| Monday, January 01, 0001
PART 1 OF 3
Over the past five years, we have seen an influx of various medical specialists entering into the aesthetic/cosmetic market. The main reasons for this are the reduction in insurance reimbursement and the increased popularity of non-surgical treatments for both genders. With that, how do you introduce the concept into your new, current or even future direction of your existing primary care practice?
Taking the Leap
If you work in a group, introducing the concept of aesthetics in a primary care practice is the most difficult, due to the nature of changing the culture of your colleagues or partners. It is not impossible, but it may take more time to be successful, as the shift of the paradigm isn't always easy. Some of the dilemmas you will face including convincing the practice to advertise to a different audience, utilize media and internet marketing, and attend aesthetic conferences to learn about new products and services that will make you successful. In addition, there is a major ramp up period and financial investment of products and services, instruments, supplies and staffing, and educating all of the staff in order to properly answer patients' questions.
If you decide to go solo or independent as a practitioner who has been an associate for quite some time, many of the same issues and concerns may still exist, but all of the decisions now fall in your hands. The most difficult part about introducing the aesthetic portion into your new practice is finding a way to get your reputation and knowledge out to the community... with limited knowledge and training. Remember, this isn't something you were taught in medical school, and the typical aesthetic patient is nothing like the primary care patient that comes to you from their insurance plan.
When you are an existing primary care physician, whether you are independent, part of a group, or even part of a group and thinking about leaving to start your own practice, many variables come into play as you now introduce aesthetic/cosmetic services into your practice. An advantage? You already have an existing patient base that knows and trusts you. Since you have loyal patients, their comfort level is unique. They may have been coming to you for years for all of their illnesses and ailments, and they know that you have their best interest at heart. What better credentialing can you have that the true testimonials of happy and satisfied patients?
Your affiliations within the community, belonging to various civic organizations, and religious organizations will promote your new found venture as one of the experts in the community.
Introducing Products and Services
The first thing you need to determine is what procedures you want to provide since aesthetics and cosmetics have a broad range of services. They may include:
Skincare products, inclusive of retail sale (prescription and non-prescription)
Skincare Services, inclusive of microdermabrasions and chemical peels, skin tags
Laser Treatments, inclusive of laser hair removal, tattoo removal, IPL (intensive pulse light) CO2 Laser, vascular and pigmented lesions (telangietasisas, hemangiomas, hyper and hypo pigmented lesions) sclerotherapy, onychomycosis (nail fungus)
Sclerotherapy, including injectable non-laser
Dermal Fillers & Volumizers, including Restylane©, Perlan©e, Juvederm©, Boletero©, Sculptra©, Radiesse©, Artefill©, etc.
Neurotoxins, including Botox© Cosmetic, Dysport©, Xeomin©, etc.
Hyperhidrosis, including underarms, palms of hands, bottom of feet
Permanent Makeup, including permanent pigmentation
The list can go on and on, inclusive of cosmetic surgical procedures under local sedation, including facelifts, eyelid lifts, liposuction and more. The most important factor regarding any and all of the above procedures is the SAFETY of your patient. Enlist the support of your vendors for the best training for all of the procedures you want to perform prior to getting involved in them. Another important factor is knowledge of the anatomy of the area you are treating, as well as the knowledge of how to handle the complications that can and WILL exist with any of the procedures you perform.
Always have a backup physician in the community that you have a relationship with who has experience handling the procedures you will be supervising or performing, just in case you run into a problem and need the immediate guidance and resolution of an unfavorable outcome.
Targeting Your Demographic
After you have decided to enter into the aesthetic/cosmetic market, the next step is to determine which procedures you want to specialize in. Do your research and look at the most popular procedures in your community that are being marketed with the least amount of risk. It is always easier to start out small and grow into your niche once you feel that you have gained total confidence in your techniques. You may have an existing patient base, but they may not be your typical aesthetic/cosmetic patient type, due to age, gender or financial status. Remember, they may have been coming to you because you were on their insurance plan, so don't assume you will be an immediate success.
Remember to "invertise"... that is, use internal advertising to your existing patient base so that you can get a feel for your patients' reception to your new concept. This is a strategic move that should be done well ahead of time via patient consultations, e-newsletters, internal phone call marketing, and then, once you make that final decision, it's time to start with external marketing and advertising.
When to Ask For Help
Contact the various vendors from which you will need to secure the supplies, equipment and marketing/advertising support. You may even want to secure the guidance of a practice management consultant who specializes in the aesthetic/cosmetic industry to help secure the best prices for all of your needs, soup to nuts. For example, a practice management consultant can guide you in placing you into the proper GPO (Group Purchasing Organization), select a website designer and SEO (search engine optimization) specialist, negotiate capital equipment manufacturer, secure credit card vendors and procurement of the best financing, assist in office design for proper patient flow, educate you in the latest products on the marketing, assist with staff training and much, much more.
The thought of getting into the aesthetic/cosmetic market sounds fun and easy, but can be very costly and less profitable if not done properly. Your competition is even tougher today than it was yesterday, and will be even tougher tomorrow. Why do you think that so many other medical specialties have entered into the aesthetic/cosmetic market? (On a side note, most of my clients are non-core physicians, trained in fields like ER, dentistry, OB/GYN, vascular surgery, internal medicine, interventional radiology, and even orthopedics and psychiatry. The core physicians used to be the dermatologists, plastic surgeons and facial plastic surgeons.
In our next article, we will share how you can make this a successful venture by utilizing external measures via your vendors, suppliers, employees, and community events.