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Recession-proof Your Practice

By: Steven H. Dayan, MD, FACS
Posted: January 29, 2010, from the January 2010 issue of
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How do you feel after buying an item that makes you feel great; maybe a new article of clothing, a new watch or a new car? But how much better is it when that new item is inexpensive and immediate? If it is expensive or it involves an extended lag time until the benefit is achieved, there is a risk for buyer’s remorse and even worse, ill will toward the place from which it was purchased. The retail merchandisers that prospered during the Great Depression sold quick, repeatable pleasures at affordable prices.

Your practice and the economy

You may be considering going back to third party-payer insurance medicine if you are struggling to make ends meet as an aesthetic physician. Regardless of the recession, people are always going to be sick and need medicine. Colleagues who do general otolaryngology (ENT medicine) tell me they are still very busy, but are just starting to feel the reduction in elective procedures. It is likely that consumers who are watching their pennies are going to forego elective medical procedures in order to avoid taking time off of work and paying deductibles. Also, it is shortsighted to doubt that Medicare and insurance reimbursements won’t be affected.

So, although it currently seems like a safe haven to be back in general medicine, consider recession-proofing your practice as an alternative. It is prudent for all doctors and health-related businesses to start thinking differently about maximizing the efficiency and finances of their practices. Customer service, regardless of the field of medicine, is a front-and-center issue for more than just the aesthetic field. In fact, it is key issue for any service business.

New aesthetic physicians

Those who are just entering aesthetic medicine may be thinking twice about breaking into a competitive and depressed marketplace, but try not to be dissuaded. Yes, the demand for cosmetic procedures is down, but fresh, brave and ethical individuals should move forward.

There are inherent advantages to starting in a bad economy; for instance, there are fewer physicians starting in the field right now. When the economic situation turns around, you will be better situated as one of few in your contemporary age group to be established, ready and poised to explode.

Existing aesthetic physicians