Case Study with Joyce Ip

Skin Health of Tomorrow

Intro and Overview

Vibrant Dermatology Opened May 2018

1 Dermatologist & 4 extenders

Patient population 50% Caucasian 50% Skin of Color

Favorite laser treatments: Acne, PIH, Rosacea, Inflammatory diseases

Special laser interest: Rosacea in Skin Type V and VI

7-month Revenues from Neo Elite: $200K

Joyce Imahiyerobo-Ip, MD, seeks to restyle ‘old-school’ medicine in the modern world of dermatology at her newly-established practice by taking more time to understand each patient’s needs and offer the latest services to deliver the highest levels of care. After implementing the Neo Elite as the device-based foundation of her dermatology practice, she’s been able to build a leading skin health haven for the ever-changing needs of her medical and aesthetic patient community.

Dermatologists are Being Held to a Higher Standard 

“As dermatologists, I think now more than ever before, it’s our responsibility and focus to be the best,” says Dr. Ip, “To be on top of everything that’s cutting edge to get our patients the results they are looking for. It’s what makes my practice unique and what draws people to me. I’m offering the modalities to get results no matter the issue. We’re increasingly going to be held to a higher standard. You can’t just offer run-of-the-mill or outdated therapies anymore. It’s extremely important to stay ahead of the curve.”  

This is the definition and expectation patients have for modern healthcare and their physicians. One of the primary driving factors influencing these standards and expectations is technology and patient access to it. Alexa is there to makes your life simpler. Siri is there to help make ordinary tasks easy. Technology is now engrained in culture as a way to better life experiences which patients now demand from their healthcare and skincare physicians. In fact, 50% of patients want technology to treat their medical condition. Not only are 70% of healthcare professionals seeing patient experiences as a major business priority, but those who are addressing it are realizing greater financial returns and retention rates.

It’s Easy to Become Jaded by Light and Energy-based Devices

“With my first job out of residency in 2013, we would rent a pulsed-dye laser, an alexandrite laser, a fractionated laser, and an IPL. Every time we did that we had to coordinate a laser day, keep in mind of the many different safety precautions. What ended up happening is me becoming dissatisfied with the results, especially for rosacea. I felt I would promise them improvement in three treatments with the pulsed-dye laser and a lot of people really weren’t seeing the improvement they needed.

“So, during this time I started to get a little jaded about lasers and felt they over-promised and under-delivered. Plus, you needed to have so many of them to have a comprehensive laser practice that it almost felt like I would never be profitable doing it as a solo physician. Because of all this, for the last three years at this practice, I completely got away from laser therapy.” 

“In 2018, I started thinking about opening my own private practice. It was time for me to be creative, to try new things, and to offer new treatments and products important to me. And with this risk I took another look into technology with a similar set of jaded beliefs of lasers being overall too expensive, not delivering results, and leaving patients disappointed. It wasn’t until a friend of mine introduced me to the Neo Elite I said, ‘maybe things have changed.’ It really amazed me how laser technology had been improved, how a single device could deliver results for so many indications. But, could it be true?  I still had my guard up. All device reps are in it to sell units, but my peers, the reviews, and the clinical results were so well aligned with my desires in opening a practice. I took a leap of faith to see if it met all my needs –and it has.”

My Laser Dermatology Practice

My goal was to be able to offer as many services as possible for the top conditions I knew my patients would be looking for. The most common things we use lasers for are reds and browns – veins, hyperpigmentation, photo-damage, and the like – but I was really enticed by some of the medical indications like psoriasis and inflammatory skin diseases. For me, I think it was actually comforting for me to start with one laser, to feel like “Okay, this is what I have. I’m going to learn this really well and I’m going to try to work it for every single thing I can to offer a comprehensive set of applications for my patients.”

 I’ve always been curious about the impact of laser light on acne. It’s helped allow me to revisit my acne patients on a more often basis and patients appreciate the follow up. They appreciate someone isn’t just sending them off with a bunch of medicines and saying, “We’ll see you in three to six months, good luck!”

This isn’t to say I solely rely on laser as the solution for my medical dermatology patients. It’s one of the ways I have been able to position myself to attract my clientele. I still take insurance. I still rely on prescriptions as medical therapies. There are many times where a patient is coming in and asking about the laser specifically like “I heard that you’re the doc that does laser for acne. I want to try that because I’ve tried everything else.” Sometimes patients will even say “Hey, you didn’t recommend laser for me. Why not?” Most people who come to me because of my reputation have already tried a lot of other things. They’ve been to other practices that have not been able to clear their skin and they’re frustrated. At this point, they’re willing to put their care in my hands because I offer the tools that will clear them. 

One of the most ironic things about being a doctor with a lot of experience with lasers is I’ve often been unable to get treatments on myself as a person of color. I can’t get treated by alexandrite. Long-pulsed Nd:YAG is so excruciating for laser hair removal I’d rather shave. Plus, I wouldn’t dare use a laser on my face for photo-rejuvenation. I learned on all of these devices yet wasn’t able to use them on myself as a person of color, but now I can with the Neo Elite. 

One area I’ve really been able to significantly impact people’s lives are people of color with rosacea. I was at a loss of how to treatment people of color with rosacea other than topical medications. The Neo Elite has really been a game changer for this.

Inclusivity and its Impact

Part of my branding is that we’re a colorblind practice.  My practice is 50/50 in terms of minority vs non-minority inclusive of Asian, Hispanic, Black, Caucasian, and Middle-eastern skin. It’s important to recognize this allows doctors to safely treat skin of color. This is something I think people who are not used to treating skin of color can really feel a certain level of confidence and to be put at ease that this is a laser that will allow them to do so safely.

There are so many bi-racial or bi-ethnic people and its naïve not to think about the whole market share. These people are looking for specialists who are with their skin. Regardless of race or ethnicity, we need to be comfortable treating and have options for treating all skin of all types. It’s understandable for physicians who treat skin of color patients to be concerned about the risk of complications in addressing melasma, acne, and PIH and other common skin concerns in the skin types. We and our patients of color have been educated that risks outweigh the benefits of laser treatment – but this is now outdated with the Neo Elite. It’s something Aerolase’s technology, it’s marketing focus, and education has been a pioneer for.

Revamping the Better Days of Medicine

I’m bringing back what I call the old school medicine. I intentionally want to see fewer patients. I intentionally want to take more time with each patient. I take a consultative approach to address the whole patient, which means aesthetic and medical.  I spend about 20-minutes with each patient to give us enough time to address the whole patient. I brand my space as a one-stop-shop for everything for your skin, hair, and nails and laser technology is a major component to my ability to be clinically and financially successful. 

When a patient puts their skin, hair, and nails into my hands, I’m making a deal to accomplish their goals. I think this is an area patients talk about that has given healthcare and, more specifically, dermatology a bad rep. You come into the office, you wait, you’re seen, you’re sliced and diced, and at the end of the visit you have no idea what happened to you. These are the patient concerns and views of medicine I’m trying to assuage by creating a totally different look and feel for my patients. 

Those frustrated patients that have come to me in the first place? I’m the one who tells them ‘I don’t’ know how long it’s going to take, but I know I’m going to get you clear.’ Because I have the right laser, the right products, and the services to do it. They’re the ones who post their before and after pics on Instagram tagging Vibrant Dermatology, feeling themselves, and saying ‘I love my skin.’

Supplemental Piece “My Brazen Blueprint for Opening a New Practice”

I think that if you are going to try to open a practice and to have all those multiple devices, you’re going to spend a lot of money. I don’t know that all of us have that money to spend. I certainly was very aware of my budget and not trying to bust my budget by buying multiple devices. I needed more flexibility there.

Even if you’ve trained on a pulsed-dye laser or an IPL where there are a gazillion IPLs, there’s a gazillion of KTP, they’re there’s a gazillion diodes. With each one, you have to learn new settings, you have to learn something new each time that you get a device. It’s not just like, “Oh, the settings that I learned in residency are in my laser binder, which I’m looking at in my bookshelf right now, are going to apply to the device that I have now.” The simplicity of the Neo Elite brings you is an incredible safeguard.

It’s a great laser for physicians who need a workhorse to treat core medical applications. So you can have just one laser for a multitude of conditions and safe and effective in all skin types from lightest to darkest. The Neo Elite clinical indications for patients with all skin types include acne, rosacea, melasma, PIH, psoriasis, photorejuvenation, skin rejuvenation and tightening, solar lentigines and/or redness. If I were starting a new practice out of residency and wanted to build a diverse practice, the Neo Elite is the one I would pick since I’m proof of with my own success. 

My biggest concern in starting a new practice was not going into ttoo much debt and figuring out how to recruit new patients and how. Because with having your own patients. The results you give matter more than ever before. You have to deliver results and because of my results and inclusiveness, I’m getting no less than 30% new patients from word of mouth. Skin of color patients will increasingly become the majority, and having one laser to address all aesthetic and medical concerns in this population will provide a dramatic and rapid return on your investment.

The laser is the most common procedure I do from a cash-based perspective. In our practice, I earned more than $200,000 with the Neo Elite from May to December of 2019. I’m doing it every day, multiple times a day, and if not, my aesthetician is using it because of its safe and intuitive design.

Table of Contents

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