December 2013

Arizona AFO: Investing in excellence to ensure continued leadership through innovation

By LER staff

logos_0003_azafo“Pioneers in the development of the custom leather ankle gauntlet, Arizona AFO will continue to stay true to our legacy of delivering industry-leading craftsmanship with top-tier customer service,” said Elliott Yamada, vice president of marketing and business development for Orthotic Holdings, Inc. (OHI), which owns Mesa, AZ-based Arizona AFO.

In September, the American Board of Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics (ABC) awarded its first-ever Five-Year Central Fabrication Accreditation to Arizona AFO. “As a member of the Arizona AFO team, I am proud to be a part of a company that will not accept mediocrity. The team at Arizona is committed to excellence in all business functions—they truly want to be the best,” said Yamada.

After a recent expansion, Arizona AFO now boasts over 30,000 square feet of manufacturing space. Yamada noted, “When you are a healthcare company focused on innovation and technology, you have to also invest in the manufacturing infrastructure that enables you to maintain such high quality standards.”

Along with the space, the company has four full-time CAD-CAM carver machines, four full-time CAD modifiers, and more than 40 full-time employees who create the quality products the orthotics industry has come to expect from the Arizona AFO brand, Yamada said.

“We have five people with various classifications of ABC certifications,” he said. “These professionals are available to speak directly to customers, ensuring that each order meets a level of quality every patient deserves.”

Arizona AFO also has a focus on education, and in 2013 launched “The Foot & Ankle Handbook,” an interactive eBook guide for lower extremity orthotic intervention made for the iPad. Download the eBook free using the iBooks app for iPad or any Apple computer running OS X Mavericks software.

In December, OHI acquired SafeStep, based in Milford, CT, a diabetic footwear and DME (durable medical equipment) company. “SafeStep has been the sole distributor of Arizona AFO’s Moore Balance Brace, so the two companies have a longstanding relationship,” said Yamada.

“SafeStep’s value proposition leverages a proprietary automation technology to streamline the entire diabetic shoe procurement process for podiatrists. When utilized properly, the technology also ensures that the podiatrist is in compliance with Medicare by ensuring that proper ulcerative risk assessments are being followed and documented, and, if clinically necessary, that the appropriate shoes are being sized, selected, and eventually dispensed,” he said.

The system also automates the reimbursement process, taking the administrative burden off healthcare practitioners.

In the case of a RAC (recovery audit contractor) audit, the SafeStep platform protects practitioners who have been consistently following the suggested program guidelines by providing documentation necessary to ensure compliance with the Medicare Therapeutic Shoe Bill.

“Broadening our technologies and education offerings will help both Arizona AFO and their customers transition into the post-Affordable Care Act [ACA] healthcare landscape,” said Yamada, who previously worked at Austin, TX-based Ascension Orthopedics as director of sales for lower extremity products, including surgical implants.

“Surgery definitely has value and is life changing for many patients, but many of the same surgeons that utilized my implants were also the first to teach me that surgery should not be viewed as the automatic first option,” he said. “I’ve also heard estimates that as many as eighty to ninety percent of patients in an average podiatry practice are not surgical candidates. If the healthcare practitioner determines that a noninvasive, conservative treatment protocol is the best clinical option, their patient will receive therapy at a fraction of the cost of surgery. If the results are not in line with expectations, surgery is usually still an option.”

Yamada said many healthcare companies have had to reassess their business models over the last few years and that many of his old colleagues are unsure about the future of the medical device implant industry.

“[Harvard business professor] Michael Porter’s healthcare value creation formula is a pretty consistent way to think about sustainable business models in a post-ACA world,” he noted. “As a baseline for survival, you must add value by either improving patient outcomes or saving the system money. If you’re able to accomplish both, you have a business model that is built to compete in a post-ACA healthcare environment. Our company will continue to leverage both innovation and the scale of our global resources to develop medical technologies that improve patient outcomes and add value to the system.”

Article sponsored by Arizona AFO

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