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Shopping for an MD

By: Brian Coughlan
Posted: June 23, 2008, from the May 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

page 3 of 5

In her view, the patient, doctor and spa all will benefit from offering medical spa services. The patient has just one point of purchase, which is the trusted spa where post-operative care, such as lymphatic drainage, will be available.

The spa will recommend clients and schedule appointments for the physician, provide space for education and consultations, and ensure professional care and customer service before and after surgery.

Advantages for the spa owner are many, including higher service and product sales, additional work for team members, satisfaction for present clients and the acquisition of new ones, and the addition of business that otherwise might be lost. The point of this service effort is to provide clients with good results and a comfortable experience.

Challenges and missteps

This evolving business model seems wise now, but Grenauer warns that every advanced service added to a spa menu cannot be expected to immediately take off. “It took seven to eight months before our intense pulsed light (IPL) hair removal found the clientele we expected,” he recalls. “It required some marketing and word of mouth.”

Of course, getting things just right is the challenge, and potential missteps are lurking everywhere. Cindy M. Chang, owner of CMC Medi-Spa in Aiea, Hawaii, and a licensed acupuncturist, as well as a licensed cosmetologist, has opted not to partner with a physician. Although she refers clients to doctors, she doesn’t believe that they have the time to be truly present at a spa after tending to their medical practices. “The bottom line is that physicians often want to make the additional income without giving their time,” Chang asserts. She believes that a spa’s medical director potentially could become a “rent-a-doc” who lends their name and license without adequate commitment.