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From limb-lengthening procedures to removing skin cancer without a scar, two innovative Palm Beach County medical operations are making a difference in both patients’ lives and in the local economy.
On Thursday, at its 2017 Economic Development Forum, the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County featured technologies and innovations that are expected to have future impact on the county, including medical innovations, driverless cars and smart buildings.
In medical technology, Paley Institute in West Palm Beach and Sensor Healthcare in Boca Raton were touted as “game changers” in healthcare that are bringing medical tourism to Palm Beach County.
Dr. Dror Paley, founder of Paley Institute, said he believes “Palm Beach County can become a medical tourism district,” giving his own orthopedic and spine treatment center as an example.
Paley moved his practice from Maryland to the warmer climate of West Palm Beach in 2009, to locate on the grounds of St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach.
More than 90 percent of his practice followed Paley, as well as patients. The institute now employs 250 people.
Paley Institute, which specializes in methods and devices to help children and adults who have one leg that’s shorter than the other, now does 1,500 surgeries a year with patients coming from the 50 states and 90 countries, Paley said.
Those patients book 5,000 nights in Palm Beach County hotels, as well as patronizing the county’s restaurants, pharmacies and other businesses, he said.
“We offer not only hope, but realistic hope and solutions not available elsewhere,” said Paley, who initially went to Russia and Italy to study medical techniques and has developed more than 100 of his own surgical procedures.
“Innovation is at the heart of it — look for the square pegs — those are the ones who change the world,” Paley said.
Joseph Sardano, CEO of Sensus Healthcare in Boca Raton, said many patients are seeking alternatives to surgery. His company’s products use superficial radiation therapy that offer a non-surgical treatment of basal cell skin cancer.
The treatment delivers a dose of radiation that goes only deep enough to attack the cancer cells, and doesn’t leave a scar, he said. Typically, surgeons recommend Moh’s surgery, where thin layers of skin are surgically removed. Surgery costs more and the wound can take a month to heal, Sardano said.
Most patients want to avoid the scars and long healing time. “Senior citizens living in Palm Beach County are very active — they’re playing tennis, golf, walking, running and cycling,” Sardano said.
Surgeons make less money with Sensor's products — $1,500 to $2,000 compared with $15,000 to $20,000 for Moh’s surgery, Sardano said. But they recognize not every patient is a good candidate for surgery, such as a diabetic who risks infection.
Sensus has 30 of its systems placed with dermatologists in Palm Beach County alone, Sardano said.
Sensus Healthcare went public on Nasdaq in 2016 and its stock has a 52-week range of $3.61 to $6.69 a share. The company had sales of $14.8 million in 2016, up from $10.27 million a year earlier, but is not profitable. The company had a 2016 loss of $346,448 compared with a loss of $237 267 in 2015.
The Economic Development Forum also addressed the future of driverless cars, with speakers Colin Tooze, director of public policy for Uber Technologies in San Francisco, and Greg Krueger, program director for Emerging Tech in Transportation and associate vice president at HNTB Corp. based in Detroit; and smart building with speakers David Herlong, director of smart grid and innovation for Florida Power & Light Co., in Juno Beach; and Neil Syx, technical delivery manager at PC LAN Techs in West Palm Beach.
Marcia Heroux Pounds