Leslie Baumann, MD, FAAD is CEO of Baumann Cosmetic & Research Institute in Miami and is founder of The Skin Type Solution Franchise System. Her latest textbook, Cosmeceuticals and Cosmetic Ingredients (McGraw Hill) was released in November.
Aesthetic medical practices continue to incorporate product dispensing in efforts to support patient outcomes and enhance patient satisfaction. Product dispensing is a mode of patient engagement and source of revenue for a practice, providing benefits for both parties. However, if dispensing is not done right, patients and practices will not be satisfied.
The principles of dispensing are fairly straightforward, even though the practice can be quite complex. The key to good results and good patient outcomes is for the aesthetic physician to provide patients with specific, appropriate skincare product recommendations that they can get in the office—and nowhere else.
KNOW YOUR PRODUCTS
There are hundreds of skincare products available for dispensing in a physician's practice. When you account for department store and drug store products, patients probably have thousands of skincare options. Many patients find the notion of product selection daunting, and a substantial proportion will report that they have been dissatisfied with past product purchases.
It is nearly impossible for a physician to become familiar with every product. However, practices need to identify high-quality, effective products to fit a range of patient needs. You can't know every product or ingredient, but you can get familiar with the most trusted brands and the most popular ingredients. Read up on formulations in trusted publications, and consider reaching out to peers, if needed.
It helps to think about products by types or class. Every patient should be advised to use an appropriate cleanser and daily SPF. Additionally, they may be interested in antioxidant or wrinkle-reducing facial products, products that target specific anatomic areas (like the perioral area), and products that support treatment of medical conditions like pigmentary irregularities, acne, and rosacea. Don't overlook products for hair and nails, which are becoming more popular.
KNOW YOUR PATIENTS
Proper skincare recommendations ultimately depend on the patient's skin type. I have identified 16 different skin types and have predesigned regimens in my practice for each skin type. I call this the Skin Type Solutions System and have published it.
The reality is that physicians don't have time in daily practice to ask patients all the necessary questions to ascertain their skin type and skincare needs (such as whether a particular soap causes breakouts, what cleansers have caused irritation, if there's a history of melasma). I know a lot about cosmetic ingredients and a lot about products. Even so, it used to sometimes take me about 30-45 minutes to figure out what products to give to my patients, so I developed a standardized approach to make my office go faster and be more efficient.
I developed a questionnaire that patients complete while waiting to see me in the office, which makes the process go a lot faster. Importantly, I do not ask the patient to tell me their skin type; the majority of patients seem to believe they have “sensitive skin.” Instead, I ask questions that reveal how the patient's skin responds in certain situations and reacts to certain products and stimuli, so that I can then determine their skin type.
KNOW YOUR STAFF
Staff play a crucial role in the dispensing program, and staff training is fundamental to success. If your staff does not provide patients sufficient education, supportive information, and appropriate product recommendations, patients are not going to have good outcomes. If they do not have good results, they will not repurchase from you.
Do not rely on the various sales reps of the various companies to educate your staff, as these individuals may share exaggerated marketing claims. Although it is somewhat time consuming, I have developed a standardized approach to training my staff, so that everybody who comes on board is trained the same. That way I know that they make the proper recommendations to patients, and I have really found that my patients get better outcomes that way. In fact 90 percent of my patients purchase products from my practice and about 80 percent of those repurchase from us.
KNOW YOUR OPTIONS
One of the biggest problems we all face is patients buying products on the internet instead of from us. They may not be buying the right product, and they might not be getting the right results. Furthermore, we do all the work, provide all the explanations, and then they buy somewhere else. To avoid this, practices need to select the best products sold exclusively in medical practices, so that patients will purchase and repurchase from them. I have developed a system (The Skin Type Solution Franchise System; See below) to help practices identify such products, determine which products are right for which patients, and help train staff.
Whatever services and procedures a practice performs, skincare is an important part of patient care. When the skin is well cared for and its function is optimized, then the outcomes of any procedure will be better. Additionally, good skincare can help to protect the skin, prevent further damage, and preserve the effects of any intervention.
When practices can efficiently and appropriately recommend skincare to patients, patients will be happier and will return as purchasers, benefiting both them and the practice.
About the Skin Type Solutions Franchise System. The Skin Type Solution Franchise System is a franchise that puts a store in the dermatology or aesthetic office. Skin Type Solutions offers ongoing training of staff and negotiates deals with the brands so that practices get products at the lowest prices. It's intended as a turnkey solution for in office skincare retail. To learn more about the Skin Type Solution Franchise System, go to stsfranchise.com.