.S. health care system more than $40 billion each year, according to Young. As a medical student on rotations, he saw firsthand that the hospitals had access to data that could be used to improve operating room logistics. Having one operation go longer than scheduled can cause a domino effect, pushing back surgeries throughout the day and frustrating patients, surgeons, operating room staff and facility executives. Alternatively, surgeries that finish sooner than expected result in missed opportunities to care for more patients and missed revenue opportunities for health care facilities.

Early performance of Opollo, the surgery duration forecasting algorithm, indicates that health care facilities could save about $10 million per year and generate an additional $3 million in annual revenue. The company operates on a monthly subscription and risk-sharing model, taking a percentage of savings instead of a flat fee. The company also plans to develop the Opollo Exchange, a marketplace where health care facilities can monetize their efficiency by selling empty surgery time slots to health insurance companies. 

Young founded Opollo Technologies in 2019 and shortly after participating in the Panasci Technology Entrepreneurship Competition (TEC) hosted by UB’s Blackstone LaunchPad & Techstars. 

“I finished as semifinalist, and was doing this all by myself,” said Young. “The competition helped me realize I needed to build a team if I wanted to do this seriously.”

He turned to UB’s LaunchPad and its director, Hadar Borden for help and mentoring. He also hired another UB MBA candidate, Anders Rosén, as chief marketing and sales officer, and Pete Turner, a Silicon Valley-based software engineer, as chief technology officer.

“I’ve been involved with the UB LaunchPad for a year and a half and it’s been incredibly beneficial for our growth, from coaching and business development, to preparing us for pitch competitions, to helping us improve our customer discovery process,” said Young. “We’ve learned to focus on satisfying all of our customers’ needs and we’ve spent countless hours crafting business models and products that do exactly that.”

Focusing on developing the skills necessary to run a startup paid off: Young and his team recently won first prize of $25,000 in startup capital and in-kind services valued at $27,000 at the 2021 Panasci TEC, just weeks after placing third in the Blackstone LaunchPad Annual Pitch Competition, held virtually this year at Startup Grind’s Global Conference.

“I’ve been so impressed by Ryan and Anders,” said Hadar Borden. “They are brilliant and focused on creating a solution for the health care industry and the patients who rely on its efficiency. The team is coachable—a character trait essential in entrepreneurs—and they are resourceful, always seeking new connections and leveraging their networks to learn and inform their business. It’s been incredibly rewarding to support this team along their journey. I look forward to what they will accomplish and the impact they will make locally and globally.”

With the money earned from their competition victories, Young is moving full steam ahead with Opollo. He plans to pilot the platform and develop the Opollo Exchange. Though he intends to start small and focused, Young has big visions about how his company can help change the future of health care.

“We’re focused on surgeries now, but ultimately we want the Opollo Exchange to be the platform where medical services are bought and sold,” Young said. “Our country is moving toward value-based care, and the only way we can assess value is to compare. With our Opollo Exchange marketplace, we’re simultaneously allowing health insurance companies to assess the value and efficiency of facilities while empowering health care facilities to improve their operations and accelerate their revenue growth.”