In this installment of Meet the Merchant, we speak to Ildikó Juhasz, regardingDerm.ca dermatology clinic and Revoderm.com, in Calgary, Alberta. Juhasz shares how her clinic and online skin care, which offers both medical and cosmetic dermatology care, was able to pivot to telemedicine during the pandemic.
Clover: Hello Ildikó! Can you tell us about your business?
Ildikó Juhasz: Sure! I’m the CEO and the co-founder of Derm.ca and Revoderm.com, which is a dermatology clinic where we offer both cosmetic and medical treatments. We also have our own in-house line of skin care products, Revoderm. I run the cosmetic treatment side of the business and my partner Dr. Ken Alanen runs the medical practice. We work together closely to deliver the best results for our patients.
Clover: How did you decide to start a dermatology clinic?
Juhasz: I was born and raised as a Hungarian citizen in Transylvania, which is part of Romania, and I immigrated to Canada more than 20 years ago. In Romania, I had been an ER nurse and when I came to Canada, I had to learn a new language and start over. I had a chance to work in a cosmetology clinic and it felt like the perfect place to use my nursing background and to work closely with patients, which is one of my favorite parts of my job.
Clover: Can you explain how you and your partner work together?
Juhasz: We work really well together and our respective skills help our patients get the best possible care. The beauty of our business is that any time I need a second opinion, Dr. Alanen can just walk over to take a look at the patient’s concern. He takes care of skin cancers and other dermatological conditions that need medical attention. He’ll just pop in and tell me, “Yes, you can laser that spot” or “No, don’t touch that mole. I have a concern about it and we’ll take a biopsy from it instead of lasering that spot. Let’s move the patient back to the medical side to do a biopsy.”
It works in reverse as well. Let’s say you have brown spots from sun damage and you start with an appointment with Dr. Alanen. If it turns out that the spots aren’t cancerous, but you still want to improve their appearance, then those clients end up having treatments with me at the clinic. I’ll show you the different non-surgical treatments we use that can eliminate the spots.
It’s a great benefit for our patients to have both cosmetic and medical treatments available under the same roof.
Clover: Do you see a large variety of patients in your practice?
Juhasz: Absolutely! We see everyone from 13-year-old teenagers with acne all the way up to 90-year-old farmers with skin cancer and sun-damaged skin.
Clover: How did you get started with Clover?
Juhasz: We recently switched to Clover about a year ago. I learned about Clover from one of my patients, whose son was working for the company. Once I met with the Clover representative, I really liked how sleek the Station looked. In the cosmetic industry, looks are very important and everything has to match in my waiting room.
I also love the fact that you can email patients before their appointments, as well as send them invoices. Clover gives me more opportunities than what I had with my previous provider.
Clover: Let’s talk about the pandemic. How did your business change and adapt?
Juhasz: We were very fortunate because we’ve been offering telemedicine services for more than 10 years and we offer the only telemedicine acne treatments in Canada, Acne.ca and now we introduced the same platform to our Revoderm.com skin care website. Luckily, dermatology is a very visual field. If you send us a photo of your rash or a mole or any cosmetic concern it’s very easy for Dr. Alanen to say “Yes, this needs to be removed” or that the mole is benign or simply advise a healthy skin care regimen.
Dr. Alanen began telemedicine as a service between doctors about 10 years ago, so he could provide second opinions for primary care and family doctors, but now we’ve expanded so that we deal directly with patients through our portal as well. We also created Acne.ca, which is very unique. It’s the only telemedicine site for acne in Canada.
Clover: That sounds so interesting! Can you tell us more about Acne.ca?
Juhasz: It’s a great opportunity for anyone struggling with acne. You could be in Halifax or you could be in Montreal. We have a medically secure server connected to all of the Canadian pharmacies. All a patient has to do is to submit photos of your acne and then we let you know what kind of skin care products will work synergistically with your prescriptions that He might prescribe. You tell us your city and your neighbourhood and we send the prescription and skin care recommendation. Then it’s ready for pickup or delivery, check out at Revoderm.com.
Our clinic was closed during March, April, and May of 2020 and we did telemedicine free on Acne.ca and as well as Revoderm.com during all the three months when the clinic was closed due to Covid 19 epidemic.
Clover: Wow! That’s amazing.
Juhasz: Yes, I really wanted to support people and give something back to the community. For so many people, it was really hard times and it still is, especially very hard from the social and mental aspect of it. You had much more time to think about yourself and look in the mirror and watch yourself on video calls. The consultation is normally $55, but we did all the consultations for free during those three months.
Clover: What are some of the biggest changes in your business because of COVID?
Juhasz: Before the pandemic, we had multiple associates and we had a really large and very busy clinic. That massively changed and we went back to the beginning when it was just the two of us as providers and we see fewer patients with the social distancing protocols. It was devastating to have to let staff go, but we had to make that hard decision. Instead of growing the clinic, we had to do exactly the opposite and scale down the business, seeing fewer patients in a safe environment.
We now see fewer patients and we offer fewer procedures. We are still very busy, but now we keep the waiting room only with a few patients to wait between the appointment times, compared to how we used to do in the past.
Clover: Can you talk about how you pivoted to telemedicine and how that worked for your clinic?
Juhasz: Now we do a lot more telemedicine, which I really believe is going to be the future. A lot of patients still don’t feel comfortable coming in person, especially if they have an autoimmune disease or if they live with high-risk family members. People also realized that telemedicine was much more convenient. They didn’t have to drive to the clinic, they didn’t have to pay for parking, and they could do the entire appointment from their home.
Clover: Do you have any final thoughts for other small business owners?
Juhasz: I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that you just have to stay positive. I try to support small and local businesses, as well as helping others in our community. We’re all going through this together. I believe the sun will shine again soon with the availability of vaccines. I really hope that patients will feel safe to travel soon and get back to normal life and be social again.