Media formats available:

The theme of this issue is practice management, which is probably the most relevant feature of running a practice that becomes and remains a joy for you and your patients. Not all of us have ultimate control over the ways that our practices run, but there are situations and opportunities everywhere, as stated in a previous editorial. For this one, however, I would like to focus on methods of attracting and educating staff who are motivated to provide an outstanding patient experience in the same way you are.

Patient experience encapsulates every feature of a practice and is best summed up by patients who come back willingly and refer others to your practice versus going elsewhere in the future or leaving a bad review. In a purely medical dermatology practice, there are many outside factors (such as insurance changes) that lead to changes in patient attendance, but in cosmetics the onus and opportunity is generally on us to provide a superb encounter each time our patients visit. Competition dictates that we also consider not only other surrounding dermatology practices, but other “providers” who practice “skin care” without a residency in dermatology as well as the med spas and national chains that focus on either laser hair removal or other kinds of cosmetic procedures. This means that we must not only provide a great customer interaction that rivals or exceeds our peers, but also the collection of nationwide companies with millions of dollars and a well-honed “machine” to invest in marketing and staffing. Despite this, it is still not only possible to compete but likely prevail against these groups. The answer lies in staffing, personal involvement, and training.

Attracting staff is a topic that encompasses more than is possible to relate in this editorial, but there are a few easy tips that will help greatly and are rare to see in practice:

Be present for a “final” interview of each prospective employee. You will be the recipient of their work product, both good and bad, and it is quite possible that you will be able to better determine their suitability for the job than (or at least on par with) the HR team at your facility. If you are in a multi-specialty group or private equity-owned practice, this function may not even be onsite and the entire interview process may be handled remotely, which is concerning. Any good multi-specialty or private equity-held practice should welcome your interest in this aspect of practice.

Look and listen to your employees as they interact with your patients on the phone and in-person. It is easy to tune-out the calls and conversations at the front desk, but with a small amount of effort you can get a fairly good idea of how your staff is treating your patients and handling calls. Again, they are representing you and it pays to listen to how they do so.

If you have a more substantial cosmetic practice, consider hiring a patient coordinator who acts as a concierge for your cosmetic patients from the first call to the follow-up visit and beyond. This is a highly specific position with quite a bit of training required after the hire, but a well educated and patient-oriented, empathetic individual in this position can be a huge asset to you and the practice. These individuals can also do other duties, such as product sales, if this is part of the practice, which I highly recommend.

When it comes to the rest of the staff, every practice that is involved in cosmetics has options for training provided by various companies that support and sell products. Generally, these sessions range from off-site video sessions to onsite, individual trainings. Take advantage of these as they are usually comprehensive and, if carefully followed and fully implemented by staff members, should yield results. If possible, personally view or attend any in-person sessions and lend your ideas and positive acceptance, assuming you agree, to help ensure success. One size doesn’t fit all, and your style of practice may vary from the one presented, so it is good to approve any final changes to the practice.

These sessions often discuss topics including credentialing (explaining your training and expertise to the patients who call for an appointment) and simple information about cosmetic procedures available in the practice. Much of the information is obvious, but it may not be second nature for your staff to credential you and your achievements to prospective callers. This is not the case in most non-physician cosmetic practices.

As a group, physicians are often reluctant to trumpet their accomplishments, but that is exactly what every med spa and “other” practitioner is doing, most of whom have zero real credentials but know how to spin the ones they have. Look at your competition and you will see a string of posts that show these barely trained individuals with certificates, attendance at questionable seminars, and glowing reviews. Board-certified dermatologists already have this in multiples (medical school, internship, residency, and sometimes fellowship) and have innumerable other activities and bases of knowledge that eclipse the rare achievements of others. This is something that your staff must know and recite to prospective clients. Additionally, it is imperative to highlight it on your website.

Lastly, surround yourself with people you want to be with as these individuals are with you on an ongoing basis, as much as or more than your family members. Probably the best “defense mechanism” against burnout I know of is to surround yourself with people you enjoy and who enjoy you. This is a benefit and a task for many, including myself, as you generally only get as good a group as you deserve. It took me many years of practice and “life” to understand how important it is to approach every interaction with a win-win mentality, and it continues to be a work in progress, but the rewards are great. When I first started private practice, I actually thought I was in charge and could call the shots! I know better now that my staff runs it all and I am the lucky recipient of their largesse when big decisions arise.

Above all, have fun. If it isn’t fun, then find ways to make it fun or you will look back and wonder why you didn’t.

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