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Providing High-Level Patient Care

Years of medical school prepared Anais Aurora Badia, M.D., to be a physician, but not an entrepreneur.

Still, that didn’t stop Badia from starting a Southwest Florida practice after finishing her residency in dermatology in 2001. This fall, she plans to open a third Florida Skin Center location in Lehigh Acres. As a Spanish-speaking, female, pediatric dermatologist, Badia has created a unique practice to treat children and adults in Southwest Florida.

A fifth-generation physician who completed her pediatrics residency at Miami Children’s Hospital and dermatology residency at Albany Medical Center in New York, she saw an opportunity to start her own practice on Florida’s west coast after learning existing practices had long wait times. She rented a space next to Gulf Coast Hospital and opened her first Florida Skin Center six months later.

She took out a Yellow Pages ad and provided a local number. People left messages, and at night, she would call them back to schedule an appointment.

“My first day, I had 13 patients scheduled,” she says. “I was busy immediately, I think because of the need in the area. I was booked out three to four months right away.”

She then expanded her office and moved across from Gulf Coast Hospital in 2005. She opened a second location in Cape Coral in 2012. Patients come from Southwest Florida, as well as cities such as Orlando, for pediatric dermatology and other specialized services. Her patient base is about 60,000. She and two more board-certified dermatologists in the practice see about 450 patients a week and the practice has about 23 employees in total.

Putting patients first is a core value, and she measures her practice’s success through regular surveys by independent companies. Positive reviews result from the quality of medical care provided by the staff, which includes two board-certified physician assistants, and a focus on customer service from the beginning to the end of the visit.

Employees are trained to greet patients in a friendly way, and when at check out, they are asked a final time: “Were you satisfied with your visit? Were all your questions answered today?”

“If a patient is not happy in any way, we reach out and make sure we talk to that patient,” she says. Being a physician-entrepreneur gives her the opportunity to grow a business from a vision and make her own decisions, at least as much as possible in today’s challenging health care marketplace. Often, she starts treating a child, and then gains the entire family as patients. Providing samples, coupons and pre-authorizations are ways her practice makes it easier and more affordable for patients to get pricey medications.

If an insurer drops her practice from coverage one year and then later returns, Florida Skin Center emails patients with that insurance to let them know their services are covered again.

“They come back. We have a lot of patient loyalty,” she says.

She says business owners must have loyal employees to be successful. She’s invested in her workforce, many of whom are bilingual, by offering scholarships to pursue their education and training in areas as diverse as billing and skin treatments.

“We make sure they feel that they can grow within the company,” Badia says. “We try to promote from within and by doing that, then we feel like we have a more solid employee base. They’re more loyal to us.”

Her employees organize volunteer efforts, which include giving to a different organization every month and participating in local and national fundraisers. Her practice is involved with the March of Dimes, ACT (Abuse Counseling & Treatment) and Southwest Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. As a regional representative for the Miles for Melanoma 5K, Florida Skin Center raised more than $10,000 for melanoma research, advocacy and education in 2016. On its annual Children’s Day, held in June, the practice provides free treatments and examinations to more than 100 kids.

“The underlying purpose is really to promote skin health within the community,” she says.

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