There is no such thing as a “medical spa” in Florida. True! They are not uniquely licensed. In fact, they are usually not licensed at all because (1) they are owned and operated by licensed healthcare professionals, and/or (2) they do not file claims for reimbursement with health insurers. And they are not a regulated entity.
What then is a “medical spa”? It’s simply a place where people receive traditional spa services (e.g. facials), plus many other medical procedures, typically focused on cosmetic services (e.g. hair removal, Botox). It’s “medical” because of the nature of the services provided. It’s “medical” because (ideally) physician supervision is woven into the business model.
The trickiest part of medical spas for owners/operators is ensuring just two things: (1) that the professionals providing the services are doing so in a manner that doesn’t violate their licenses, and (2) those professionals have proper physician supervision. Each licensed person who typically works in a med spa is bound by statutes and regulations that govern what they can do and the degree (if any) of physician supervision required. The “scope of practice” regs applicable to PAs are different that those which apply to NPs or MAs for instance. The level of physician supervision is dictated not only by the license of the supervised professional, but also what the professional is doing. Rest assured, however, that the belief that such “formal” things do not apply because the patients pay in cash is not only untrue, but also a recipe for being shut down and prosecuted.
Other big challenges for med spas tend to be-
Fee splitting arising in connection with how the professionals are paid (especially when they are paid on a percentage of collections basis)
The Florida Patient Self Referral Act, which in part may limit to 50% the amount of physician ownership if the physician is in a position to refer to the med spa.
Regulatory scrutiny can be expected to increase in coming years, especially as the media shines more and more light on client injuries (typically burns from laser services) and the scope of services expands to include other menu items like hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which traditionally involves telemedicine related issues. Med spa owners would do well to take seriously the many intricate (and disconnected) regs applicable to the licensed professionals who work in med spas and the physicians who supervise them.