Media formats available:

Growing numbers of dermatologists are considering selling their practices for a list of reasons including advancing age, administrative burden, and other considerations.

Sue Ellen Cox, MD, a dermatologic surgeon and founder and medical director of Aesthetic Solutions in Chapel Hill, NC, recently sold her practice to MedSpa Partners Inc., a group that has acquired an impressive array of medical and aesthetic practices across the United States and Canada.

Dr. Cox chatted with Practical Dermatology magazine about her decision to sell and shared how she knew when she found the right fit.

Why did you decide to sell?

Sue Ellen Cox, MD: Selling to the right partner was the best way to balance the needs of all stakeholders as I planned the future of the practice. I knew I would eventually reduce my schedule and wanted to be sure patients and staff would always have the same opportunities they have now: evidence-based, state-of-the-art care for patients, and an exciting, supportive workplace for staff. We have great people doing great things for patients, and I want to see that continue long after I’m gone.

How are things going so far?

Dr. Cox: There have been a few hiccups as we transition, but MedSpa Partners’ constructive approach to solving problems has been reassuring. Their procurement group worked with us to maintain crucial vendor relationships through the changes, and when they learned our online store had an exclusive arrangement with a credit card processor that wasn’t on the MedSpa Partners’ platform, they were able to find a temporary workaround that keeps the store open while we develop a permanent solution. I’m confident this will be a good thing for everyone.

How have things become easier for you as a result of the sale?

Dr. Cox: It’s early so many of the benefits are still ahead, but I can already see where my senior staff will be able to spend more time focusing on things that enhance patient care and less time on the mechanics of running a business. I’m finding more time to work with staff on the patient experience, more time to evaluate where the industry is headed, more time for research, and more time to interact with colleagues on the MedSpa Partners’ platform.

Any advice to impart to a colleague who is considering selling their practice?

Dr. Cox: Be realistic about your options and choose your exit and partners carefully. For years, I assumed my eventual exit would be through associate physicians buying out my interest. I learned from the residents I teach that practice ownership is not on the radar for most, and the few who are interested are just as likely to start their own practice. I also learned taking on associates has its own challenges. An exit is inevitable at some point so it’s worth thinking ahead about what’s important to you. Don’t wait until you’re ready to retire. Making sure I had a place to continue working far into the future without being responsible for everything was a key element for me in deciding who to partner with and when to sell.

How do you know if it is a good fit?

Dr. Cox: The best way to know if it’s a good fit is to talk with colleagues. Focus on ones that sold similar practices. I’m 100% cosmetic, fee-for-service. Our brand is evidence-based medicine delivered with extraordinary customer service. It was important to me that MedSpa Partners understood the space and would not only allow but encourage us to continue doing everything that made us successful. Practices already on the platform are the best indicator of what lies ahead. The best advice I received during the process was from my practice administrator, who reminded me of the way we hire staff. The advice was to approach it like a marriage. It won’t be perfect, but the right partner brings experience and competencies you don’t possess and makes for a stronger whole.

Completing the pre-test is required to access this content.
Completing the pre-survey is required to view this content.

We’re glad to see you’re enjoying PracticalDermatology…
but how about a more personalized experience?

Register for free