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Exclusive Interview: Daniel Shaw, President and Founder of Academy Medical

Credit: Association of American Physicians and Surgeons

Veteran-turned-businessman Daniel Shaw found a place for himself in the procurement industry. After years of serving the nation in the Navy, Shaw wanted to continue serving the people of this nation through healthcare. This is how Academy Medical, a certified Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) that helps companies provide cutting edge medical and surgical products to government medical facilities, was born. 

In this interview, Shaw discusses his history with the navy, his transition into the world of procurement, and what is in store for Academy Medical.

Interviewology: Tell us a little about your background. What led you to join the military? 

Daniel Shaw: I was born and raised in Mobile, Alabama. In 1991 I graduated from the US Naval Academy and was selected to be a Naval Aviator. I chose the Naval Academy because it was a challenge. I was told by a guidance counselor in early high school that I would never get there, and I set out to prove him wrong. I worked hard and stayed focused to show that someone from modest beginnings can not only get into the Naval Academy, but thrive in the competitive environment.

I completed flight training as a Navy Pilot and was deployed around the world in multiple military theaters.

I: How did your experience in the Navy form you as a businessman?

DS: In the military your seniors, peers, and subordinates must be able to trust what you’re saying. Lives depend on it. I firmly believe in honest, straightforward business relationships—“do what you say and say what you do.” That has been the cornerstone of our business approach.

I: What came after the Navy that led you to develop Academy Medical?

DS: I was hired straight out of the navy as a medical distributor. I was considered somewhat of an atypical hire at that time. However, I was hired by a West Point graduate, who later commented that he knew what he was getting. Since then, I formed a partnership and have developed and grew the business into its form today.

Daniel Shaw. Credit: Academy Medical

I: How important of a role does the procurement process and Academy Medical play in the healthcare industry?

DS: The government procurement process is, in many ways, a challenge for all companies, small or large. Today, the government is trying to streamline their procurement process – to become more like a commercial hospital system – with more contracting, better prices, and a smoother ordering mechanism. Many businesses often don’t have the expertise, resources, or even the patience to deal with the bureaucracy and systemic issues embedded in the government contracting process. This most often results in extremely lengthy wait times for products to see the market.  Academy Medical is well positioned to help these companies navigate the contracting process– dramatically shortening product wait times which results in quicker access and revenue turns with emerging technologies.

I: Why was it important to you that the company be mostly led by veterans? 

DS: Veterans have a strong work ethic and commitment to an overall larger goal. They can be counted on to wake up in the morning, think independently, set goals, and accomplish them. That is the fabric of Academy leadership, but the same goes for our mid and lower level personnel.

Credit: Milken Institute School of Public Health

I: How does Academy Medical position itself with regard to the technological changes now taking place in the surgical implement manufacturing industry? 

DS: Academy Medical’s goal is to provide the newest, most innovative products to help clinicians improve patient care. Our ability to help companies gain access to numerous government sales channels– often much faster than they could on their own– provides access to new products quickly. Our vendor partners know that we can help them get products on government contracts, and they come to us with any new innovations that would benefit the government medical community. The result is that clinicians can treat veterans, active military, and their families with the best treatment options available.

I: How does being a SDVOSB set Academy Medical apart from other procurement companies?

DS: We at Academy Medical are fiercely proud of being classified as an SDVOSB. We support veterans and work very hard every day to help provide the best possible health care to them and their families. VA statutory requirements place us at the pinnacle of VA purchasing preference, but we take a step further to provide value for that purchase. We work with both our vendor partners and government agencies to provide the best products (including new and innovative therapies) at the best possible prices.  That value is then bundled with a technologically-centric platform, all the while streamlining the entire end-to-end procurement process.

Credit: Dynamik INC

I: What role does philanthropy play in your vision as a company? 

DS: I strongly believe in giving back to the community, especially to those who have given their all to our country. I hope to continue supporting Veteran causes, and as Academy grows, play a larger role to help those in need.

I: What is the most fulfilling aspect about your job?

DS: At Academy, we’re problem solvers. I really enjoy creating win-win scenarios where our vendors and government partners alike see the value and benefit from their relationship with us.

I: What exciting things are in store for the future of Academy Medical?

DS: Academy has developed key partnerships and cutting-edge technology, specifically focused in the VA market. We’re very fortunate to be well-positioned to help solve several contractual, statutory, and logistic VA issues. Our technology and expertise also allows us to be extremely valuable in pursuit of other opportunities in other governmental markets.

Credit: Integrated Computer Solutions

I: How have recent changes in the healthcare industry effected the government process of procuring medical supplies?

DS: All governmental agencies, not only the DoD and VA are coming under more and more scrutiny with respect to their spending as it relates to the return on that spend.  The VA and DoD are especially visible, as they treat our heroes, veterans, active military, and their families. As a result of the increased review of departmental spending, we are seeing both the VA and the DoD transition away from the “open market” platform and more towards contracting.

The rationale for using contracts is obvious– more visibility and better pricing.  By increasing the utilization of contracting vehicles, the government medical procurement process can save time and money while not negatively impacting the quality of care. In addition, both agencies—especially the VA— are in the middle of attempting to modernize their supply chain and procurement practices to mirror what happens on the commercial side.

I: What does Academy Medical look for in the businesses the company partners with?

DS: First, we look for vendor partners that can manufacture and deliver innovative healthcare technologies to our Veteran community. Second, and just as important, is their ability to see the value of doing business in that space. Gone are the days of varied, arbitrary, and sometimes even inflated pricing. We work with our vendors and contracting to deliver consistent, competitive, and long-term national pricing.  We then work together to shape that message and market that total value to the government buyers and users.

Credit: CSA Group

I: What is Academy’s advantage over other companies seeking to work with manufacturers?

DS: Academy medical offers more value than competitors in terms of agility, expertise, access points, and competitive platform. Our use of technology offers seamless integration while maximizing continuity and minimizing workflow disruptions.

We have extensive experience in sourcing government solicitations and troubleshooting procurement issues. In fact, Academy Medical fields account executives whose role is to ensure a trouble-free procurement process. Only Academy Medical has Flightline, our robust web-based electronic commerce platform that connects our manufacturing partners with the Government end users and enables real-time order processing and shipment tracking, resulting in a streamlined and traceable purchasing and shipping process.

Academy Medical has numerous contracting sales channels to offer ease of purchases in their appropriate technology and delivery space.

And finally, Academy Medical qualifies and is verified as a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business.  We are the VA’s first choice in the purchasing process, but are given priority in all governmental agencies as a preferred buying channel.


Exclusive Interview: Dr. Larry Fan on Beauty and Plastic Surgery Trends

Credit: DoctorBase

Dr. Larry fan is an esteemed and award-winning plastic surgeon in San Francisco where he founded his nationally recognized boutique medical practice, 77 Plastic Surgery. Dr. Fan leads his medical team with the inspiration of the “beauty that surrounds and resides within all of us.”

The Sophia News recently chatted with Dr. Larry Fan about beauty and plastic surgery trends and issues. This interview was inspired by Dr. Fan’s prominence in the world of cosmetic and plastic surgery. In the interview Dr. Fan shared his philosophy for helping people reach their realistic goals for beauty, and gain more self-confidence in the process.

Sophia News: Please describe your passion and career path towards becoming a plastic surgeon.

Dr. Fan: When I was in college I decided to be a doctor, I wanted to help people in choosing my career. I enjoy being a surgeon When I was 21 I broke my nose playing basketball and I did not think it was a big deal at the time but over the years my nose became very crooked and it became a big issue for me over time. My nose began to make me very self-conscious, when I was out and about I could see people staring at my face and I was very comfortable.

I ultimately decided to get my nose fixed and with that experience I learned what it means to be unhappy with your appearance. That lead me to plastic surgery. When I was in medical school I realized, I liked plastic surgery more than other parts of medicine. I wanted to work with my hands and be very active. I grew up being an athlete and this physical aspect of plastic surgery appealed to me greatly. I find it very fulfilling.

The impact of positivity it has on people’s self-esteem is very powerful and I know it firsthand.

SN: How would you describe your average patient?

LF: My average patient is that there is no average patient. The ages and cultural backgrounds all vary. The reasons for coming to me and wanting plastic surgery are many and everyone has a unique story. Demographically, my patients are 85% women, though I have a greater portion of men compared to other doctors.

The age varies from young women who want larger breasts in their 20s to women in their 70s. Being in San Francisco I have all ethnicities, a very diverse patient format. Many south Asian, Hispanic, all sorts.

SN: Do you find that standards of beauty and sexuality vary greatly between San Francisco and Los Angeles or across the country?

LF: First, I think across the USA, everybody wants to feel beautiful, younger, and geography does not have much an impact about it. It’s a timeless desire for women. There are some subtle differences in expectations and pace in San Francisco Bay Area than Los Angeles. In San Francisco, they are more discreet and favor more natural looking results, versus L.A. that wants more dramatic or extreme.

In San Francisco, the people don’t want others to notice the surgery procedures as much as perhaps other cities. In L.A., it’s more dramatic and more flashy and more noticeable. In Beverly Hills for example, the population is far more made up and beauty-conscious than in San Francisco. There is a noticeable cultural difference in terms of beauty and self-awareness between San Francisco and Los Angeles, which is reflected in subtle ways.

SN: What do you find most fulfilling as a plastic surgeon?

LF: Helping people feel better about themselves. What I love about my career is that I get to help people; that I have firsthand experience that improving your appearance can help you lead a fuller more confident life. I have patients who come in dissatisfied and struggling with self-confidence. Something as simple as helping a flight attendant who was bothered by the size of her ears. She came to me to help her reduce the size and took time and courage for her to do this. She was in her 70s. Once she saw the difference she shed tears and gave me a hug; telling me, “I can’t tell you how much this helps me, and it was something I was dealing with and struggling with my entire life.” I feel lucky to help people in a profound way.

SN: Do you see the future of breast augmentation change greatly in terms of technologies and implants?

LF: It’s one of the most popular cosmetic procedures in the entire world. My patients generally have a challenging relationship with their breasts. This could mean desiring larger breasts, smaller breasts or changing their appearance or shape via a breast lift. Breast augmentation is a procedure that has been popular for a few decades and that over the years the procedure has become more refined and safer both medically and aesthetically. That means the implants have continually improved. Twenty years ago, there was a concern about leakage and safety of silicone. There were many studies and panels, and after five or ten years everyone agreed that silicone implants were safe and risks were dramatically reduced. Over the past ten years, new implants are more durable, hold their shape better, and appear more natural. The procedure is better and safer than ever as a result, though one must always remember there are risks associated with any surgical procedure.

In addition, our understanding of the variables involved with breast implant technologies is better than ever as a result of these studies. We can now, as a result of the knowledge, make precise pockets and calculations when inserting the implants; respecting the patient’s tissue and other variables that decrease the risk of problems in short and long term. Understanding the variables help with the safety and overall cosmetic results.

There will always be a level of risk since it is a surgical procedure, and I tell my patients, “you need to understand that getting breast implants is a lifetime choice.” I tell them, “there are risks and over the next ten years there is a small chance you may need a second procedure to replace the implants or for some other reason.”

In the last two years, there has been a small link between silicone breast implants and a rare form of lymphoma that has garnered media attention and it is something I tell my patients. I try to tell my patients that the chance is extremely low; I want people to be aware of all the risks.

SN: What level of consultation do you provide for married women and their husbands concerning expectations? Is it common for you to temper expectations?

LF: Many of our patients are married women. Typically, the husbands are involved at various levels. The most common scenario is that the women are doing the procedures for themselves. Typically, the husband is supportive and will say, “I think you are perfect and you don’t need anything, but if this is important to you then I am here to support you.”

At the same time, I tell all my women patients that it is important that you should only make changes to your body that you want and not do it for anyone else. When I do on occasion see that a woman feels pressured to undergo a procedure because of pressure by her husband, I will convey my input.

SN: Do you ever have patients who are celebrities or in the public eye? If so what types of special services do you offer them for privacy?

LF: I do get celebrities and public figures regularly. When people in the public eye come in we do provide a level of customized care for privacy and discretion. My team is experienced in providing privacy and special needs to all patients, not just celebrities. I value everyone’s privacy, regardless of whether or not a patient is a celebrity. I am comfortable with the needs of those in the public eye. For example, I have a famous millionaire who is a male patient, and we work with him and our assistants to give him a few special requests regarding services. We try to minimize waiting times and we are happy to help people with special needs such as hours of visit, security, and other things. We try to accommodate everyone’s special requests.

SN: What is the most challenging aspect of being a plastic surgeon today?

LF: I think one of the most challenging aspects is managing the expectations of my patients. As a surgeon, I want perfection, and so do my patients; whether it is the result, the care, or the appearance that someone has. And yet plastic surgery, like all surgery and all medicine, it is both an art and a science and there are factors that are out of my control or our control. It is impossible to guarantee any results. Complications and poor results are possible.

Patients have various levels of understanding and expectations of what they are going through. Especially people who are younger, they expect things to be perfect with no hardship, even if they are starting from a base of genetic appearance, their expectations are sometimes unrealistic.

For example, I do get women who are perfectly fit or beautiful who may have put some weight on and want to be a size zero when they are already fine. They want liposuction to work magic and make them meet an expectation of self-image that is not realistic. I spend a lot of time communicating the importance of realistic goals and expectations to them. Even when I spend a few hours with my patients about this, at the end of the procedure I can tell they may still be struggling with disappointment, and this is a challenging for me personally.

SN: Why do you think so few actresses are willing to admit they have had a cosmetic surgery procedure? 

LF: It is true that cosmetic surgery is far more accepted by society at large than by celebrity culture. More and more people are actually considering plastic surgery procedure. And yet if you look at cosmetic surgery from certain perspectives and traditions within the USA, there are people who are more moralizing, and there is a big divide culturally in American society where it is not accepted.

In Hollywood, beauty standards are all about entertainment and fantasy. For movie stars their cache is predicated on looking like goddesses and gods who cannot do anything wrong, who are naturally perfect and who do not need any medical intervention to maintain their appearances; hence the reluctance to discuss and admit to plastic surgery procedures. Hollywood perpetuates this fantasy of perfection and beauty, which is not real and not realistic. For an actress or actor, the appeal must be that their looks are effortless and God-given. This is an illusion. Plastic surgery puts a lie to this myth, this image of fantasy perfection. I imagine one day with the continuing popularity of cosmetic surgery procedures Hollywood’s attitude may evolve.

SN: Does philanthropy or charitable giving play any role in your work and career?

LF: Yes, philanthropy is important.

I performed emergency and elective reconstructive surgery for the indigent and underserved in the San Francisco Bay Area on a weekly basis for more than a decade (at a public hospital, San Mateo Medical Center). I stopped earlier this year because of the business of my practice and because taking call was talking too much time away from my family.