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Shopping for an MD

Brian Coughlan May 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine

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New technologies and measures involving nonsurgical facial cosmetic procedures performed in the spa by physicians and nurses are popping up at every spa industry expo and conference. Physicians in all parts of the country are interested in forming partnerships with local spa owners. There still is much to be learned about what can be expected from this type of relationship.

If a spa decides not to partner with a physician, it could mean competing head-on with medical offices that already have expanded services in order to capture clients who are eager to pay large amounts for anti-aging skin care. More and more doctors are saying “bye-bye” to health insurance hassles, and “hello” to credit cards and cash.

A niche market?

For years, many spas have enjoyed mutually successful referral relationships with physicians, which is beneficial and enough of a partnership in the opinion of some industry professionals. At the Face & Body 2005 Spa & Healthy Aging Conference and Expo, Douglas Preston, of Preston, Inc., presented a strong case for making the spa profession the best it can be without any medical intervention in his class “Here Come the Medical Spas! Can My Day Spa Still Compete?”

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Getting Down to Business

Create a business plan.

Will this work? Your first job is to complete some revenue and expense projections to see if prospering in this new arena is in the cards for you. You certainly do not want to ruin your already successful business by adding a focus that isn’t supported by your clientele.

Read up on state laws and regulations.

In addition to keeping up with laws and regulations governing esthetic licenses, you must find out whether physicians in your state are legally permitted to perform certain procedures in your spa.

Become familiar with the terms of your lease.

Chances are good that the description of your business that appears in your lease does not anticipate physicians or other medical personnel working in your spa. Landlords can be difficult on this point, and you may need to seek an amendment to your original agreement.

Research liability insurance.

Your insurance broker may recommend an increase in the liability insurance you are carrying. You and your landlord also should consider obtaining the added protection of your spa being named as an additional insured on your physician’s insurance.

Consider various forms of ownership.

Spa owners who have integrated additional services provided by physicians have, for the most part, maintained their independence. However, your research may turn up advantages of creating a new partnership or corporation with a doctor or other investors. If so, it is crucial that you seek out specific financial and legal advice from trustworthy professionals.

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