What We Have Learned From the Pandemic, Part 3

Posted By Madilyn Moeller, Friday, November 19, 2021

Man helps another man climb a mountain

By Michael Meyer, Writer/Editor; and Madilyn Moeller, Editorial Assistant, American Med Spa Association

Eighteen months ago, COVID-19 emerged and changed the way people live their lives. Very quickly, "social distancing" became a familiar term, and how to wear a mask and use Zoom became a way of life. Many in medical aesthetics, and in all walks of life, also have experienced the heartbreak of losing friends and loved ones to the virus. Without question, everyone's lives are significantly different than they were before the pandemic began.

QP wanted to learn how the pandemic has affected medical aesthetics, so in this very special issue, dozens of people who work in and around the industry share what they have learned during this highly unusual time. QP spoke with physicians, nurses, physician assistants, lawyers, finance professionals, vendors, trainers and medical spa owners about how their lives and businesses have adapted—and are continuing to adapt—to the "new normal," and their insights reveal that medical aesthetics is resilient, innovative and strong.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 has not yet disappeared, and new lessons are being learned every day as people come to grips with the evolution of this pandemic. However, medical aesthetics is nothing if not resourceful, and as COVID-19 continues to demand thoughtful responses to difficult problems, the industry will undoubtedly be among the first to change with the times.

"Don't Panic"

Headshot of Bryan Durocher

Bryan Durocher
President, Durocher Enterprises

"Having been in business for over 20 years at the time of the pandemic's beginning, I did not panic, and I encouraged my clients not to either. Instead, we worked on proactive plans to shore up our resources and make sure cash flow was available to operate our respective businesses. I didn't worry about money; instead, I focused on things I had control over, like marketing to my existing base of clients, since travel and conferences were shut down, and I didn't have the ability to meet new prospects. I focused on retail product sales for myself and helped my clients create retail and e-commerce opportunities for themselves during the time when their businesses were closed.

"Personally, I made sure to focus on my family relationships and do things that brought me happiness, such as cooking, gardening, and hiking outside when possible to keep a healthy, positive attitude. Always start from a place of gratitude, and it will be easier to build upon whatever it is that you desire to make happen."

"A Personal Touch"

Headshot of Leslie Fletcher
Leslie Fletcher, AGNP-BC
Owner, InjectAbility Clinic and InjectAbility Institute (Los Angeles, CA)
"One unique thing we learned during the pandemic is how much our patients need and value our friendship. Prior to the pandemic, the depth of our visits seemed to be on a more professional, yet cordial level. After re-opening, however, we found our patients feeling so lonely and isolated. They were beyond happy to see us, and our friendship bond immediately deepened. There were many tears and, as a result, an enhancement of relationships. We also recognized their need for physical touch. Most hadn't had any encounters with anyone for several months before they found their way back in our door. Due to our strict cleaning protocols, they felt comfortable coming to our office, but wouldn't even go to the grocery store. To quench this need for physical touch, I incorporated a mini "facial" after every injectable treatment with growth factor serums and sunscreen application. Although I have always applied these after treatment, I used to quickly apply it or delegate the task to my medical assistant. To create a more stress-reducing atmosphere for our patients, I extended the time I'd spend and give them a little extra attention. Almost everyone comments on how great the experience is, and it leaves them feeling as if they are the only patient I have that day.
"I'd like to think that we helped foster the forging of these deepening relationships even before we returned from the shutdown. When COVID-19 began preventing people from leaving their homes, we called our most vulnerable patients and offered to do tasks for them or bring them groceries. We took masks as well as food and goodies to some, or we met them for outdoor walks. Furthermore, when California closed all businesses, including our own, we sent handwritten notes to nearly 500 of our most isolated patients to help combat loneliness and to let them know we were thinking of them and wished them well. Our staff once again came together to be there as a family for those who didn't have any during this time. So, when they finally made it back into the clinic, we found that they valued our friendship even more."
"Hitting Reset"

Headshot of Tiphany Hall

Tiphany Hall, PhD
Chief Growth Officer, Aesthetic Record
"While it certainly did not feel like it at the time, the pandemic gave our industry the rare chance to hit the 'reset' button. We had time to shift from patient-centered outcomes to practice-focused operations. At Aesthetic Record, we worked with countless practice owners and administrators to dive into inventory management, services and appointments, cost controls, and so much more. We were blessed to partner with so many practices as they used their time during the shutdown to objectively assess and improve their operations. We also saw this incredible spotlight on skin care, which kept money flowing and boosted retail sales that kept practices afloat while they could not see patients face-to-face. I am most proud of how medical providers, office staff and industry partners from across the country came together to support one another, to offer training opportunities and mentorship, and to remain focused on how we can come back better than we started. To think—many were shut down for months and still managed to close 2020 in the black. That's a testament to the resilience of our community.
"At Aesthetic Record, I am very proud of the long, long days our team worked to provide viable solutions to practices in real time. We were able to launch an integrated HIPAA-compliant telehealth portal in a matter of 72 hours and at no additional cost to our users, something we have not changed. We also built and deployed our 'No-Touch Toolkit' to help with patient paperwork amidst the new scheduling and social distancing challenges that accompanied reopening. These features were launched to meet the needs of the pandemic, but just like in so many practices, we found this was the catalyst we needed to grow and change. What we built then has continued to bring value to our customers now, and we're so grateful to be a part of the ongoing evolution of so many aesthetic practices."
"Every Day Is a Gift"

Headshot of Meredith Harris

Meredith Harris, NP
Founder, New Life Aesthetics (Raleigh, NC)

"The greatest lesson I have learned during the pandemic has been to take nothing for granted—health, wealth, love, family and friends. Each day as a mom, wife, business owner and health care provider is a gift and a blessing. During our office closure, family time was cherished, and I reconnected with sewing and art—the hobbies that brought me to aesthetics. I spent a lot of time reflecting on the things that were going right with my business and took the time to plan for the future viability, growth and sustainability of New Life Aesthetics. I also found ways to work smarter, and to delegate and share with my growing team so that I can experience better work/life balance."

"Prospering in the New Normal"

Headshot of Erin Hennessey, APRN

Erin Hennessey, APRN, DNP
Owner, Blush Aesthetics (Perrysburg & Toledo, OH)

"As a business, COVID-19 was very much unexpected and something we never anticipated. There were certainly several lessons that we learned:

Decent savings will help you manage the unexpected. We now strive to have six months' worth of overhead either in our savings or relatively liquid at any point in time.

How you treat your staff matters a great deal. We were able to retain all our staff members through the shutdown. We checked in with them, helped them find all the resources available to them, kept them up-to-date on what we were doing in the practice to provide a clean and safe working environment, and just let them know that we were thinking about them and were there if they needed anything.

We don't know what illnesses will come along later. We installed air purification systems and transitioned carpeted treatment rooms to waterproof vinyl flooring that can withstand significant sanitizing. We sanitize rooms with disinfectant between patients, just like we always have, and we continue to maintain patients waiting in their cars instead of in the waiting room. We continue to always provide for a three- to six-foot distance between patients. We are hopeful that this will minimize all types of communicable diseases in the future.

Communication is key. We not only communicated with patients directly on social media about what we were doing to our physical space to keep them safe and healthy, but also took pictures of us doing it. We made educational videos to show patients, so that when they did decide to come in for treatment after the pandemic, they were well-educated on the treatments we had to offer and could decide which ones would be best for them.

"All in all, I believe this will make us a stronger business moving forward."

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