| Monday, January 01, 0001
In our last article, we discussed how a primary care physician entering the aesthetic marketplace uses tactics such as demographics for location, competition, patient selection, financing and advertising. In this article we will examine the hiring, educational and training process of your new product line - as it is quite different than primary care medicine.
Just as the aesthetic patient is quite different than your primary care patient, employees in the aesthetic market are quite different than primary care employees. Patients want to be treated by staff members who they feel are knowledgeable in the services they want. How do you find that right mix of personnel to "WOW" the aesthetic patient?
In addition to your existing personnel who will be working with your primary care patients, try to find additional candidates who are already in the aesthetic/cosmetic industry. It is much more difficult to train an inexperienced employee in the aesthetic field because it is quite industry specific. The terminology is different, the products and procedures are different and the patients are much more demanding. New procedures and equipment come out every day, and many of the training schools tend to teach standard functional medical care. Even aesthetician schools do not teach many of the procedures in the aesthetic practice. Where can you find these candidates?
- Competition – local practices that do not treat their staff with dignity and respect have employees willing to join your team
- Vendors – supply and equipment vendors always know of someone looking to make a change
- Industry-related conferences – usually experienced administrative and clinical personnel attending
- Aesthetic associations – these are specific to your industry and can refer or allow you to advertise
- Patients – believers in your products and services
- Friends and family – usually loyal, they want to see you succeed
As you enter the aesthetic market, you, as the physician, may have to go through a transformation in your practice, since you are not trained in all of the technology that has come out since you first started your practice. You have been trained in primary care, and your patient has become very loyal to you and trusts you. That can only go so far unless you have the ability to convince them you have the experience, training and technology to give them the level of service they demand.
Training has to be for all levels of your staff, including you, the physician. As previously discussed in an earlier article, you have to first determine which procedures you want to focus on, and then solicit the proper training at all levels in order to minimize risk and liability. Your entire staff has to sing from the same hymn book, and make sure the message they relay to the patient is identical to yours. Patient safety is paramount.
Operational and administrative staff must be trained in the proper terminology for all of your new procedures. Remember, this may all be new to some of them, and you have to make sure that it is not only what they say, but also how they say it. There are many examples, but here are just a few.
- replace the word "hurts" or "pain" with "minor discomfort"
- replace the word "needles" with "injections"
- replace the word "paralyzes" with "relaxes"
- replace the word "burns" with "minor stinging"
- replace the term "hair removal" with "hair reduction"
Your staff must know the differences between the different procedures and not mix them up when answering questions or giving information to existing or prospective patient. Today's patient is much more educated than ever before because of the Internet and social media. Different states have different regulations, and staff members should not be treating patients in violation of state laws. Many physicians are not even aware of the regulations in their own state, and this can create a major legal issue for you if you are not aware of your state requirements. Make sure to research or seek the advice of industry consultants or risk managers who will help guide you through the process.
Your clinical staff (including you) should be trained by industry experts on the proper use of new equipment and various techniques of fillers and neurotoxins. Not all of these products are alike, and they have many different indications and FDA approvals. Without knowledge of the proper use of the products, serious negative outcomes can occur which can be long lasting or even create permanent disfigurement. Product manufacturers have professional training courses or individual trainers to assist you.
The final phase of the integration of your primary care practice with aesthetics is patient selection. This may be one of your most critical decisions as the wrong mix of patients can be extremely destructive. The most important thing to follow is to never let your patient direct your level of treatment. In primary care, symptoms and results may be very distinct, as a definitive diagnosis may lead you to the correct treatment with the right prescription. In the aesthetic and elective practice, patients may want to tell you what they want, which is not necessarily what they need. There are many uninformed patients; always under promise and over deliver.
There is always a second chance to add to a treatment, while over-treating (such as with a permanent filler or too high of a setting on a laser) may be permanently uncorrectable. As you gain more experience, you will learn the nuances and additional tricks to develop the perfection of your treatments. Lastly, check with your malpractice carrier to see if they will cover you in the new treatments you will be performing. Some carriers may not cover you outside of your scope of training.
Many lasers and fillers are not FDA approved yet; there are vendors who will try and sell you everything. Make sure what you are purchasing is FDA approved. You malpractice carrier may not cover you if you use an unapproved filler or device.
Many FDA fillers, neurotoxins and lasers are indeed FDA approved for a definitive treatment, and not for others. When you use these FDA approved devices on a patient for a non-FDA approved use, it is called "off label." Make sure that you have the patient sign a consent (which should be done for FDA approved treatment anyway), indicating his or her acknowledgement that your treatment is off label of the manufacturers FDA approval.
Jay A. Shorr BA, MBM-C, MAACS-AH, CAC I, II, III is the founder and managing partner of The Best Medical Business Solutions, assisting medical practices with the operational, financial and administrative health of their business. He is also a professional motivational speaker, an advisor to the Certified Aesthetic Consultant program and a certified medical business manager from Florida Atlantic University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org