Buying a laser for the first time can seem somewhat like jumping into a fast moving river. You may wonder if it will carry you onto greener pastures or if you’ll end up getting in over your head. It can certainly be a leap of faith to invest tens of thousands of dollars into a single piece of equipment. If you’re considering purchasing a laser for the first time and are nervous about your decision, you’re part of a big club. Most physicians are very concerned about making the right decision and have considerable apprehension before committing to a purchase of this amount.
In addition to the financial concerns, one of the most common reasons physicians get nervous about buying a laser is uncertainty that it will perform as promised. Be wary of companies and sales representatives that promise too much. Considering the physics and multiple variables involved with lasers, almost any system can be made to appear ideal for whatever the most popular procedures are. Make the effort to clearly understand what a system is realistically capable of. For example, a laser may have received FDA clearance for treating Fitzpatrick 6 skin types, but you may not realize that the power settings will have to be set so low that the overall effectiveness and number of treatments needed is unacceptable.
Another common reason physicians are sometimes reluctant to buy a laser is the notion that a better one will become available shortly after purchasing theirs. You can bet that it will. Improvements and upgrades are constantly being developed (similar to the computer industry) but that’s no reason to put off your purchase. You should decide if what you’re considering is right for you today. You’ll be facing the same issues even if you decide to wait a year. Also, take into consideration the potential revenues you’ll lose by waiting. The window of greatest opportunity is generally within the first two years of an advancement in technology or development of a new procedure. Successful physicians tend to recognize an emerging opportunity when it first presents and get into it early, establishing themselves as a leader in bringing the newest technologies to their community. If, after a certain period of time, the market isn’t what it was when you first bought your laser it won’t mean your system will be worthless. The demand for most services won’t go away and you will still be able to provide a much needed treatment that will benefit your patients. One advantage of having a particular laser for a long period of time is the experience you’ll have with it and the ability to tell patients exactly what to expect.
Adding a laser to your practice brings new high-tech treatment possibilities that will carry a certain appeal for many patients. Just as you may pick a car mechanic based on their use of sophisticated computer testing equipment, many patients are attracted to the doctor who offers the most modern equipment and services. This is especially important if competition for new patients is a factor. Once you get involved in this area of medicine, you’ll become exposed to other technologies you may have never considered that can enhance and expand these types of services. The most successful physicians tend to add complimentary systems and equipment over time. Be prepared to investigate any new opportunity or technology that will complement what you’re offering.
A word of caution, don’t buy a laser if you’re financially strapped and thinking it will miraculously bail you out of a tight financial situation. If you can’t make the commitment to making it work, financially and mentally, you’re not ready. If money is tight but manageable, consider getting a three month deferred lease to save capital for marketing and other expenses.
So how close to this particular river are you? Are you cautiously eyeing it from a distance waiting to see who else will get in first or are you standing on the bank ready to go? If you’ve done your research, feel comfortable with your decision, and are committed to making it work, then jump on in – the water’s fine.