Daniel Kaufman MD stays busy with clinics in Manhattan's Upper East Side, the East Village, Brooklyn, and a location in Garden City, Long Island.
Name: Daniel Kaufman, MD
Location: New York, NY
Thats interesting: He holds a Master of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of New York University. In fact, he helped create the program, just after completing his medical degree.
What is your professional approach to cosmetic medicine?
Training in plastic surgery, you learn about a wide variety of surgical procedures, cosmetic and reconstructive, that can be utilized in a multitude of medical situations. As a plastic surgeon facing difficult medical problems, I always strive to not only improve the function of various body parts, but also to improve the cosmetic picture, and in turn, help the patient achieve an overall sense of well-being and health.
I find that improving a person's appearance can not only help in a superficial way, but boost their confidence and allow the real personality to come shining through, thus helping the patient's psyche in a profound and deeply meaningful way. And every patient is different. They all want very specific things and have different cosmetic goals. Whether it's opening up a person's eyes with a brow lift and eyelid lift, or perhaps contouring those resistant love handles that just won't respond to our efforts at the gym, it's always a pleasure to see the marked improvement we can make in our patients' lives. And we can do it for a variety of different patients in a variety of different ways. Once I was able to see cosmetic surgery in that way, I got hooked!
Can you tell us more about your clinic? What is your patient population like?
Our practice offers the full gamut of options for rejuvenation of the body and face. People love to ask me "Doctor, look at me and tell me what do I need?" Well, we pride ourselves on never pushing any treatment on any of our patients. Our answer is always "Well, tell me, what is bothering you?" Then, we systematically and methodically address every concern with the patient, and go thru all of the treatment modalities that can help in that particular situation. We always start with the least invasive and simplest option and work our way up from there.
Our patient population is very diverse, from women in their mid 20's getting a headstart with Visia skin analysis, chemical peels and Botox, to middle-aged women seeking rejuvenation of the eyes and face using blepharoplasty and facelift. We also get our share of men trying to improve their appearance and stay looking their best. We don't discriminate and definitely don't judge. We have offices in Manhattan's Upper East Side and East Village neighborhoods, an office in Brooklyn, and we recently added a location in Garden City, Long Island. Our patients are often seen in several offices to add to their ease and convenience. I'm involved in the care of each and every patient, and with careful consultation with our aesthetician, we arrive at the best solution individualized to tailored to our patients' specific goals.
What are your key principles for effective staff management?
Staffing the office is one of the most difficult things a young plastic surgeon faces. It is true that the office staff is the very face of your practice, and that patients make decisions based on the staff's demeanor and attitude. Let's face it, in plastic surgery and aesthetic medicine customer service is of paramount importance. People want to feel like they're being taken care of. Our office staff is tight-knit - we like to think of ourselves as a team. Our patient coordinator and aestheticians are sweet as can be. Their kind, patient, considerate, and are always willing to go the extra mile. Any personnel with intimate patient contact are "coached" by me to deal with the various issues they can be expected to handle. We even role-play sometimes just to practice - it's fun and it actually helps. Another big component is utilizing people's strengths - let 'em do what they love and what they're good at. For now, our compensation packages are simple, but as the business expands, more sophisticated, incentived, reimbursement packages can be utilized to increase worker productivity. We try to keep morale high and make work fun - that's when everybody does best.
What mistakes should physicians be aware of to become good financial managers?
One way to get a good handle on your finances as you grow your practice is not to get caught up in all the gimmicks that inevitably bombard the office. As cosmetic lasers have not yet been a consistent part of our practice, any laser cases are done in ambulatory surgery facilities with that capability. Technology is moving at a light-speed pace, and new and more capable machines are developed each day. It's always sad to see an up-and-coming practice get bogged down with heavy monthly payments for a laser machine that is obsolete or no longer in demand. I do my best to keep up with different technologies with various seminars and continuing education courses. My biomedical engineering background makes it easy to understand all the engineering jargon, but you just need to know what you need to know. I find that growth of a cosmetic practice is best when it's organic and substantive.
What have you learned about marketing your clinics?
Marketing the practice is something that I realized very early in my career was a necessary component for growth. We have a marketing specialist for the 21th century. Background in graphic design and computer programming, internet savvy and a little spunk - she's the one that gets us on the first page of plastic surgery searches on Google, Yahoo, and Bing - that gets the patients in the door. Many young doctors don't realize it until well into their careers, but your name is already out there with various "find-a-doc" sites.
At our office, we've employed several methods of constant monitoring for internet presence, ensuring accurate and optimized information with maximized weblinking into our website and facebook page. There's a lot you can learn just by talking to internet marketers - no need to reinvent the wheel. I would highly recommend hiring a full-time person on that task. Sure, print ads and radio and tv spots are influential, especially since they can live forever on your own website, but they can be expensive.
What treatments or services are most profitable for you?
As a surgeon, I have to say that the most profitable use of my time is in the operating room. But, I never let that influence my treatment plan for a patient. Honestly, I'm uncomfortable discussing money.
What have you learned about practicing cosmetic medicine?
Practicing plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine, I've learned to be patient and how to be a good listener. My patient satisfaction rate has gotten considerably higher since I started out. Yes, that's partly because I'm a better surgeon, but it's also because I select my patients better these days. I turn patients down for surgery more often because I listen carefully to them. If I find that their expectations are unrealistic and that I could not make them happy with the results that I can deliver, then it's simple: I just don't do that case. It's been a challenge honing the skill of patient selection, but that's something that I fully expect to always be doing. We talked earlier about practice marketing, and some funny marketing stories come to mind. The best marketing, obviously, is our own patients' referrals. The referrals that I love the most are the families that come in, like the mother-daughter Botox-filler combo, or the couple getting their lipo together for Valentine's day gifts. Some of the family drama is hilarious.... I wish I could tell you, but, HIPAA and all....
What words of wisom would you give to physicians that they could use in their own practices?
There are so many things that must be learned during the process of developing a private practice in plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine. My advice to young doctors is to take it easy and let things develop naturally. There are plenty of examples out there for you to guide your marketing strategies - they're out there on the internet, you just have to spend the time to do the research. And if you can't do it, pay someone to do it - it's one of the best investments you will have ever made. Be open to different and new ideas but consult with your peers before signing any contract or committing to any long term investments. Have a solid business plan, but be prepared to be flexible and go in directions unforeseen. Other than that, have a hobby that can take it all away. Hope this helps.
About: Dr. Daniel Kaufman is a Board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon. He is the founder and medical director of Discreet Plastic Surgery, PC, with offices in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Garden City, Long Island. Dr. Kaufman is recognized by his patients, peers, and mentors as a compassionate surgeon with artistic vision and excellent technical skills.
A Cum Laude Honors graduate from Binghamton University, Dr. Kaufman earned his medical degree at the State University of New York – Downstate Medical Center, where he was elected to the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha National Medical Honor Society. An accomplished researcher, Dr. Kaufman has published in numerous peer-reviewed medical journals, and has been invited as a speaker at major national and international scientific meetings. He also holds a Master of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of New York University, keeping him on the forefront of state-of-the-art technological advancements and emerging plastic surgery techniques.He also holds a Master of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of New York University, keeping him on the forefront of state-of-the-art technological advancements and emerging plastic surgery techniques.
Dr. Kaufman completed a rigorous residency training program in General Surgery at Downstate Medical Center, where he served as Chief Resident at some of New York’s top hospitals. Continuing his postgraduate training as Fellow in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the renowned Montefiore Medical Center – Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Dr. Kaufman again served as Chief Resident, operating with some of the most preeminent plastic surgeons in the country. Dr. Kaufman specializes in aesthetic surgery and body contouring, including liposuction or liposculpture, breast augmentation, breast reduction and lifting, tummy tuck, upper arm lifting, Brazilian butt-lift, and fat grafting. He also specializes in cosmetic surgery of the face, neck, eyebrows, eyelids, nose, and non-operative facial rejuvenation. Dr. Kaufman is a Diplomate of the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
This interview is part of a series of interviews of physicians running medical spas, laser clinics and cosmetic surgery centers. If you'd like to be interviewed, just contact us.