Operational Efficiency in Aesthetic Medical Practices

Robbi Grayson
Vice President of Business Development at Acara Partners
Member of the Aesthetic Business Institute Board of Directors

John Powers, PhD
Director of Education and Research
Aesthetic Business Institute

As is the case with most businesses, the phrase “time is money” is a stark reality of every aesthetic medical practice. Understanding and optimizing operational efficiencies can make or break a practice’s bottom line, as well as greatly improve the overall patient experience. An Aesthetic Business Institute’s Flash Poll helps establish some guidelines and an understanding in how operational efficiencies can help your practice to grow and flourish.

Framing the Practices Surveyed

There was a solid level of diversity within the respondents of the survey, with 36% describing their practice as aesthetic medicine, 27% as a medical spa, and 14% each as a cosmetic dermatology or plastic surgery practice. Close to 62% of those surveyed are part of a practice with a gross annual revenue between $1 and $2 million, 19% claiming revenue between $3 and $4 million, 10% for $2 to $3 million, and also 10% over $5 million.

Last minute cancellations

This ABI Flash Poll features a few simple questions that are examples of potential operational efficiencies within the aesthetic medical industry. The first has to do with a very common issue that many service-based businesses face – last minute cancellations of appointments. Only 45% of those surveyed charge a fee for last minute cancellation. Several comments from the surveys mentioned that they do take a credit card for booking, and some even collect a pre-payment for “notorious cancellers.” Another practice mentioned charging patients only if they didn’t show up at all for an appointment (with no phone call or effort to cancel ahead of time), while other practices listed fees charged for cancellations within 24 hours of the appointment.

“In the medical aesthetic industry, all of our resources are tied to time. Once that time has passed, that ‘inventory’ is no longer available to sell,” commented Robbi Grayson, a 35-year veteran of aesthetic medical leadership and member of the Aesthetic Business Institute Board of Directors. “Although the survey showed that less than half of those responding (45%) charged for last minute cancellations, this practice is becoming more acceptable. The reservation of an appointment for an aesthetic service is no different than reserving a hotel room, where a credit card is placed on account and charged if the reservation is not honored.”

Separate area for pre-procedures and online forms

In addition, an increasing number of aesthetic medical practices now have dedicated areas for pre-procedures such as numbing. The survey showed that 64% of practices have this separate area of their practice for these pre-procedures, thus more efficiently utilizing their clinical space and reducing the overall time a patient is in the office for a procedure. One practice responded in the survey that they are currently renovating their space to include an interior waiting room for pre-procedure services.

There also is an increasing push to encourage patients to complete required forms online prior to arriving for their appointment. Over 63% of those surveyed shared that they now provide this option for patients, providing another opportunity to reduce time in the office and increase efficiencies.

“With time being such a valuable resource in this industry, it is no surprise to see an increased number of respondents allocating dedicated space to preparatory procedures such as numbing, and also allowing patients to complete necessary forms online,” Grayson added. “All of this adds to operational efficiencies and an improved patient experience.”