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Business Observer Friday, Dec. 28, 2018 2 months ago

Fourth clinic, new services set Florida Skin Center up for growth

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In 18 years, Florida Skin Center has grown from scratch to four clinics and 78,000 patients. It helps to strictly adhere to a patient-centric business model.
by: Andrew Warfield Lee-Collier Editor

Florida Skin Center founder Dr. Anais Badia approaches business growth the same way she does her dermatology practice: diagnose the condition and cure it.

The Miami native, for starters, opened her first clinic in in 2001 Fort Myers after her own market research revealed patients had to wait months to receive treatment locally.

She has since grown Florida Skin Center to four clinics in Southwest Florida, reporting $5.9 million in revenue in 2017, up 23.2% from $4.8 million in 2016. In May 2018, she opened her newest office, in Punta Gorda. That facility recently celebrated the grand opening of six Mohs surgical suites under the direction of Dr. Chetan Vedvyas.

The building and all its suites incorporate a spa-like feel and are decorated with high-end finishes. Suites include all necessary medical equipment and feature reclining chairs for companions, a refrigerator with beverages, microwave and complimentary hot lunch and snack items. Mohs surgical patients, who typically spend two to three hours in the suites, can listen to music or watch movies or shows on a high-definition screen.

“I knew that was a great opportunity because it is still sort of an undiscovered area,” says Badia of the Punta Gorda clinic. “I called dermatologists there to see about making appointments, and they told me they could not see me for a year-and-a-half or they weren’t taking new patients.”

'I go to a lot of doctors, and they are great doctors, but the customer service side doesn’t seem to be as important as we make it here.' Dr. Anais Badia, Florida Skin Center

It’s the same strategy Badia used to locate her second clinic, in Cape Coral, and her third, in Lehigh Acres: Identify an underserved area, then fill the need.

While practicing in the flagship Fort Myers office, an increasing number of patients expressed a need in Cape Coral. In Lehigh Acres, she went against the conventional wisdom of her peers to open her third office. “Lehigh is very underserved medically,” says Badia. “They really need bilingual physicians in that area, so we helped fill that need.”

In addition to performing Mohs surgery — a micrographically controlled surgery used to treat common skin cancers — in the Punta Gorda office, Vedvyas, is addressing the patient backlog Badia found in Charlotte County.

“Dr. Vedvyas is also seeing general dermatology patients, so that’s a huge move for us to get into that area,” says Badia. “We’re getting very busy there, and the population is very seasonal, so it’s definitely picking up.”

Badia and Florida Skin Center CEO George Gulisano are making plans for growth in 2019, but decline to share specifics. In an August interview, Badia says rather than additional brick and mortar locations, future growth will likely be internal, such as expanding hours into the evenings and weekends or adding services, such as cosmetic surgery and vein procedures.

Badia and Gulisano say Florida Skin Center will also implement communication technology that will enhance the flow of information between the clinic and the patients — designed to promote proactive care of their conditions.

“Precancer patients, for example, will have a certain diagnostic code so when they come to see us we will know they are at higher risk,” says Badia. “We are working to leverage the preventive aspect of our electronic medical records software to send messages to patients to remind them to see us before their condition worsens. If a patient has one skin cancer, they have a 40% lifetime risk of getting another, so this will help make sure they are screened appropriately.”

With a database of more than 78,000 patients and growing, Badia says the foundation of her growth model is a level of customer service uncommon in medical practice.

“That is how we've been able to grow,” says Badia. “Our focus is on the patients and making sure they receive high-quality care in a comfortable environment. I go to a lot of doctors, and they are great doctors, but the customer service side doesn’t seem to be as important as we make it here.”

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