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Balancing Medical and Esthetic Services

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By: Adam Dinkes
Posted: January 29, 2010, from the January 2010 issue of

Abstract: Finding the perfect balance between medical and esthetic services can be a challenging but necessary step in guaranteeing practice success in this new economic climate. By obtaining and using client feedback and analyzing your competition, you can determine the vision of your practice. From here, it is important to evaluate your current service split and determine what steps need to be taken in order to make it the ideal situation for you and your patients.

The medical spa format became an instant success in America, beginning in the late 1990s, and within a few years, there were thousands throughout the country. The concept was to blend spa services, such as massage and facials, with medically based esthetic treatments, such as chemical peels, microdermabrasion, laser hair removal and rejuvenation treatments.

A common question asked by physicians who run split businesses is how to best divide services and offer patients a unique blend of esthetic treatments that complement other medical cosmetic services. Medical spas vary in their offerings, and there is little consensus about the ideal split between a physician’s practice and the spa in terms of services and treatment options. In today’s economic climate where many practices are underperforming (see Medical Practice Performance During Recession), getting this mix correct is the key to not just surviving in a down economy, but to thriving in the future.

Align your vision

The combination of services provided should be customized to your vision of the business, as well as to the needs and wants of your patients. Aligning these two will result in the ideal mix for your market and demographic. Smart managers solicit feedback from their patients regarding new treatments and services. Of the many ways that exist to engage clients, this is the most effective method to evolve your business because it helps give patients exactly what they want. Whether you choose online survey programs, or a telephone or face-to-face interview format, establishing a direct dialogue with patients will prove to be extremely valuable. See An Ideal Interview. As an added bonus, offer a discount on a treatment in exchange for your clients’ time. This ensures that there is acknowledgement and appreciation for their participation, and further establishes loyalty.

Understanding how your aesthetic center is positioned in your specific market is helpful to aligning your growth strategy with your patients’ desires for your practice. In terms of strategy, there are really only two options: differentiation and low cost.