Just as many body-contouring devices work best in focal areas, practices that enter this market must plan and target their efforts for maximum efficiency, according to one expert. Contrary to some opinions, it's not too late for board-certified dermatologists to plant their flag in the body-contouring turf.
That’s according to San Francisco-based dermatologist Kathleen Welsh, M.D., who advises any dermatologists who think they've missed the body-treatment boat to take heart. "Many dermatologists are afraid to get into this because they think, 'I'm late to the game. Everybody on my corner has this device. Maybe I shouldn't join in.'"
However, says Dr. Welsh, dermatologists must remember that many of these competing practices are chains run by business people, not doctors. "We have a huge advantage in getting into this space in that we can properly evaluate the technology. We have the patients. These patients want to see someone they can trust. And if they have the opportunity, they want to see us," says. Dr. Welsh who spoke on this issue earlier this year at the Generational Dermatology Palm Springs Symposium.
Deciding whether to add a body business starts with looking at one's patient base, she says.
Dermatologists usually have robust medical patient bases whose trust they have earned, and who would likely welcome new services, according to Dr. Welsh. "But you might want to take a brief poll of your patients and see how many might be interested in body services." She also recommends surveying the local competition and considering how to distinguish your offerings.
Next, consider costs of additional equipment, space and personnel. "We do a very simple return on investment calculation: my office is open about 200 days a year. If I were going to buy a $100,000 piece of equipment, I divide it by 200. Then my overhead is about 50%. So I would have to make $1,000 a day on that piece of equipment to pay it back in one year."
Next steps include writing a business plan and investigating available technology. Dr. Welsh prefers manufacturers whose other equipment has worked well in her practice. She also scrutinizes the objectivity of a company's clinical research and researchers. Talking to investigators and peers helps as well, but she advises avoiding a customer provided by the manufacturer. "You don't know if that person has received compensation for talking to you. You need an unbiased opinion."
Dr. Welsh has been a speaker for BTL (honoraria) and is an Allergan shareholder.
Kathleen Welsh MD. "How to Build a Body Business," Generational Dermatology Palm Springs Symposium. March 23, 2019.