Interview with Dr. Fisayo Ositelu

In this week's interview, Dr. Fisayo Ositelu explains how technology, including artificial intelligence (A.I.), can help save small group practices.

Dr. Ositelu completed an MD and MBA, graduating from Stanford University with both degrees in 2013. Rather than attend a clinical residency, he chose to leverage his education by working in Silicon Valley. Using his medical and business training, he helped his first employer develop and sell products to healthcare organizations and financial institutions.

In June of 2019, he cofounded Gentem where he now serves as CEO. Gentem’s mission is to help physicians get reimbursed better and faster with less administrative cost. It does this by leveraging technology such as artificial intelligence, automation, and applied data analytics to streamline and accelerate the reimbursement process.

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The Classic Silicon Valley Approach

During our conversation, Fisayo explains how he followed the classic Silicon Valley approach to starting the company. 

I always wanted to be an entrepreneur. And at that time there was a lot of excitement about tech and it just made a lot of sense. – Dr. Fisayo Ositelu

He tapped into his network of investors, including former MBA program classmates, and identified a few key angel investors. And he explains in detail the start-up of his company, should we wish to emulate what he has done.

Revenue Cycle AI Saves Small Group Practices

Some employed physicians dream about returning to private practice. But the hassles of running a practice can be overwhelming. And if a practice cannot quickly bill and collect for its services, it will struggle to succeed.

Fisayo describes how his company is helping to save small group practices by improving their revenue cycle management and cash flow. Gentem has gone a step further, by offering some clients the ability to access current accounts receivable when needed, rather than seek expensive short-term loans.


Gentem and companies like it can simplify the business side of private practice. By making them easier to run, they might save small group practices.

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Transcription PNC Episode 205
How Revenue Cycle AI Can Save Small Group Practices
Interview with Dr. Fisayo Ositelu

John: I was introduced to today's guest by a previous guest, Omar Khateeb from episode 194, because he works for today's guest who's the CEO of Gentem. So, I would like to welcome Dr. Fisayo Ositelu. Welcome to the podcast.

Dr. Fisayo Ositelu: Thank you, John. It's a pleasure to be here.

John: This is going to be fun. It's cool to have a couple of guests from the same place. We had Omar on because we were talking about branding and marketing and that kind of thing. But as soon as I was doing the background check on him, I found that, oh, wait, he works for a company that is founded and run by a physician. And let's see, who's the CEO and so forth. So, this would be really interesting today.
We're going to get into the details, but why don't you start by telling us a little bit about your background, your education in particular. And I'm sure my audience is going to want to know how and why you decided to go the MBA MD route rather than pursue let's say a residency.

Dr. Fisayo Ositelu: Absolutely. It's nice to be here and thank you for having me. I'm originally from West Africa, a country called Nigeria, and I came out here for college back in the day. The whole idea was to become a doctor. I came here to the United States to become a doctor from the get-go. My parents were in the medical field and so, I had a lot of context and background to this space.

I did my undergraduate at Johns Hopkins pre-med, molecular cell biology and then decided to come out to the west, which is where I am today. I did my MD at Stanford School of Medicine, over in Palo Alto. And one of the reasons why I chose Stanford instead of some other medical schools is because it had a very, we called it open campus policy where you can essentially take classes at any department.

So, I ended up taking classes in law school, engineering school, and of course the business as well. The curriculum was also way ahead of his time in my opinion. It was all pass/fail. That might've changed now, but at the time I was there, it was all pass/fail. And so, I really got a chance to really explore and really see all the cool things that the university had to offer. And Stanford is a world-class university, so I definitely got a lot of exposure to those other spaces. My idea in being a doctor was not just to be a clinician, but also to do something more, more than that. Especially coming from another country and seeing how much things can be improved on a systems level.

I went through my first couple of years to take step one, all that good stuff. And when I started, when I got into clinics into my rotations, I noticed something that would essentially make me pivot away from clinical care while I loved my patients and I did enjoy interacting with them. I just could not really get over the fact, overall the administrative work that I was doing even as a med student. I look over at my attending and they're not doing that much better than I am with respect to the notes and running all over the place and all that stuff. And at the end of the day, I could not really put myself in their shoes long-term. I could not see myself doing what they were doing in the long term. And so, I decided to long story short, take a different approach and go in the nontraditional route, so to speak.

John: Very interesting. You must be a really quick learner because I think in medical school and even in residency, we're kind of shielded from all that paperwork sometimes. And at least in my experience, personally, of course, that was in another century, but the way med students and occasional residency interface with now, I still don't think they know what they're in for when they really get into practicing. They're going to be basically spending two-thirds of their time doing things that don't really directly affect an individual patient. And a lot of them are going to be upset.

Dr. Fisayo Ositelu: Yeah, that's crazy.

John: You notice that early on, so that's awesome. And then when I was looking at your LinkedIn profile, I thought, well, maybe he did an MD-PhD program because there are schools that say, okay, you come in to the program, but you obviously were kind of on a mission to learn what you could and then you were just drawn to the business side of things apparently.

Dr. Fisayo Ositelu: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So, as I said, I learned a lot in my time at Stanford, especially in the first couple of years when I still had some time. And once you end up in clinics, it's all-consuming. So, around the end of my third year, I decided to actually apply to business school and to see if I got in and just keep my fingers crossed about that possibility.
I had also looked into consulting. So, the usual suspects, McKinsey, I think they had the professional non-traditional sort of pathway. So, if you're an MD or a PhD, you have a master's and those kinds of things. I looked into that as well but I ended up being lucky enough to get into the business school of Stanford, which was a fantastic place.

I think one of the reasons why it really stands out even amongst other business schools is it's focused on entrepreneurship and really how immersed the school is in the broader tech ecosystem. And so, I was lucky to have the opportunity to be a part of that, and definitely immersed myself in the venture capital world and the startup world and more so to be able to vary in a good network of people that can help out.

John: So, that was part of the experience in the business school. It was getting involved with, like you said, the venture capital or at least learning about it and being exposed to that.

Dr. Fisayo Ositelu: Oh yeah, yeah, absolutely. The interesting thing is that with business schools, most of what you learn is fairly standard. Finance, accounting, strategy. It's really the relationships you build that count. So, the network of people, the relationships, those are the softer things that really make the difference in my opinion.

John: Well actually that's something that I hear about all the time in almost any MBA program, is that one of the biggest things is just the networking and getting to work with a team or you've got projects you're working on.

Even our sponsor, Haslam College of Business - The University of Tennessee, they have 700 grads. So, in a way, they have a network of like 700 and they're all physicians. That's a physician-only executive MBA. So that's what I hear a lot.

Dr. Fisayo Ositelu: Yeah, the MBAs are very interesting. Coming from the medical space, I had not done any kind of business before I went directly from high school to college then from college to med school directly. So, I was fairly young, being in a class with seasoned professionals, people that run companies or executives. It was intimidating. It was not a cakewalk. And you are expected or you were expected to actually share your thoughts and opinions and analysis on things on business problems in front of everybody. We did a case approach where they give you a case and they'd ask you questions and you'd have to speak about these things.

Now coming from med school, we just sat and listened to our professors and memorized a bunch of stuff to pass the exam. It's kind of different. And it took a lot of getting used to. So, there's just one thing for the folks listening, there's a difference in how you approach things in medicine versus business or in a business school setting.

John: Now you made it through. So, what was your next step? Obviously, you never planned on going to residency. So, you were looking for that next thing after you graduated. So how did you make that segue? What were the first one or two things you were involved with?

Dr. Fisayo Ositelu: Yeah. I did not apply to residency at all. And a lot of people thought I was crazy and maybe still think I am crazy.

John: Does that include your parents?

Dr. Fisayo Ositelu: Yeah. Initially, they were skeptical, especially while you spent all this time when I just went through it. But after business school, I started off my career at a startup. It is now a much bigger company called NerdWallet. It's a FinTech company here in San Francisco and their whole mission is to provide the best financial advice for all of life's financial decisions. They provide you very detailed advice on financial products to bring transparency into just financial decisions.

And so, I got my start there. It was a really great opportunity because I joined early on and there were growing and I had a chance to wear many hats. In that startup, I worked with some great people. I learned a lot. And thinking about the transition from academia or medical school to the business world, that was another thing working outside of a lab or in the medical university setting to actual fast-growing, fast-based startup. It was another big transition that I had to work on surmounting.

John: Now was that something where you thought, "Well, I'll probably be here for a few years". Did you always have an idea in the back of your mind that you were going to start something yourself?

Dr. Fisayo Ositelu: Yeah. I've always had that in the back of my mind. In fact, right after school or after business school, I was working on some ideas, but it didn't quite pan out. And so, I joined NerdWallet. I always loved entrepreneurship. Stanford really exposed me to a lot of great, great entrepreneurs. Some of them were my classmates. So, for instance, DoorDash, Tony Xu was my classmate in my class. We sat together in a couple of classes, my class, my section. A lot of companies were started around the time I was at Stanford. So, between 2007 and 2013. Snapchat and just a lot of great companies that came up. And so, yeah, I always wanted to be an entrepreneur. And at that time there was a lot of excitement about tech and it just made a lot of sense.

John: How did you feel like it was going to be something in the healthcare field originally, or is that still an open option and then maybe something else? How did you actually decide to get into what you're doing now?

Dr. Fisayo Ositelu: Yeah. I always liked healthcare as a space, especially for innovation entrepreneurship, because there's just a lot of need. There's a lot of waste. There's a lot of opportunity. There's a lot of frustration, especially with doctors and physicians who are really at the front lines and really trying to affect a change in their patient's lives. And so luckily, I had some exposure to their frustrations because I had worked in FinTech. And it's going to segue into what I'm doing right now with Gentem. I could really wear many hats of understanding the FinTech world, financial technology, as well as the healthcare world, and then the intersection between FinTech and healthcare to provide value.

One big thing, one big problem we're solving is this problem of reimbursements, reimbursement to doctors and all the administrative hassle and overhead and complexity that goes into getting paid. I'm sure you know it seems to be always one new hoop to jump and one new technology and it's just a little hodgepodge of stuff. And so, that's essentially what we're trying to solve at Gentem. Really simplifying, accelerating, and just really bringing some clarity to this financial experience for doctors.

Whether they are solo practitioners, whether they are a group of doctors, whether they're surgery or just medical groups and things like that, how do we help those doctors thrive financially? How do we help them stay independent? How do we help them take away the burden of these administrative hassles? We're starting with RCM, the revenue cycle, but we have much bigger plans. So yeah, essentially at Gentem we are focused on really removing those administrative burdens and getting doctors paid what's on time and in full.

John: Okay. Well, you bring up a sore topic there, as far as billing and reimbursement, because to a physician most of us, there's definitely some barriers that are built-in, maybe inadvertently, the technology is not that good, mistakes are made. On the other hand, sometimes it seems like they just make it complicated so they don't have to pay us. So, that might only be a small part hopefully, but if you can automate something and design a system that can kind of get through all those hoops in a quicker way, then definitely will help, especially the small practice owners.

Dr. Fisayo Ositelu: Yeah. Yeah. And prior to starting Genten, which we started a couple of years ago, I worked briefly in private equity and I was responsible for running some revenue cycle businesses that work with large health systems. And so, I got some exposure there as well. But I still wanted to come back to the doctors, the non-acute care, the folks that are really on the front line. How do we provide an infrastructure?

So, a lot of people talk about automation. We do automation as well, but how do we bridge in that FinTech side of the house whereby for instance, we can provide access to capital, right? Instead, you have to wait weeks, months to get paid. Why not just get paid after seeing the patient? The technology is there, it's being done in other industries, why do we have to wait weeks? Why not whenever you submit a claim, have the opportunity to get the funds or the revenue associated with that visit?

And so, that's what we've done. We're innovating not only in the pure deep technology side, we are using automation and artificial intelligence to really understand the data and optimize that process, but also to start deploying capital using that data that we have. So, we understand the kinds of claims you're sending, we understand the risk behind every single claim because of how we're using the data. And then deploying capital based on that data.

So, in that respect, we have skin in the game because we're deploying our capital while on the backend, we are trying to be covered by the insurance companies. We're seen more as partners versus just your random billing company. And that's essentially what we want to do, because we were looking at this stuff more holistically. And how do we actually empower our doctors, our physicians, our healthcare providers to be able to thrive, to be able to grow, to be able to stay independent, to resist the tides of being acquired, because that's just what happens these days. And we've seen the numbers around how much private practices are dwindling down.

But we know it's not good for the system because care is actually more expensive in those hospital settings. It's way more expensive. The reimbursement is different for the same exact thing, and the quality is not always better. Some are actually mostly worse. And so, we see these things and it's imperative for us to try to really support our doctors.

John: Oh, you hit on so many things there. I just got to reflect on my own situation. My wife needs an MRI and she's been denied twice for a foot MRI that a
rheumatologist ordered. So, ultimately, I picked up the phone and I called the freestanding center, and I got her foot MRI for $350. Even at the hospital I said, I'm going to pay cash. What's it going to cost me? Well, it's going to be $1,000 plus we don't even know what the professional part is going to be. I said, okay. That's just one example.

And I think on the other side, the physician side, the other option is if you're not near retirement you really don't want to give up your practice. It's like, I'm just going to go to a cash-only practice. I just can't deal with this. And we're going to hire three people to do my billing. And I get paid only 70 cents on the dollar to begin with. And then there's a whole lag that you've mentioned. So that'll be awesome if Gentem can really help solve some of those problems.

Dr. Fisayo Ositelu: Yeah, yeah. I think you made a good point. And this is what the industry needs, even the cash-only direct primary care, just different ways to drive innovation, whether it's telehealth and all these things. Yeah, I think these are all good developments in the industry and everyone needs to be on their toes, even the payers or the insurance companies. And the more options people have, the better. It's always better the more options you have.

John: Absolutely. Okay so let's take a little detour now since you're the CEO and you're an entrepreneur and a startup expert.

Dr. Fisayo Ositelu: I don't know about an expert but...

John: You have been through it so I'm assuming there's a lot of technology in this and programming maybe and other things. And so, I'm assuming you didn't fund this yourself unless you have this big equity firm or something on the side that we don't know about. Tell us about that, the real big, tall steps. What was the process? Where did you get the idea, who did you partner with and why? And then what'd you guys do in terms of trying to get this thing off the ground, just to get it started?

Dr. Fisayo Ositelu: So, my co-founder is a buddy of mine, from college. He didn't go to the same college, but he was college buddies with my younger brother. And he was an engineer at Facebook, just living the dream and somehow, I convinced him to quit that nice job and come to Gentem for nothing. That was probably the most important step in this whole thing, finding a good co-founder, a good team aligned in vision and just willing to really stay in the trenches with you when things get bad, because they're always some rough patches. Like I said, I've worked in private equity where I was running some of these RCM companies and I'd also worked at NerdWallet.

So, a lot of the ideas came from those two places. That's the importance of really looking at whatever you do, you just have to learn and try to get the most out of it. It might not be obvious but in hindsight, you'd find that you're gaining something that could be helpful. To always try to maximize your experience and learnings from anything.

And part of the thing that really helped me out was the co-founder of NerdWallet. I had gotten to know him when I was there and we kept in touch. His name was Jake Gibson and he has a firm called Better Tomorrow Ventures. He was an active angel investor. And I reached out to him and shared the idea and he liked it. I feel that most people understand the friction, even as patients, they face their medical bills. And so, he could relate to that piece and this small piece. And then there's this whole other thing of eligibility, profit realizations, and all of these other things that you have to manage. He was an early backer of ours. I also was lucky too, to have some other entrepreneurs that were also very, very excited to work with me.

The lesson there is to have a good team, obviously a good team of executives and people that you work with, but also a good team of backers and finding folks that believe in what you're trying to do, to solve the problem. In the early stages, you're selling yourself. In the early stages is the team that really counts because you don't have anything, you don't have any data, you don't have any revenues or anything like that. You have some data, but you don't really have something that is as big yet.

So, it's really the team, one, and believe it or not, the idea is good, but it's not the most important thing. The exact idea is not the most important thing, because that could change. You could iterate on that, but it's really the vision. What is the future state of the world you want to see, or you are pushing towards? How you get there might be different. So, those are the milestones. A great co-founder, and also working with some really strong angel investors that were really able to open the doors for us.

John: I'm not really that familiar with this kind of startup situation, but the investors oftentimes are also bringing a lot of expertise in, in terms of maybe they know someone that solves a problem you have, or they have another solution they're working on, or maybe they spend some time actually working. I don't know how that works. It's a question I have. So, explain that a little bit.

Dr. Fisayo Ositelu: Yeah. Different investors bring different things. Some bring expertise, some just give you the money and get out of your hair which sometimes is great. In fact, it's more often than not great. Some offer expertise in sales and strategy and whatnot, or even product development.

So, in our case, we got a lot of strong FinTech investors. So, Jake Gibson, some really great, great folks and our seed investor Susa Ventures, they were investors in RobinHood for instance. They invested in RobinHood, the popular app for investing. We also worked with a series A investor, a group called Vulcan Capital, which is based out of Seattle. Great, great, great folks there as well.

John: Well, I'm going to shift gears again, and just ask you, how has it been going? You started roughly two years ago. I don't know at what stage that was. I'm looking at your website. I see you've got a head of marketing.

Dr. Fisayo Ositelu: Omar.

John: What is his official title?

Dr. Fisayo Ositelu: Head of growth marketing.

John: There's a lot of going on.

Dr. Fisayo Ositelu: Yeah.

John: So, how's it going?

Dr. Fisayo Ositelu: Yeah, it's going well. So, in 2019, when we launched the company, we did a proof of concept that year. Just really validated the idea and did some pilots. We really launched last year, which was interesting because COVID hit, but it's been going well, it's been going well. I think we are really staying true to our mission to focus on helping doctors and healthcare providers stay independent. We continue to build very great products, whether it's in automation and how we're using the data to how we deploy capital to these practices.

We're really focused now on building a holistic infrastructure whereby we can support practices at different stages of their evolution of whether or not they're starting, or they are in steady state, or they want to grow. We have different solutions for those practices. Whether they have a specific problem, wherever they are leaking in revenue, whether it's an efficiency problem, whether it's really helping up level the staff, whether it's consulting. And so, in some regards, we're really looking at these holistically so that we can help them thrive and remain independent. That's literally what our vision is. How can we help them thrive while being independent?

And yeah, we're always learning. I feel like every day we don't have all the answers. We really relish engaging with doctors. Because I am a physician, even though I didn't go through residency, I think our team, our DNA is a little bit different from just the other folks, because we have context, we have that deep empathy into what's going on. And one of our values is just having a low ego. It's literally one of our values, no ego, because that just enables us to listen and listen fully and be able to not mind rolling up our sleeves to do what needs to be done to make an impact. So, yeah, that's how things are going.

John: If I had to force you to say, who would your ideal customer be? What would be the picture of that person? Would it be a three-person group? Would it be any particular specialty? Someone who's struggling to collect more than, whatever? An AR that's at some level that's not working, what would you say?

Dr. Fisayo Ositelu: Yeah, we work with a range of practices. We do a lot of work with surgical subspecialties. We do a lot of work with vascular surgeons for instance, orthopedic surgeons. We also work with pain doctors. And lastly, we have quite a few customers in behavioral health. As you can imagine, it's a growing space, whether it's psychiatrist or therapists. It's a growing space.

For us, like I said, our ideal customers today are folks that are working really hard, getting revenue, but they know something is not quite right. They know that there is some frustration with really optimizing their revenue and feeling like they are doing the right thing. And so, for us, we come in there and really help them identify the leakage money left on the table, plug those, and then really amplify them for growth.

So oftentimes even like 15% - 20% bumps in revenue, which is where we benchmark in terms of our incremental benefit working with these groups. That can mean a lot of things. That can mean investing for instance, like a TMS chair, for those doing transcranial magnetic stimulation, as some of our customers. It could mean just more investing in marketing or growing to a new practice, opening a new center, which we've done for a couple of our customers.

So, those things really count. It could mean giving your staff a bonus. These things really count. And so, it really depends on where they are as folks that mostly know that there's a problem and they know that things could be better. And so, once we give them our value proposition, we have great, great folks, professionals, certified coders and billers that have decades of experience in some cases. They know that we have the technology and they also know that we have the capital. So, we have the capital, we have the people, we have the process and the technology. And then bringing all those things to bear is what really makes this a really revolutionary way of helping these practices thrive.

John: Now, just one other final question on Gentem itself and where you are. Healthcare is kind of local. A lot of insurance carriers, people we're dealing with are local and there're rules and regs at each state. So, is this currently more of a California thing, a regional thing? How does that work for Gentem?

Dr. Fisayo Ositelu: Yeah. Believe it or not, we're nationwide. So, we have customers all over the country from California to Florida, to Massachusetts to Texas, all over the country. I think the key thing is really understanding the payer policies and understanding, as you mentioned, things can be different with each state and each region, while you just have to have the ability to do that at scale and nationwide to build a big company. And for us, we're venture backed. So, the way we think about the business, it has to be big and we're not just building a mom-and-pop type operation.

John: Right. Well, I just want to make sure if someone's listening and they're in New York or they're in Texas, and they're like, "Oh, I don't know if this applies to me because they're in Silicon Valley". You're saying, basically you put the contracts from the payers and what have you, all that can be done, it doesn't really matter where you're located.

Dr. Fisayo Ositelu: Exactly.

John: So, let me see. We're going to run out of time. But tell us, the easiest way to get a hold of you and learn more is just to go to is that right?

Dr. Fisayo Ositelu: Definitely go to if you are interested in learning more about our company, our startup. And if you want to see a demo of what we built, we would love to show you. You can also reach me personally on LinkedIn. I'm pretty active there. Fisayo Ositelu on LinkedIn and Twitter as well. I'm pretty active. I try to check those channels, but mostly LinkedIn. We'll be happy to chat about Gentem, career advice and any way that I can be helpful. I know I learned a lot from mentors and people that really helped me out when I was coming up as well. And I still am.

John: Oh, before we let the listeners go and let you go. Any advice for someone who is thinking, "I think I could do something like this". Maybe they have a little business background, maybe they need to go get the MBA first. But if someone really had an idea that they thought "Well, I could have an impact on healthcare" whether it's payments or delivery or whatever it might be, what would you advise them to do to get started?

Dr. Fisayo Ositelu: Well, you don't need to get an MBA. I'll tell you that. But one thing that really helped us out or help me out is you're going to get a lot of "noes", unless you're lucky. But we got a lot of "noes". The key thing there is to have the ability to transmute these "noes" into fuel that energize you. It's sort of a weird thing, but we use the "noes" as a way to energize us even more. Obviously, you have to listen to the feedback and be close to feedback, but the noes can be brutal in this game. But the key is to find a way to transmute those noes to fuel that power your vision. And it's not as easy as it sounds, but once you can do that, your whole perspective changes as regarding this entrepreneurship or trying out a new endeavor, a new venture. And it's almost like a superpower, if you can get it right.

John: If you have the right mindset, you can probably do almost anything I suppose.

Dr. Fisayo Ositelu: Right. Go for no.

John: Go for no. All right. Well, I appreciate that. And I will put links in the show notes to everything there, the website and the LinkedIn and all that. And I guess with that, I want to thank you for spending the time describing your story to us and giving us some good advice and encouragement.

Dr. Fisayo Ositelu: Thank you, John. I enjoyed the time as well.

John: All right. Well, you take care, Fisayo. I will talk to you again soon hopefully. Bye-bye.

Dr. Fisayo Ositelu: Thank you. Bye-bye.


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