CEO Spotlight: An Interview with Dermatologist Tim Ioannides MD
Tim Ioannides, MD is the founder and chief physician of Treasure Coast Dermatology, a dermatology practice in east Florida. With five locations in Martin, Saint Lucie and Indian River Counties – known as the “Treasure Coast” of Florida – the practice exclusively provides medical dermatological services that focus on the prevention and treatment of skin cancer as well as the overall health of the skin. In addition to his dermatological practice Dr. Ioannides is also an honorary associate professor at the University of Miami School of Medicine, where he regularly teaches dermatological and reconstructive surgery, and was also recently the senior author of two articles in the Journal of American Medical Association of Dermatology. Whether in his practice or outside of it, Dr. Ioannides has proven time and time again that his commitment to patient primary care remains and that helping others is the path to fulfillment in life.
CEOWORLD magazine: Why did you choose dermatology?
Tim Ioannides: Ultimately, I would say it was because of my parents who taught me from an early age that one can find true fulfillment in life by helping others. They were both in the medical field at the University of Miami; my mother was a technician at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, and my father actually started the school’s first dermatopathology laboratory. They were both known and respected in their respective fields, but they always told me it was not about recognition, but about being able to make a difference in as many lives as possible during their time on earth. Outside of their work, too, they always did everything to help others. I remember once as a child we had to call a plumber to our home because of a blocked sewer. When the plumber arrived, my father showed him to the bathroom, then immediately rolled up his sleeves and went to work to help him fix the problem. When they finished, the plumber turned to me and said, “Tim, your father is a great man. I’ve been doing this for 15 years and I’ve never been asked by a doctor if I need help! “
CEOWORLD magazine: And how did you come to start your own dermatological practice?
Tim Ioannides: After completing my specialist training, I took a job at a dermatology practice in Miami. While we offered medical-dermatological services such as cancer screening examinations and removal of moles, the focus was clearly on cosmetic interventions. Elective methods like botox or collagen injections were much more profitable as they didn’t have to be billed through an insurance company, so most practices offered them in some form at the time. While I do not condemn those who choose to have these procedures performed in any way, nor those who offer them in their practice, I found that I often left work feeling unfulfilled. Skin cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancer, yet it is the most common in both the United States and around the world and I felt I had not done enough to fight this epidemic. I was also looking for a slower pace out of town, and when the opportunity arose to open my own practice in Port St. Lucie, I took it.
CEOWORLD Magazine: Why a focus on medical dermatology?
Tim Ioannides: I didn’t know this when I picked Port St. Lucie, but the borough it’s located in has the second highest rate of skin cancer in the country. The combination of an aging population, often retirees who are not used to the sun and have never been properly trained to protect their skin, and the oceanfront location make for a perfect storm on the Treasure Coast. I wanted to build a company that would cover all aspects of skin cancer, from early detection and removal to education about how to prevent skin cancer in the first place. Many of my colleagues who have practices that offer cosmetic elective procedures tell me they wish they didn’t have to offer them, but without the money they bring in they couldn’t keep their business going. I never wanted to be committed to this or any other institution.
CEOWORLD magazine: What makes your company different from other dermatological practices?
Tim Ioannides: First of all, I wouldn’t be anywhere without the fantastic team that I have put together. Most of my nurses have been with me for over 15 years and I think that’s testament to the work culture we’ve developed. My practice now has five locations on the Treasure Coast of Florida, and while I know it’s customary to staff each location separately, we’ve developed a system that anyone can work with from all five locations. I want my practice to be primarily about patient care and our close-knit team means less confusion in the office. I am also careful when dealing with pharmaceutical representatives. As a medically focused dermatology practice, I want to make sure that the drugs I prescribe my patients are really the best on the market to meet their needs, and that means avoiding the often-used sales tactics like gifts or even free dinners . Finally, and perhaps most importantly in my opinion, my practice no longer uses electronic forms when visiting patients. I believe that one of the most important aspects of medicine is simply to be actively listening, which is difficult when you have your back on a patient ticking boxes on a screen.
CEOWORLD magazine: Do you feel that avoiding computerized records has slowed down your business in any way?
Tim Ioannides: On the contrary, I feel like it has tremendously improved my business as a whole. Let’s face it, nobody wants to visit the doctor’s office; It can be a stressful and anxiety-relieving experience whether you’re dealing with a medical problem or just going for an exam. My goal is to remove this inconvenience as much as possible, and I think one of the most important aspects of doing so is having your undivided attention during an office visit. Nobody wants to feel like they’re talking to the back of an office chair. More than half of our communication as humans is through body language, and as doctors, we need to give patients our full and undivided attention in order to fully understand what they are telling us. I would hate to miss anything important in what a patient is telling me because I was so focused on the screen in front of me, and in fact, I have to admit I did this before we said goodbye to computerized filing . One of my nurses actually suggested the move after one day I let her out of my frustration, pointing out that a few extra minutes of paperwork is nothing compared to the compassion we show our patients, and of course she was right.
CEOWORLD magazine: You talk a lot about fulfillment. What do you find the most fulfilling aspect of your job?
Tim Ioannides: As I said earlier, I believe that you will ultimately find fulfillment as you work toward the greater good of others. While I certainly feel joy when one of my patients successfully goes into remission, or when I spot a canker sore early, or even do something as simple as getting rid of eczema, I find the greatest fulfillment when I educate others. From surfing to fishing to lazy days on the beach, Florida is in our blood spending time in the sun and on the water, which means we are often hit by the sun’s UV rays not only directly from the source, but also from the water. I try to ensure that every single one of my patients is fully educated about sun avoidance tactics, from finding the shade to using sunscreen properly. I also regularly support the University of Miami, training medical students in dermatological surgery, and by training both the public and future medical professionals, I feel like I am doing everything in my power to help treat this treatable but widespread disease to fight.
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