The Man Who Revolutionized The Patient Examination Chair

The patient examination chair has hardly changed over the last two hundred years. However, with the current trend of advanced in-office aesthetic procedures requiring increasingly high levels of precision, as well as new mandatory government ADA  (Americans With Disabilities Act) regulations, the traditional examination chair has taken on a whole new look and experience. In this interview with Aesthetic Insider™, Jeff Baker, CEO and founder of Medical Technology Industries Inc., (MTI) and a medical pioneer with over 46 years of experience manufacturing patient examination chairs, discusses how he and his team have literally revolutionized the patient exam chair as we know it today. To learn more about MTI, visit www.mti.net.

Jeff Baker, MTI

What inspired you to start MTI and how long have you been involved in the manufacturing of patient examination chairs?
Without giving my age away, I have been in this industry for over forty-six years and I started MTI just over twenty years ago. I began in the dental and medical corporate world but it wasn’t until I left that company and took a year out elsewhere that I realized the real need by both the doctor and patient for a more sophisticated and customized type of patient examination chair. After talking with many industry leaders and asking their opinions of what would be a better option, I began MTI in the wound care and podiatry fields of medicine. Today, MTI is now one of the largest podiatry and wound care chair manufacturers in the world, and we have branched out into many medical specialties, including  aesthetics.

How were you able to bring the chair to market in the early days of MTI?
Part of my initial outreach was to some of the larger chair distribution companies. I told them my ideas for a new type of chair design that would meet the needs of a variety of medical specialties and they actually encouraged me to build the chair with the commitment that they would buy it and distribute it for us, which is what they did. They kept true to their promise.

What do you feel set MTI apart in the early days of design?
As well as consulting with doctors and manufacturers, I took a good look around at other industries such as automotive, aerospace and the computer industry wondering how MTI could incorporate some of the many advances being made in those fields. Rather than hire only people with patient chair design experience, I hired design engineers from other fields that could help MTI create something more diverse. Some of our newer product lines were designed by an engineer who was responsible for the Chevy Colorado Truck by General Motors (GM) which won truck of the year at the time, and other features were developed by engineering people from aerospace, medical device fields, and even engineers that worked on fire doors. This mix of minds is what has helped us take the chair design to a whole different level, and has set MTI apart as a world leader in its field.

Have advances made in 3-D Modeling and 3-D Printing helped your design process be more efficient?
Absolutely. 3-D Modeling and Printing gives us the ability to literally see inside the product before we build it so we employ these advances in just about every new design. By creating a prototype of a new chair design via 3-D Printing we are able to work out any interferences or possible problem areas before the chair is manufactured. This is very advantageous to MTI and definitely helps both our design department and our company be more efficient overall.

How does the MTI chair actually work and what are its benefits to the aesthetic provider?
Typically, the chairs that are used in aesthetic plastic surgery are four-power function chairs. They have a power foot, power tilt, power back and power elevation up and down, and the combination of all those power functions places the patient in a position that’s comfortable for them, and also for the physician or the caregiver/provider. The MTI chair is automated and can be positioned manually or with pre-programed positioning. The pre-programmed positioning has become the preferred method of bringing patients to position as the entire process is coordinated resulting in a very smooth transition for the patient, and requires less adjustment by the doctor.  This way there is no stress on the lower lumbar as is typical when the back of a chair is lowered, and the patient doesn’t experience what we call movement fright as often happens with a non-programmable chair.

Why is the MTI patient chair becoming the chair of choice in many aesthetic practices?
Our entrance into the plastic surgery and aesthetic field started almost immediately after our launch into other fields of medicine, and has become an area where the MTI chair really stands out. We have designed products, not only for plastic surgery, but for all of the areas of the aesthetic disciplines including ENT, dermatology, etc. The MTI chair is suited for them because physicians find that they can do things with our product that they can’t do with the other general type products. For instance, the tapered back that we employ on our chair is really pretty simple as far as we’re concerned, but few manufacturers actually employ that kind of a back. The importance of the tapered back is it allows the doctor to get closer to the patient’s face, neck and upper torso when performing fillers and neurotoxin injections, or any other close up aesthetic work on the face. The back of the chair is wide enough for the patient to be comfortable and supported, but narrow enough for the doctor to have unrestricted access to their head and neck area. There are many other benefits to this chair, but the tapered head rest is definitely one of its primary attributes.  MTI has also has designed a variety of head rests specifically for all kinds of disciplines including ophthalmic cataract surgery, blepharoplasty in cosmetic surgery, ENT and general dermatology and those head rests really facilitate these kinds of procedures and examinations. It is also not a huge chair and can easily fit into smaller treatment rooms as is sometimes necessary in an out-patient surgery setting.

How is the MTI chair beneficial to the general health of the doctor?
When we talk with experienced doctors they almost universally say that they suffer from back pain, due to the physical stress of operating on very wide tables (up to 28 or 30 inches wide). Because these wide tables put the physician so far away from the patient they often have to pull the patient from one side of the table to the other, or lean over the table to access the patient. The MTI chair is designed so that the physician or caregiver can easily get closer to the patient in a more natural ergomatic position, which is a real plus as it helps reduce future back pain and back injury  of the doctor.

Tell us about the new patient procedure chair – the MTI 830 model.
The MTI 830 is a unique product. There is no product like it that I’m aware of in the entire world. Much of healthcare has moved to make things more accessible to those with disabilities as a result of the passage of new regulations promulgated by the United States Access Board and advised by the Medical Diagnostic Equipment Advisory Committee, of which MTI was a member, as well as a number of industry manufacturers, government and disability groups.  Following these new ADA regulations MTI worked to develop a patient chair that was ADA compliant, as well as easier to use by people with mobility disability issues. One of the issues was that current patient chairs were as high as 24 and 25 inches in minimum height from the ground which is higher than the average wheel chair. A patient would have to be lifted into the chair. When we met with the Access Board in Washington, DC to go over issues facing those with disabilities in the medical exam room the chair height was an important issue, as well as many other features that made a standard chair difficult for both patient with mobility disabilities and doctors. The new MTI 830 comes in a standard fixed base version, a swivel base model, or a mobile version which can be rolled around as needed meeting the 17 to 19 inches minimum height requirement which is one of the major criteria that the ADA Access Board finally decided on as of January, 2017.  It allows a disabled person to enter the chair from either the right or the left-hand side and use a mandated transfer support to steady and bring themselves onto the seat.

The 830 has a collection of both safety and high tech features to position the patient in the most rapid and comfortable manner. It also has an extension on the foot rest that is automatic and independent to accommodate taller patients when they are placed in upright and supine positions. The chair also has an industry leading lifting capacity of 725 pounds which allows dignity for all patients to be positioned and avoid any potential physical injury to a doctor, nurse or caregiver. The MTI 830 chair is ADA compliant and is a game changer in terms of better patient care.

Is the MTI 830 beneficial to those aesthetic surgeons that perform bariatric surgery?
Yes, and we are currently working on the new bariatric model which will be available soon. Bariatric surgery is a difficult physical surgery to perform due to the size and weight of the patient. One of the advances on the bariatric chair is that the seating surface will be extended in both seating width and patient capacity rating.  These new products in the larger bariatric versions will also be ADA compliant and allow the patient more dignity in positioning themselves.

How will MTI continue to lead in this field?
MTI has always been at the forefront of advances in this field and will continue to lead because we have a strong commitment to our customers and their patients. Additionally, we are continually refining the various accessories that can be applied to the chair, in the area of head rests and types of arm rests, IV poles that can be taken on and off, stirrups that can be added for both OB/GYN practices and even aesthetic practices that offer the newer feminine rejuvenation procedures. We have a team of expert and multi-faceted engineers that are constantly improving upon what we have and our focus on patient comfort and physician effectiveness will continue to lead us into the future. To learn more about MTI – Medical Technology Industries Inc., visit www.mti.net

To listen to Jeff Baker’s full interview at Aesthetic Insider™ Radio CLICK HERE!