Through its outsourcing solutions, ForTec Medical makes surgical devices mobile, bringing down costs, reducing obsolescence and improving healthcare outcomes for surgeons and patients at its 2,000 hospital partners across the United States.
At a time when the sharing economy is becoming a more widely accepted economic model, with names like Airbnb, Lyft and Uber taking the spotlight, there are companies like ForTec Medical, Inc. which has been a pioneer of the shared economy long before it was popular.
This year, ForTec Medical is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary, a milestone that will recognize its unique business model. The company is celebrating in style. In June, it will officially open its new headquarters, recently built in Hudson, Ohio, the hometown of the company’s founder and visionary, Drew Forhan, the 2013 winner of Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year for healthcare and pharmaceutical services.
“It’s a purpose-built new facility that’s organized perfectly for what we do, which includes a training center for training all of our technicians nationally. It also includes a service lab. We have service engineers that service all of the medical devices that we mobilize, and it has two-and-a-half times more space than our current headquarters,” explained John Voyzey, chief executive officer of ForTec Medical.
As part of the celebrations, the company will pay tribute to Forhan’s courage to take a risk that has improved access to advanced surgical technology and its team of professionals who have increased access to healthcare technology nationwide.
ForTec Medical is good for surgeons, patients and a hospital’s budget. As an outsourcer of mobile medical devices and the skilled technicians who operate them, it has become an indispensable part of healthcare delivery. Each year it assists over 70,000 cases, and the number continues to grow.
The company boasts an impressive repertoire of equipment that sets it apart, and it works to harness the potential of innovations even before they become the standard of care. Its access to industry-leading equipment keeps it current, providing end-users with the most recent technological innovations.
“We’re really lucky in representing the best technologies. One thing Drew is distinctive at is looking around the corner at what surgeons are going to want next. We have access, in some cases privileged access, to the best technologies,” said Voyzey.
“We’re the exclusive mobilizer of a new prostate biopsy technology called the UroNav,” he said, as an example. “We’re the only ones that can mobilize that nationally. It helps to detect high-grade cancer at a rate thirty percent higher than the conventional biopsies, so it’s under huge demand. Our team is on the front lines seeing urologists being extremely satisfied at finding cancers that historically they wouldn’t have found.”
ForTec Medical equipment covers a range of specialties including urological, gynecology, interventional radiology, cardiothoracic, ophthalmology, orthopedic, vascular, neurosurgery, podiatry, non-laser, general surgery and ear, nose and throat (ENT). The company is equipped with nearly one thousand mobile surgical devices such as mobile medical lasers. All of this is supported by a fleet of over two hundred fifty vehicles and its true value: its certified and trained technicians.
“We don’t make any of the surgical technology that we mobilize, and we don’t have our names on a single patent or on a single 510(K) FDA [Food and Drug Administration] approval, so all of our success is due to the connectivity of this team that we have distributed across the nation,” said Voyzey.
These services offer its hospital partners, surgeons and patients a multitude of advantages. Not only does it help a hospital’s profitability by eliminating the need to purchase equipment, but it also avoids obsolescence and saves the time and resources required to train technicians to operate the equipment. Technicians are also readily available at a moment’s notice.
“Don’t underestimate the value of what hospitals see in having a trained technician. When they buy a complicated surgical device, it’s on them to figure out how to staff it and how to train somebody,” Voyzey explained. ForTec Medical’s technicians use the equipment daily and are experts in the field. In fact, one of its technicians was even named employee of the month at a hospital where they were not directly employed.
“The staffing and training headache goes away when they outsource their surgical technology needs to ForTec. It’s a huge benefit to them, in addition to just avoiding capital expense and obsolescence risk. We know that it’s a benefit because there are plenty of situations where it probably makes economic sense for the hospital to buy the equipment, but they continue to rent equipment from us on a per-procedure basis because we provide the trained staff,” said Voyzey.
ForTec Medical has come a long way from its humble beginnings in Forhan’s garage in 1988 when he put together enough money to purchase a yttrium-aluminum-garnet (YAG) surgical laser that he would transport across the Midwest. From working for different medical device companies and marketing and selling equipment – such as lasers – to hospitals, he gained great insight into the operational challenges hospitals face daily.
As hospitals are financially strained, it is difficult to sell complicated and expensive surgical devices, even if they are top-of-the-line technologies. He realized that only blue-chip hospitals could gain access to these technologies, while community hospitals were unable to afford the latest advancements to improve patient outcomes.
That is when Forhan had the idea, as Voyzey said, “to rent it to them to see if they could access the technology that way. No one else was doing it. The community hospitals loved it, and it worked.” This set the stage for the future of the company.
“He took great care to make sure that he was representing surgeons’ interests and helping patients. He worked incredibly hard throughout the Midwest to mobilize surgical technologies,” Voyzey explained. Forhan traversed many states to increase access to advanced surgical technology and as a result, improve the state of healthcare.
As ForTec Medical and its selection of equipment grew, it was the quality and dedication of its people that enabled it to retain the standard of quality and safety for which it was recognized. Each employee has embraced the company’s culture and emulated the entrepreneurial spirit with which Forhan built the company.
According to Voyzey, “There is something special about this team.” Employees are recognized for bringing the same level of commitment and dedication to the company as its founder. Each day, there are countless examples of the lengths technicians will go to ensure that the equipment arrives where it is needed.
“The best ForTec technicians are the one who, like Drew thirty years ago, see themselves as entrepreneurs. They see themselves as the face of ForTec,” Voyzey noted.
“We certify our technicians. We have a rigorous training program that certifies technicians to operate this equipment at the elbow of the surgeon. We have thirty-five service centers, and we’ll support more than 70,000 surgeries this year, so we have lots of opportunities for our trainees to get on-the-job training and experience a variety of scenarios,” said Voyzey.
ForTec Medical also has service engineers on staff who work tirelessly to ascertain that the surgical equipment is functioning to peak standard. “We go beyond the manufacturers’ requirements for preventative maintenance,” Voyzey said. “We’ll do safety checks on the equipment at a much higher frequency than a typical owner.”
With increased demand for its services and expertise, ForTec Medical has devised a strategy to grow to satisfy the needs of its existing and future partners without sacrificing the quality of its services. Its new headquarters will support future service centers around the country.
Voyzey believes the company’s growth plan is dramatic but achievable, “We have set forth a vision for 2020. We laid that out a couple of years ago, so we’re on pace to double the company again in four years, and so that’s part of the motivation for the new headquarters. We have more new products being trialed right now and lots of investment in geographic expansion.”
ForTec Medical has spent three decades changing how health care in the United States is administered, demonstrating that the foremost standard of care can be accessible, affordable and efficient for the company, hospitals, surgeons and patients alike. Looking ahead, it will continue investment and improve accessibility and standards of patient care.