Q & A with Tim Ioannides, Founder of Treasure Coast Dermatology

The medical field is filled with some of the world’s brightest minds, and those minds influence decisions, save lives, and dictate the direction of the entire medical field. Moreover, medical professionals dedicate their lives to serving their field, usually within the confines of an overseeing entity, hospital, or other structure. However, medical professionals sometimes take on the role of entrepreneurs in an effort to dictate their medical direction in a concise, controlled, and passionate manner. They parlay their greatest skills to open the exact type of practice that drives their medical mind, and utilize their inner business savvy to successfully grow their namesake practices. This bold scenario was certainly the case for Dr. Tim Ioannides, who decided to venture on his own as a result of an unwavering desire to practice medical dermatology, in a realm where modern dermatology focused on cosmetically driven procedures.

Tim Ioannides earned his medical degree at the University of Miami School of Medicine, and completed a vastly impressive internship program at University of Florida School of Medicine Health Science Center. As is the case with medical professionals, he completed the next step of his impressive career, the residency, at the University of Miami School of Medicine in the Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery at Jackson Memorial Hospital. Upon his completion of these career milestones, Dr. Ioannides entered the private sector, beginning his work at a Dermatological Center that focused primarily on cosmetic procedures. Though he was successful within his role, Dr. Ioannides sought to make a resounding difference in the lives of patients, and strongly believed in pursuing this goal by engaging solely in medically driven dermatological practices.

Thus, he eventually sought to open his own practice, and vowed to focus solely on a proactive approach to healthcare, including the treatment of skin conditions, removal of tumors, and comprehensive treatment of skin cancers. Dr. Ioannides founded Treasure Coast Dermatology to serve the Martin, Port St. Lucie, and Indian River Counties. He relied on his instinctual business savvy to create a strong infrastructure for his growing business, and utilized his intrinsic belief structure to build a practice that focused on building strong patient relationships, believed in face-to-face interaction, placed the patients’ needs above all else, and functioned as a comprehensive team at all times.

Due to his hands on approach with each patient, as well as the environment that his belief system created throughout the practice, Dr. Ioannides was able to expand the business to include five locations to date. With raving reviews from loyal patients, an extremely low turnaround for staff, and a continued focus on medical dermatology, Dr. Tim Ioannides has truly built a successful, and continuously growing, business that maintains its’ integrity, and allows him to live his life’s passion on a daily basis.

Why did you decide to venture on your own, instead of finding a suitable dermatological practice already in existence?

The professional field that I entered completely drives me, and is humbling, fulfilling, and exhilarating. I entered the field for the chief purpose of inherently changing people’s lives for the better in a deep, meaningful manner. With the prevalence of skin cancer rising, and so many people lacking the needed knowledge to proactively protect their skin from various risk factors, I had a stringent focus on dedicating my professional life to this cause. However, I found myself performing more cosmetic procedures, including fillers, and injections. Cosmetic dermatology is driven by totally different incentives, desires, and motivations for patients. Personally, for me, it just wasn’t a fit, and very quickly, I began to understand that I would never be truly fulfilled if I wasn’t able to practice the niche field of medicine that I found to be so meaningful. Thus, rather than relying on the luck of finding a more fitting location, I decided that maintaining control of the overall atmosphere of a practice, the focus of the practice, and the scope of work performed would be the most feasible long term plan for me.

In the very beginning, of course, I had a fledgling business to support, and of course, I did have to perform some cosmetic procedures in order to scale my operations. As I ventured on the journey of entrepreneurship, a scary thought for a doctor, I reminded myself of my desire to control what type of procedures I perform, and created a concise goal that would allow me to only focus on medical dermatology as soon as financially possible. I quickly reached that goal, and have focused on skin cancers, and skin disorders, ever since.

How has your professional background prepared you for your role as founder of Treasure Coast Dermatology?

As many people can probably imagine, the medical field relies on facts, constants, and precision. Many times, medical professionals are literally dealing with life or death situations, where there is no room for error, speculation, or waffling. In the same manner, entrepreneurship shares similar characteristics, though obviously not within life and death conditions. As an entrepreneur, one must be able to make informed decisions, assess risks appropriately, manage an entire support team, create a hierarchy of needs and tasks to accomplish in a timely manner, prioritize based on those tasks, and move forth in the face of failure. Though all of these things happen in a differing scope, the feelings behind the actions are fueled by the same desire to succeed, provide service, and grow. Indirectly, my experiences as a successful Dermatologist have prepared me to be confident in business decisions, and to always stick to my convictions when it comes to my practice as a business, much like the medical side of things.

Additionally, having amassed some practical professional experience prior to spearheading my own business venture has allowed me to garner insider insights related to the type of practice I want to run. After experiencing various factors that can determine success, including varying team dynamics, operational practices, and different mission statements, these experiences helped to concisely shape and dictate my own business practices. Throughout my early professional career, and formal education, I have also been fortunate to work alongside a diverse population of people, and to serve a diverse population of patients. This has allowed me to perfect the interpersonal skills needed to successfully provide empathetic services, understand dynamics between people, and gain the best possible outcomes.

What type of services does Treasure Coast Dermatology provide, and how do you measure the success of your practice?

As I’ve previously mentioned, I wanted to solely focus on medically driven dermatology. Thus, Treasure Coast Dermatology provides an array of services that center around skin disorders, and skin cancers. Those services include Mohs Surgery (a micrographic surgery for the removal of skin cancer), biopsy and treatment of all skin cancers, dermatological education, and comprehensive treatment for skin disorders, from Psoriasis to Seborrheic Keratoses.

Though there are certainly measures for business success, and various means of garnering financial data to back-up perceived success, I tend to view “success” as more wholesome and all-encompassing. On a daily basis, I consider every initial consultation that results in the beginning of a long-term relationship with a new client as a small success toward building a trusted, well-respected, and growing practice. On a larger scale, of course, I recognize that an increase in patients, and an increase in profit allows for the practice to scale accordingly, and open new locations that will undoubtedly serve an increasing population. Thus, these measures of success are certainly tangible. Most importantly, however, I measure the success of the practice by its’ continued reputation within the community, and the people who choose to trust our team with such important aspects of their lives.

Why is corporate culture important to you? How does Treasure Coast Dermatology implement regulations and structures to maintain positive employee relations?

Early in this entrepreneurial adventure, I have certainly made a few mistakes that I have greatly learned from, mostly pertaining to the manner of handling interoffice conflict, employee relations, and the importance of the team as a whole. In the past, I have considered an individual’s talents above the general opinion of the entire entity, which has led to prolonged negative situations.

For example, if Jane was an absolutely outstanding Office Administrator, but created a toxic environment for co-workers on a personal, and constant, level, she clearly impacts the overall efficacy of the office in a negative manner. However, because Jane’s individual talents were not affected, I would have been more likely to suppress my feelings in regard to Jane’s negative interpersonal relationships. However, I have learned that one person’s negative attitude can negatively impact the entire team, and create a hostile environment that can begin to spill into the overall atmosphere of the practice, where patients can potentially be negatively impacted as well. As the patients are the number one priority, this obviously can’t happen.

Thus, I’ve learned to keep this scenario in perspective, and administer the appropriate administrative consequences at the first sight of poor interoffice communication, or other interpersonal issues within the office. By following this example, I am confident that I have successfully built a strong team of individuals who function well together, and come together to focus on patients, perform their duties to the best of their abilities, and help foster the environment that we all work hard to parlay on a daily basis, and on a long-term basis.

What sets Treasure Coast Dermatology apart from other dermatological centers?

While modern dermatology tends to focus on cosmetic procedures, Treasure Coast Dermatology solely provides medical dermatology services. In that regard, we specialize in dermatological issues that require medical intervention, and are often serious. As medical dermatology was always my passion, I am proud to be able to specialize in the treatment of skin cancers, and to pursue what drives me professionally.

Treasure Coast Dermatology also differs in our patient approach. With a wholesome approach to comprehensive healthcare, our entire team truly believes that our relationships with patients are vital to the success of their treatment. For example, we believe that a trusting, compassionate, and well-developed relationship with a patient will allow them to feel confident in speaking up about symptoms, delving into sometimes embarrassing symptoms, and being otherwise open with their treatment team. In turn, this allows the entire treatment team to be well versed in each patient’s symptomatology, aesthetic qualities of skin, and other important clues that will allow us to treat the patient in the most effective manner.

For this reason, we go to extensive measures to ensure that we develop, maintain, and foster positive relationships with all of our patients. This means we spend quality face-to-face time with our patients, which isn’t always the case for other medical practices! Though many practices have employed the use of electronic medical records, in a perceived effort to save time, this practice has had negative impacts on their patient relations. Many medical professionals spend the majority of an appointment with a patient looking at a screen, digitally chronicling various factors, and missing an opportunity to truly connect with their patients. This leads to a lack of confidence on the patient’s side, limited verbal interaction, and an overall stunted relationship.

At Treasure Coast Dermatology, we spend each appointment providing consistent medical care, without having to spend our time in front of a screen. We take traditional patient notes, and I dictate notes via ipad to my transcriptionist at a speed that undoubtedly matches the seconds gained by utilizing electronic medical records.

Additionally, our team takes patient feedback very seriously, aiming to make the patient experience as pleasant, meaningful, and effective as possible. From choosing the television programming available in our waiting rooms, to changing subtle aspects of surgical procedures, we aim to provide unparalleled customer service to our patients. Thus, I am confident that our patient-centric approach is what sets us apart from many other medical practices.

What does a normal day look like for you, and how do you maintain productivity throughout the day?

Though my days do vary, I try to wake up around 6:00am each morning. I like to start each day with a workout, and find that being active in the morning sets me up for a productive day, and makes me feel accomplished. Upon completing a workout, I usually help my wife get our kids ready for school, and then set out to get to work. As Treasure Coast Dermatology now has five operating offices, I often go to multiple offices throughout the day, based on the day’s medical lineup.

I am fortunate enough to have a core team that travels with me from office to office, which allows everyone to be on the same page, and streamlines our daily operations. I see each patient that walks through the doors personally, and thus, spend the majority of my work day seeing patients.

What excites you about the future of your field?

In medicine in general, things are always progressing, changing, and evolving. Advancements are being made each day that help thousands of people with various conditions to lead meaningful lives. Many times, these advancements literally save lives. Thus, the medical field is continuously evolving, and changing for the better. I feel proud, lucky, and incredibly grateful to be a part of the medical community, and to take part in the advancements of our generation.

Within the field of dermatology, there are countless efforts being made, research being conducted, and tests being ran to treat skin cancer, prevent skin cancer, and spread knowledge related to skin cancer. With skin cancer being much more prevalent than the general public seems to recognize, the thought of eradicating skin cancer is an enthralling one. A few years ago, I was involved with research for a new skin cancer vaccine, which aims to parlay vaccination based on the idea that skin cancer acts like an infectious disease, and therefore, can be treated as one. This vaccine has shown considerable promise with helping decrease skin cancer cells in clinical trials, and could potentially be the biggest breakthrough in dermatology within my lifetime. How’s that for exciting?

Do you prefer to use any particular type of software or web service to promote greater productivity?

As I’ve mentioned previously, I do not utilize electronic medical records within my practice, as I believe that the use of extensive computer screens minimizes face-to-face patient interactions, and comes at the cost of building a positive patient relationship. Additionally, I wouldn’t say that I’m the world’s most technologically savvy person. Thankfully, I have a wonderful Information Technology Manager, and other staff members, who maintain the web presence of the practice, and allow us to thrive within today’s electronically driven atmosphere.

I do, however, rely on the utilization of dictation software in order to streamline patient notes. Typically, I will dictate detailed notes into an iPad, and email them to the Transcriptionist, who will transcribe them on my behalf. This has streamlined the process entirely, and has allowed me to utilize the extra time seeing additional patients. In the past, I used to dictate my notes into a small recording device, and would have to fill an entire tape prior to transcribing the content of the tape. Of course, this meant that if the tape malfunctioned, I would lose an entire day’s worth of dictation. This has amounted to endless frustration, and thus, the utilization of this technology has aided in my daily operational needs.

What advice would you give to others aspiring to succeed in your field?

I would encourage young medical professionals, and students alike, to ensure that they are entering a field that they are truly passionate about, one that drives them wholly. Between working long hours, being on call at all times, studying for countless tests, and the need for ongoing education throughout an entire career, the field of medicine can be particularly taxing. Thus, in order to merely make it through these transformative educational experiences, one must be dedicated to their chosen niche. Once one enters the field, it is equally as important to focus on providing the exact type of medical services that one believes in. Using myself as an example, I can profoundly and confidently state that it is absolutely crucial to believe in the services that you are providing. Though I was actively in the field of dermatology, I knew that I wanted to solely pursue medically driven dermatological procedures, versus cosmetic procedures. I chose to listen to my instincts, and have parlayed my passion into a successful practice.

What book would you recommend to readers, and why?

Though it is somewhat of an old book, I always recommend “How To Win Friends and Influence People”. I have read this book several times, at the recommendation of a professional that has changed the manner in which I see other professionals through their own perspectives. Each time I revisit this book, I find new lessons that I can employ within my own existence, and find new ways of understanding people from all walks of life. The ability to do so is absolutely crucial within the medical field, as one will work closely with people from all walks of life, with different motivations, belief systems, fears, and influences.

The story behind this recommendation is poignant for me, and has stuck with me for over twenty five years. At the time of my medical school studies, Florida’s most prominent medical malpractice attorney, JD Spence, was booked to speak to my class. In my eyes, and in the eyes of many classmates, this man was our sworn enemy. He won large judgments against doctors, after all. We just couldn’t see past what we thought must be his personal vendetta against the medical field. Following his talk, I couldn’t shake these feelings, and decided to raise my hand, and ask him directly to explain himself. I said, “How did you do it? To us, you are the enemy. You are trying to bankrupt us, and we know that sometimes you sue doctors who have not made mistakes. How did you do it?”

To answer this loaded question, he said “I win cases because they like me. What I look for in a doctor is not only the strength of the case, but a lot of times, I will take a weak case if the doctor is very hateable. In other words, if patients do not like you, and juries do not like you, I am going to win money.” He paused, and finished up by stating “My purpose is to win money. I am here to make a living.”

Then, he recommended that we read “How To Win Friends And Influence People”. I was so moved by his answer, and the enlightenment that I felt that day. Thus, I rushed to the nearest bookstore, and purchased the book. In between all of my medical school duties, I found the time to read through the contents of the book, and found the contents to resonate immediately. I think it gives an alternative perspective on how to deal with people in a much more warm and kind manner, rather than in a confrontational one. No matter what field one is involved in professionally, dealing with people in an understanding manner is a universal theme!

Follow Tim Ioannides on Twitter and Medium.

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