5 minutes with… Gary Monaghan
In October, we caught up with Gary Monaghan, Director of The Cosmetic Consultants, who have over 20 years of experience in the cosmetic surgery industry, offering unique business advice on building clinics, marketing and business strategy and indemnity insurance.
Gary joined us for the ISAPS Symposium UK virtual meeting as a guest speaker for BAAPS Support covering the essentials you need to know for setting up an independent clinic or surgical facility. Read on for a snippet of his top tips…
What are your top tips for someone looking to set up their own surgical practice?
I think the dynamic has changed quite dramatically since I came into the industry. It used to be a relatively straight forward single pathway whereby surgeons would get practice privacies at their local private hospital, and they would rely on the patients that were generated by the marketing of the individual hospitals. Of course, they would have their own website and the more commercially minded ones would develop their own practice that way. But the dynamic has without doubt shifted in my view. There is a lot more competition online and a lot more interaction with social media, which 20 years ago just wasn’t there. There are more creative ways for patients to find surgeons and hospitals, so I think the surgeons nowadays have really got to look at the here and now. Social media is a huge research resource for patients to discuss surgeons and find venues, so if surgeons don’t embrace social media – they could struggle.
Plastic surgeons can’t compete with big groups, as some of these groups are spending up to 1 million pounds on marketing each year. So, no individual plastic surgeon can compete with that. So they need to be creative and use social media to get their face out there. Patients want to find out a little bit more about the surgeon and just a picture of them looking nice isn’t enough these days. A social media presence including regular videos can be extremely powerful.
Surgeons need to consider the different options in setting up a practice as well. Whether they’re setting up on their own or in partnership with other surgeons, there are more options than in the past so it’s important to look at the options and identify which one is best with long term goals in mind, considering the merits of each option.
How can surgeons make sure they stand out from their peers to convert prospective patients?
The element of specialisation. When plastic surgeons qualify, she or he can legally practice on any area of the body and do any procedure. But if you look at dentistry for example, which is a model where plastic surgeons are moving towards, dentists specialise so I can see this happening more and more with plastic surgery. In the old days, a surgeon would do head, neck, thorax, abdomen, legs etc but nowadays surgeons are quite rightly specialising in a few areas.
I think there are two advantages of that: one is they will get better at it, become well known for it and therefore the patient will be a little bit more comfortable with their expertise; and secondly, from a medical legal standpoint. Surgeons don’t like getting sued, in fact, nobody does. So imagine you did a cross section of 20 procedures but you did them a few times a year there is no doubt that you’re not going to be as good at all of those procedures than if you just took 5 of those procedures and did them day in day out. So the medical legal world is changing as well. Surgical indemnity prices and incredibly high and surgeons are now concentrating on doing a few procedures very well.
What is your main piece of career advice for surgeons looking to commercialise and get their own practice?
I think the best advice is to talk to your peers. There are incredibly successful surgeons in the UK and they’re more open to helping peers than in the past. There is a lot of engagement from the senior surgeons, helping the younger surgeons and training them commercially as well as clinically. It’s a relatively small community so the best resource that they’ve got is their senior colleagues.
How can surgical and non-surgical communities work together in the future?
Jumping back 10 years I don’t recall any joint surgical and non-surgical meetings like CCR as they used to be fairly separated. But the dynamic has changed down to the advancement of technology which means that some procedures that were previously only possible with the skill and technique of a surgeon, can now almost be achieved in the non-surgical area as well. Treatments such as radiofrequency, for example, can give great results for skin tightening, which previously would have only been possible with surgical intervention. Surgeons are now looking at the broader interest of the patient which includes non-surgical procedures. Of course, some procedures will never be possible without the surgical realm but the borders with other procedures such as liposuction, skin tightening, and skin rejuvenation have been blurred over the last 5 – 10 years.
I can see the industries getting closer, particularly, as more surgeons get their own facilities. The private hospitals don’t seem ready to engage with the non-surgical side but the clinics that surgeons are building themselves seem to embrace it. I think that’s a good thing as it gives the patient choice as well. Many patients fear anaesthetics and scars, so it gives the surgeons the option to give a treatment that reduces or diminishes some of those fears. I can only see the surgical and non-surgical industries getting stronger together and I think it’s great.
What aesthetics trends do you expect to see in the coming months?
In the surgical field, one trend that is out there is the desire to have your own premises. Pre-COVID I think surgeons wanted to leave private hospital groups and now their idea of building their own premises has been exacerbated because the pandemic has affected their business phenomenology. Surgeons now want their own practice to be in control of their own destiny. I’ve seen that more in the last 12 months than I have in the last 10 years put together. It’s following the model that a lot of other countries have. Most surgeons in America, Europe, Australia and so on already have their own premises so it’s not surprising that it’s going in that direction in the UK.