by Nancy Ryerson
, Staff Writer | September 26, 2013
From the September 2013 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
Jeff Bordock, president and CEO of Advanced Particle Therapy, uses his 10 years of proton therapy experience
to help centers get off the ground and stay financially sustainable. He spoke with DOTmed Business News about business strategies and why he thinks proton therapy is worth the cost.
How did you get into the proton therapy world?
My partner and I have been involved for about 10 years with proton therapy, just kind of by default. It was an interesting field, and we started taking a good hard look at it, and over time, we were able to identify a business plan tied to a solution of providing a fully integrated center to a clinical partner, either a major health care system, or a medical academic institution. That’s where we started, and we’ve stayed with it.
Tell me more about your work at Advanced Particle Therapy.
We provide a turnkey center to a clinical partner. We arrange for all of the debt and equity financing, and we engage the clinical partner through a long-term agreement to operate the center and to integrate it into their overall health care services, and more specifically their cancer center. We work with them to select the proton therapy equipment, to design the building for efficiency and inpatient throughput, we build it, and then we turn it over to the clinical partner to operate, and we jointly manage it with them. So right now we have four centers in various stages of development. As I mentioned earlier, all of our clinical partners are major players in their specific regions. Our center in San Diego is with Scripps Health Care. That center started seeing patients in July. We’ll start treating with protons in the first part of October. We also have one with the University of Maryland in Baltimore. That center is about 90 percent complete as far as the building, and we’re waiting for the equipment to come in and start being installed in January. We’re under construction with a center in Atlanta that will be operated by Emory Healthcare. We’re looking to break ground in October with a center with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Each takes about three years to build.
I know the financial side of opening a proton center can be challenging. How do you help centers through that process?
Our centers are investor owned. So we have private investors for equity, some private investors for debt and we bring on some institutional debt. It’s a function of having a very comprehensive and realistic business plan, having an interactive financial model that will support that plan and allow real time adjustments to it, and then I think the other thing that’s important is selecting the appropriate clinical partner to operate the center and put their name on the building. When we first started the Scripps project, we had never built one, our contractor had never built one, Varian hadn’t delivered that equipment into the U.S., so the investors had lots of questions about whether we could really get the job done. It’s beautiful, fantastic, it’s a great center, and it turned out just the way we wanted it to. Now Maryland is ahead of schedule, and Georgia is ahead of schedule, because we learned a lot. The thing that’s comforting for the investors is about who’s going to operate it, how long have they been around. You look at the University of Maryland, it’s the oldest public medical school in the country, and the radiation oncology department in terms of grants is rated number one in the country. So partners like that, and Emory, Scripps, University of Texas, all of them, they’re not positioned to fail. And protons aren’t going to replace other types of photons, and other types of cancer treatments. It’s another tool that we feel is very useful, and that’s how our partners look at it too.