Build your medical spa on a foundation of 'extreme service'

Jan 01, 2005, 5:00am

Miami Beach –Medical spas represent the natural evolution of dermatological practices into complete skin care centers, according to Bruce E. Katz, M.D.

They are also the wave of the future.

"Spas are a seven billion dollar industry, and medical spas are the fastest growing part of it," he tells Dermatology Times. "It's time to think seriously about opening one, because if you don't, someone else will."

"I have always done aesthetic dermatology," Dr. Katz says. "For some doctors getting into this area may seem like an endeavor in itself, but we're moving on. In April 2004, we opened a health and wellness center with an acupuncturist, personal trainer and psychotherapist. That's the next extension of an aesthetic practice."

But progressing toward a full service, one-stop skincare center can be a challenge because it requires physicians to upgrade from the generally low service standards of the medical industry to the "extreme service" standard of the spa industry.

Most important step The first - and most important step - in opening a spa, he says, is good management. Without that, people can, and have, lost millions. He advises dermatologists who don't have good management skills to hire someone who does.

The next step is making facility decisions. Whenever possible, locate spas onsite with medical practices. (If that isn't practical, then plan to make frequent oversight visits.) Invest in good design so that the spa and medical sides are aesthetically integrated and yet appropriate to their distinctive functions.

"The medical side will lose its credibility if it's too touchy-feely. You need the right music. The right feel. The whole gestalt has to be right," Dr. Katz says.

Juva has four aestheticians, a massage therapist, a make-up artist and two coordinators. Dr. Katz retrains them every six months in order to maintain his service standards - which include consistency. Every treatment at Juva is governed by a set of protocols.