Clinic operations director Amanda Elbourn discusses the advantages of employing a medical aesthetician in your clinic
Beauty is a major component of the science and technology industries. In the UK alone there are more than one million people employed in the field of cosmetics, which is worth an estimated £17 billion – a figure that is predicted to grow by a further 16% in 2016.1,2 Even through the tumultuous times of the recession, the UK beauty industry thrived, expanding by 15.5% from £6.1 billion in 2008 to £7.1 billion in 2013. 1,2 With such rapid growth there is strong justification for investing in aestheticians to work in medical clinics (medical aestheticians), a role that is proving invaluable for aesthetic businesses in order for them to expand and flourish. In Courthouse Clinics, for example, medical aestheticians performed more than 30,000 treatments in 2014 alone, and the clinic chain currently employs 33 medical aestheticians across 10 different sites.4 There are endless benefits to employing medical aestheticians, which in turn benefit both the patient and the medical practitioner.
The care and support provided by medical aestheticians does not only benefit the patients. When performing advanced medical treatments that require assistance, medical practitioners can use the medical aestheticians not only to aid them in carrying out the procedure, but also to provide valuable patient care and attention. Again, cementing a trusting relationship between patient and aesthetician as well as between the doctor/nurse and aesthetician is paramount for repeat business, overall satisfaction and business growth.
Skincare is a huge growth area in medical aesthetics. Last year the total value of skincare sales in the UK was £1 billion and the anti-ageing sector now accounts for 42% of total UK sales.3
Medical aestheticians should have in-depth knowledge regarding the anatomy of skin, product ingredients and the benefits they can have. As such, they should be able to provide valuable advice to patients while ensuring their skin is in the optimum condition to enhance the effects of medical treatments. In our clinic, our cosmeceutical suppliers provide extensive training on the different ranges of products they offer to ensure medical aestheticians offer the correct combination of products to patients, which suit a range of different skin types and conditions. Doing so can bring substantial additional revenue and profits to the clinic, as well as increase the repeat number of visits patients make to purchase professional skincare products.
One of the most valuable contributions that medical aestheticians can bring to a business is to lower costs per treatment. The average aesthetic doctor is paid in excess of £100 an hour, meaning each minute of their schedule is precious as they offer high-end clinical aesthetic treatments whilst maintaining the success of their business. Medical aestheticians, on the other hand, usually cost less than £20 an hour. They are able to perform the treatments that do not have to be carried out by highly-skilled medical practitioners, for instance laser hair removal and fat freezing that are often labour intensive.
Another significant advantage to employing medical aestheticians is the facility to expand upon the clinic portfolio. There is a vast array of technologies and techniques that would prove detrimental to profit if they were to be offered by a doctor or a nurse. These ‘entry-level treatments’ include popular and well-known procedures such as microdermabrasion, skin health assessments, some skin peels and various laser treatments that can complement more advanced treatments. It is simply not cost-effective for medical practitioners to provide these. Medical aestheticians are not only able to carry these treatments out at a lower cost rate to the business, but are also able to act as consultants for patients, educating them and suggesting complementary medical practitioner-led treatments as well as introducing possible skincare ranges offered within the clinic. To put this into perspective, more than 30% of patients who initially booked to see a medical aesthetician at Courthouse Clinics later booked an appointment with a doctor.4
As previously mentioned, science and technology plays an important role within the beauty industry. Along with the progression in our understanding of the human body, there has been an emergence of innovative technologies that are able to tackle cosmetic concerns for the face, body and skin that require less medical skill to operate. Sophisticated equipment within clinics is now commonplace; some expensive services that would previously have been provided by a highly-qualified doctor or nurse can now be made more affordable to the patient when performed by less qualified employees. From a business standpoint, this provides a significantly higher profit margin. A medical aesthetician with the appropriate training and skill level has the potential to bring approximately £2,000 income4 to the business each week through offering these lower-skill treatments.
Other aesthetic treatments can be provided by a combination of both a medical practitioner and a medical aesthetician. Microneedling, for example, provides the opportunity for a two-tier pricing system that will suit different clients’ budgets. Some patients prefer to continue to use the same practitioner that they have built a rapport with, whilst other patients prefer a doctor to perform their treatment, which provides the patient with choice and confidence. Some treatments combine the requirement for both medical practitioner and medical aesthetician, for example a doctor may consult a patient with acne concerns but suggest a combination of skin peels and light rejuvenation treatments that can then be administered by the medical aesthetician. There is also a requirement for both a medical practitioner and medical aesthetician to be present for certain aesthetic procedures, i.e. during minor operations and advanced laser skin resurfacing treatments, the medical aesthetician can assist a doctor at a considerable lower cost than a nurse. This allows the medical aesthetician to assist in more complicated procedures and ensure maximum patient comfort.
Medical aestheticians are, relatively speaking, an ingenious and natural marketing tool for any aesthetic business. It could be argued that there is a more personable approach between the patient and the aesthetician as the rapport is often based on repeated treatments, from monthly to even weekly revisits, e.g. combination skin rejuvenation treatments. A level of trust is often developed that allows the patient to feel comfortable when seeking advice on advanced and more expensive procedures e.g. injectable treatments. Medical aestheticians should have a sound knowledge of all treatments offered within the clinic to answer any initial questions that would then encourage a new consultation with the doctor. Patient experience for more complex procedures can also be greatly improved as medical aestheticians can add a beauty element with an additional relaxing service. For example, they could offer a soothing hand massage while the patient is under a rejuvenation light. Using Courthouse Clinics as an example again, figures show slightly higher positive customer satisfaction for treatments conducted solely by a medical aesthetician, than those that include all treatments. The average customer satisfaction score for treatments conducted by only a medical aesthetician in 2015 was 96.5% from 972 surveys received.4
In comparison, the total data across the company for the same period which included all treatments, provided an average customer satisfaction score of 95.6%.4 Non-surgical aesthetics is entirely focused on patient loyalty and repeat business, so to have a reliable model for this in-clinic is essential.
When recruiting medical aestheticians it is integral that they have a minimum skill level of NVQ Level III in beauty therapy or equivalent with preferably at least three to four years experience in beauty therapy to provide some of the more advanced treatments. Whilst hiring a newly qualified beauty therapist is possible, I would prefer to ensure past experience of delivering beauty treatments, client care and a strong evidence of sales ability. It is also important to provide a good commission structure to provide incentives for selling both treatments, treatment packages and retail products as aestheticians, unlike medical practitioners, usually have a strong background in sales. Targets are vital with any client-facing role. In addition, it is vital that the medical aestheticians you employ understand the need for excellent customer service skills and patient confidentially.
Medical aestheticians can develop their skills in order to offer a variety of treatments, providing opportunities for both the individual medical aesthetician and the business as a whole. A comprehensive training programme is essential when planning for any medical aesthetician to join your clinic. External training provided by suppliers must be supported with a detailed internal training schedule to ensure treatments are delivered with safety, compliance and competence.
More than 95% of laser treatments at Courthouse Clinic are carried out by medical aestheticians and our data for 2014 provides the supporting evidence that medical aestheticians are able to safely carry out advanced laser treatments with only three incidents out of 14,000 laser treatments throughout the year.4 Medical staff should also provide support and training to ensure aestheticians appreciate the need for accuracy with medical records and reliability with before and after photographs. It is also important to form a cohesive team with the medical practitioners and the aestheticians so that the practitioners can freely offer their support and expertise whenever required. Teamwork is encouraged at all levels and should be led by clinic managers who hold regular team meetings and encourage all practitioners to experience any available treatments. At Courthouse Clinics we have successfully implemented a buddy system between practitioners and aestheticians in each clinic to further develop the trust between both parties. This also encourages cross-referrals of patients.
Overall, when hiring a medical aesthetician you are seeking someone who can combine practical training with affability. The balance is needed for you to get the most out of your business and for your medical aesthetician to get the most out of their career.
The importance of medical aestheticians within the aesthetics industry is clear. The general day-to-day running of the clinic and the overall profit margin is not only greatly improved, but also encourages further business development. Medical aestheticians that deliver great customer service ensure patients are happy with both their treatment and care, which could encourage referrals to their friends and family. However, it is essential that in order for a business to prosper, one must ensure that the most suitable medical aestheticians are employed and trained appropriately in their roles.
“Working alongside a doctor augments the advice and professional care I feel we are able to offer clients; with the support of the doctor’s knowledge I feel that we can confidently carry out accurate and excellent aesthetic treatments to ensure optimum care and results.”
Medical aesthetician at Courthouse Clinics, Wilmslow
“Working closely with our aestheticians enhances our patients’ experience. We can compliment injectable and laser treatments with skin health assessments, peels, skin tightening and lifting procedures, so between us we can offer a full spectrum of antiageing and skin rejuvenation treatments.”
Dr Robin Stones
Medical director at Courthouse Clinics
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