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Get device savvy before spending the big bucks on something that will quickly collect dust in your practice

Key iconKey Points

  • Questions to ask before buying a new device include:
  • Do you like doing the procedure that the device will allow you to perform?
  • Do you need to do the procedure or can you supervise other staff to do it?
  • Does the device fit into your practice?
  • Are patients demanding the procedure?
  • What are your plans for marketing the new device?

Dr. Dayan
Just as New Year's resolutions are often short-lived, so, too, can plans to increase your practice's business by expanding your patient offerings via a new piece of equipment — if you don't put in enough deliberation beforehand. That latest and greatest device you just had to purchase — thanks to slick advertising, well-meaning peers or an enthusiastic manufacturer's rep — can soon be sitting in your storeroom gathering dust.

But it doesn't necessarily have to be that way, says Steven H. Dayan, M.D., who is in practice at the Center for Facial Plastic Surgery and a clinical assistant professor at the University of Illinois.

Dr. Keller
A 'CHOOSING' CHECKLIST Dr. Dayan tells Cosmetic Surgery Times he has first-hand experience making mistakes in acquiring devices and so offers other cosmetic surgeons guidance for making smart purchases. CST also spoke to Gregory S. Keller, M.D., F.A.C.S., to learn his device acquisition tips. Dr. Keller, associate clinical professor of surgery and co-director, Facial Plastic Surgery Fellowship at UCLA, states that a device should pay for itself, in gross receipts, in about six months with an expected use cycle of at least three years. "Some machines last longer, and most have applications beyond this usage cycle, but I use it as a rule of thumb," explains Dr. Keller. Because different practices have different needs, Drs. Dayan and Keller recommend asking the following questions. Your answers may lead you to a purchase—or you may discover you're better off keeping the practice's checkbook closed.


1. Do you like doing the procedure that the device will allow you to perform?

Adding the device to expand your practice will mean you'll be doing the procedure a lot. Your interest and skill in doing the procedure will affect how much you promote and use the device.

2. Do you need to do the procedure or can you supervise other staff to do it?

"Some laser procedures can easily be done by trained personnel within the office, saving a physician's time for higher paying surgical procedures and multiplying practice income, while others are better performed by the physician," explains Dr. Keller.

3. Does the device fit into your practice?

Consider how much time is needed to perform a procedure with the new device and if that fits with your typical scheduling system, advises Dr. Dayan. If you tend to schedule patients on a fast-paced, 5-to 10-minute interval, then performing a 20-to 30-minute procedure might put a kink in your schedule.

Dr. Keller agrees. The device has to be a good fit with your existing practice.

4. Are patients demanding the procedure?

The device won't get usage if patients aren't asking for the procedure in a cosmetic surgery setting. For example, Dr. Dayan relates that he's rarely asked to do hair removal anymore because patients have it done at lower cost at med spas.

Dr. Keller, too, says patient demand is a key factor he considers before purchasing a device. The need and interest among patients has to be there for the outcome to be successful.

5. What are your plans for marketing the new device?

For a busy practice, Dr. Dayan recommends word-of-mouth publicity spread by existing patients. A smaller, start-up practice will find it more difficult to market the device and will have to put forth more effort, he notes.

6. What will your return on investment be?

When calculating revenues and expenses, don't forget to include the cost of device disposables, cost to upgrade when new technology becomes available, and other less obvious expenses.

If, after asking yourself these questions, you find you're leaning towards purchasing a device, Dr. Dayan suggests a subsequent checklist before committing.

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