Physician-Managed Ventures: An Evolving Career Path
In the ever-changing healthcare landscape, physicians are increasingly taking on roles beyond traditional medical practices. And they’re in demand. Physician-led ventures encompass a wide range of initiatives, from urgent care centers and telemedicine startups to wellness retreats and med spas. While directing a healthcare business draws on a doctor’s medical acumen it also requires a broader skillset to tackle administrative tasks, undertake physician recruitment, and manage staff. The demand for qualified healthcare workers in these settings underscores the ability of physicians to take their careers in a new direction and leverage their medical knowledge to shape the future of healthcare.
Growth and Opportunities in Physician-Managed Med Spas
Med spas combine medical procedures and spa services, providing patients with a unique blend of physical and emotional well-being that sets them apart from traditional healthcare settings. The combination of medical procedures and spa services can result in holistic wellness experiences that cater to diverse patient needs. In recent years, the US med spa industry has experienced significant growth. In 2022, the US had 8,841 med spas, an increase of 60% over 2018, that generated an estimated annual revenue nearing $4 billion. As the numbers increase there’s a concurrent increase in the involvement of physicians in med spa management.
In order to be able to practice medicine, most medical spas appoint a medical director. These licensed healthcare professionals supervise and delegate to other providers operating under their license. Because medical directors oversee protocols and treatment plans for all patients, as well as other duties outlined by their state licensing board, balancing medical responsibilities and business management can be demanding. Maintaining regulatory compliance, managing staffing needs, and nurturing a patient-centric environment necessitate careful navigation for positive patient outcomes.
The med spa industry is attracting physicians from a variety of specialties. According to a 2022 report by the American Med Spa Association (AmSpa), last year 69% of medical directors had backgrounds unrelated to the core aesthetic industry specialties of plastic surgery, facial plastic surgery, oculoplastic surgery and cosmetic dermatology. AmSpa speculates that the reasons non-core providers are shifting to aesthetics could include that they suffer from burnout, crave freedom and schedule flexibility, or want to channel their artistic talents.
Trends and Opportunities in Physician-Managed Urgent Care Centers
Urgent care centers have transformed the healthcare landscape by providing accessible and efficient medical services for non-life-threatening conditions. Physician-managed urgent care facilities emphasize quality care, shorter wait times, and extended operating hours to accommodate patients’ busy schedules.
The notion of urgent care started gaining popularity 20 years ago as a way to keep patients out of the emergency room and orthopedic offices. Today, the urgent care industry has grown to over 10,800 centers across the US, demonstrating its significance in meeting patients’ immediate medical needs. Physicians who manage these facilities can ensure that medical decisions are made promptly and in alignment with best practices, offering an alternative to crowded emergency rooms for non-emergent cases.
According to The Journal of Urgent Care Medicine, the industry is under threat from a decrease in the scope of care provided in urgent care clinics. The demand for services generated during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic challenged the industry. During that time urgent care centers started onboarding an influx of advanced practice practitioners (APPs) and family medicine providers, who are now the standard for urgent care. In 2012, only 31% of providers working in urgent care clinics were APPs. Today, that number is 84%. Yet, physician-led urgent care centers bring expertise and credibility to the field. Patients seeking prompt medical attention are reassured by the presence of licensed physicians overseeing their care.
Managing urgent care centers comes with its share of challenges. The need for quick decision-making and efficient processes can be demanding, and physicians must strike a balance between clinical responsibilities and administrative tasks, regulatory compliance, physician recruitment and maintaining a patient-centered approach. Physicians seeking to play only a supervisory role must rely on outsourcing tasks, especially since most of these centers lack the resources to have dedicated in-house staff for these critical initiatives.
Navigating the Future
The rise of physician-managed healthcare ventures has implications for both practitioners and patients. Patients benefit from the expertise of licensed physicians who prioritize medical standards and quality care. Med spas, urgent care centers and other physician-managed enterprises represent innovative models that prioritize quality care. As patients benefit, so can physicians. The demand for licensed physicians to manage these services offers an alternative career path while empowering doctors to lead on multiple fronts.