Starting a business is a challenging task in any field, but it’s difficult to think of an industry where “what you don’t know can hurt you” quite as much as in the medical spa industry. That’s why, if you are planning on opening a medical spa, it is imperative that you engage a knowledgeable, experienced healthcare attorney as early in the process as possible.
Not What It Seems
The medical spa industry is not necessarily what it appears to be. Because medical spas offer treatments that are entirely elective and are not covered by healthcare plans, it is easy to mentally categorize them in the same space as retail outlets, such as traditional spas and salons. But doing so is an enormous mistake—medical spas are medical facilities, it’s right there in the name—and must be operated as such. That means a medical spa must observe the same rules that govern medical facilities, such as hospitals or doctor’s offices. And although that high standard of patient care might seem to be difficult to attain, it is vital that a medical spa’s owners and operators understand and respect the laws that regulate the industry.
But even that isn’t nearly as easy as it sounds. The laws to which medical spas are beholden vary from state to state and are typically quite complex and convoluted. For example, a medical spa’s ownership structure must conform to its state’s regulations that govern the ways in which a medical facility can be owned and operated. Its treatments must be administered according to its state’s laws
regulating supervision and delegation; and the manner in which it compensates its employees must fall in line with its state’s rules regarding fee-splitting—the act of diverting part of a patient’s payment to someone other than a physician or a physician-owned corporation. Violating any of these statues can result in licensure penalties and large fines, which can cripple a medical spa business before it even gets on its feet.
It’s a tricky space to navigate, but if you engage an experienced, attentive healthcare attorney early in the process of creating a medical spa business, you will be far more likely to avoid the obstacles that stand in your way. A rule of thumb for attorneys is that it costs at least twice as much to fix a problem than it does to create an infrastructure that prevents such a problem from ever happening. So although it might seem like hiring a lawyer is an unnecessary, extra expense at a time when a business is likely on a shoestring budget, it will almost certainly result in cost-savings throughout the life of the endeavor. In fact, any small business owner should have a good attorney on hand who specializes in the industry in which the business is operating.
There are several types of situations that often cause problems for medical spa professionals who haven’t consulted a healthcare attorney. For example, a person who wishes to open a medical spa may attempt to partner with entrepreneurs or doctors to open the doors. In cases such as these, it is imperative that an attorney help draft the partnership documents. Attorneys typically think of the worst possible outcome for each situation and then draft documents to protect their clients as much as possible should that outcome occur. So, when creating partnership documents, a lawyer will consider what would happen if the partners didn’t want to be partners anymore. Issues that usually are not considered when things are going well need to be addressed, so that when things aren’t going well, there is a plan in place.
All this needs to be done at the beginning. It does a medical spa owner no good to ask an attorney to solve a problem such as this after it arises. Without the proper documentation in place from the outset, there’s only so much that can be done.
More Legal Attention
Put simply, medical spas require a good deal more legal attention than the businesses with which they are often grouped. Failure to do this as early as possible might result in catastrophic consequences. So, if you are thinking about opening a medical spa, you owe it to yourself to consult an experienced healthcare attorney who is well versed in your state’s regulations as soon as possible. It will save you time, it will save you headaches, and in the long run, it will very likely save you a great deal of money.