Future of Cosmetic Surgery & Plastic Surgery Industry – Disruption, Growth and Challenges ahead
By David Staughton B.Sc.(Hons) CCEO CSP – Practice Growth Consultant
CORPORATISATION, COMMODITISATION & CUSTOMER FOCUS
The Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Marketplace is changing rapidly. Three of the biggest changes are disruption to the medical marketplace, the impact of a rise in competition and the critical need to focus on delivering a better customer experience for the patients.
1. THE CORPORATISATION of MEDICINE & HEALTH
The Cosmetic & Aesthetic industry is changing rapidly. Future demand from a growing and ageing population is strong but just like in the UK, US and New Zealand, economic rationalisation is coming to Australia.
Organisations and practices are consolidating, Corporates are growing and driving efficiency in their search for performance and profitability.
Understanding the business side of aesthetic and cosmetic medicine is critical, as the days of the individual practitioner clinic are rapidly coming to an end.
Some lessons from recent USA Aesthetic Conferences include
- The rise of big groups – there are many new GROUPS of dermatologists and cosmetic/plastic surgeons in the USA. Older dermatology and plastics clinics are being bought up by venture capitalists and adding Mohs surgeons & plastic surgeons to do skin cancer work and some cosmetic surgery.
- There is a big corporate push for better purchasing, process improvement and increased productivity & efficiency. This means more performance management and lower pay for surgeons in future.
- More and more surgeons (up from 20% to 50% in USA) are working for hospitals (Hospitalists) or Academic Medical Centres AMC (Academics). Some US states are even legislating against private practices!
- Academics have to do more of the work themselves including their own research & training. Hospitalists have surgery quotas to meet or face a downward salary review. Both have had admin staff cuts and have to do both surgery and more paperwork. They were disheartened.
- Specialists working in private practice earn just 15% to 30% of their collections (fees that are collected – typically 90% of their billings – US insurance companies are reluctant to pay them)
- Typical contract salaries for newly qualified plastic surgeons are around $US300k p.a. but they are expected to bill $1m+ in fees p.a. or face a decrease upon periodic review of their contract.
2. COMMODITISATION OF COSMETIC SURGERY
Increased marketplace competition from medical tourism and more surgeons has seen an increase in cheaper surgery offerings and increased marketing to differentiate premium-priced surgery.
- There is more Price transparency in the marketplace online and in advertising billboards – many surgeons are leading with cheap prices – BAs from US$1,990, more special deals and packages on offer in the USA.
- Clinics are either offering cheap surgery prices or differentiating their niche brand with their own “Signature surgeries” and building their personal brand online through social media.
- Patients are choosing their provider by looking at their online reviews, videos and B & A photos. Sadly, their medical credentials and experience are often overlooked.
- Avoid the “cheap price trap” – Explain your value proposition better – be clear on your point of difference
- We will see the rise of ‘Netflix style’ member model or ‘pay as you go’ Annual Subscription Membership Programs for Non-surgical patients with patient financing options – just like Allergan USA’s Brilliant Distinctions program
- We need more transparency around injectable products being used or patients will just get the cheapest products or “bait and switch” happens. Clinicians need to discuss products openly and online. “Inspect before you inject”! You can’t keep injectable products like botox a secret anymore.
3. NEED TO FOCUS ON PATIENT EXPERIENCE
So the solution to all this disruption is to get closer to your patients and prospects and offer a great customer experience. Find out what they really want and be more flexible in your service delivery. They want more transparency about the products being used and the medical provider – they want testimonials, easy booking online and they want finance options too.
Here are some other customer focus lessons from US Conferences…
- Patients want a much better experience. Get more feedback on how to improve by doing regular practice mystery shopping & detailed patient surveying
- Improve your patient experience – Offer Wifi in your foyer and work on being on time
- Offer active patient rebooking and recall – especially the 10 year plus implant patients
- Provide better looking patient quotes to make them more understandable (use colour)
- Make inbound call recordings (legally) to improve service levels with staff phone training
- Think Men! – Market to male patients (especially male spouses on saturdays)
- Communicate with your patients using multiple channels, multiple times – by phone, email, SMS, chat & posts – not just “one and done” followup
WAYS TO REDUCE YOUR FUTURE RISKS
Becoming more professional also means managing your future risks, here are some lessons…
- The rise of resistant bacteria and biofilm on any implant (including injectables) is a big risk for patients & Surgeons
- Regular Handwashing & Sanitising in clinic is important – make it easy with sterility stations
- Need for more attention to Cybersecurity in the practice – especially Password changes – some US plastic surgeon practices have been hacked and patient data stolen
- Rise of CCTV in clinic – Practice video recording to protect practitioners and staff from litigation
- Develop better patient qualifying and protocols for handling any unhappy patients
- Sustainability – Display a pricelist of Practice Consumables for staff to reduce wastage
About David Staughton B.Sc.(Hons) CSP CCEO MIMC
David Staughton is a Specialist Practice Consultant and Growth Expert with 20 years experience improving groups by developing systems for sales and service improvement.
He is the Business Manager for www.cocorubyplasticsurgery.com.au – an Australia wide alliance of plastic surgeons based in Melbourne and provides strategic advice to many long term clients in a range of industries.