Take more risks so you never have any regrets, and appreciate the value of prior achievements.
Dr. Lydia L. Klufas grew up in Bridgewater, New Jersey. She attended the University of London as well as Case Western Reserve University and graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in chemistry. In 1990 Dr. Klufas graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. She completed an internship in Internal Medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, and then trained in dermatology at Brown University in Providence, RI. Upon completing her residency in 1994, Dr. Klufas worked with a multispecialty group for two years before opening her own private practice in dermatology in Cumberland, RI in 1996, where she currently practices.
Dr. Klufas is married to Roman A. Klufas, MD, a neuroradiologist with Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and Open MRI of New England, Inc. and Advanced Radiology, Inc. in Rhode Island. They have 3 children.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
It’s my own name – name recognition and reputation are important. Plus, it’s a sole proprietorship.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
As a general dermatology office, we treat a variety of both acute and chronic skin conditions. We focus on medical dermatology, including diagnosis and treatment of skin cancers, precancers, abnormal moles, eczema, acne, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, etc. We recommend full skin exams in an effort to diagnose precancerous and cancerous lesions early and perform biopsies and surgeries as needed.
My staff have been with me 23 years. We have a wonderful and warm relationship which extends to our patients as we strive to provide personal and individualized care for all.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I discuss new ideas with my staff upon returning from medical meetings or reading about new concepts in diagnosis and disease management. I also gain a lot from speaking with other dermatologists about how they manage their practice and patients.
What’s one trend that excites you?
There are many trends in dermatology that are very exciting. Of course, there are the cosmetic and LASER innovations which have gotten a lot of press lately. From a medical dermatology perspective, however, the ability to now treat patients with metastatic melanoma using immunotherapy has made a big difference in their lives.
And for the general population, sunscreens have become so much more cosmetically elegant. Years ago, I used to recommend patients apply a daily moisturizer with sunscreen “rain, shine, sleet or snow” with an SPF of only 15. Any higher SPF moisturizers back then were thick, pasty, and heavy. Now there are many moisturizers with an SPF of 50 or higher that go on easily. Additionally, the industry is working hard to make the “mineral-based” type sunblock, such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, more transparent and cosmetically elegant for daily use. Patients have often complained they look like a “geisha” when applying these physical sun blockers, but the products have been getting better over time.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I try to pay attention to the social lives of my patients, i.e.. what their kids are doing, where they have recently traveled or where they are going. Focusing on small personal details and following up on them in future visits make the medical visits more pleasant and personal. The long-term relationships we have developed with our patients has given us a great deal of satisfaction and joy.
With respect to my staff, as an employer I tell them that “family comes first”. As much as we love and value taking care of our patients, sometimes “life gets in the way”. For example, if one of my staff members has an important family event or school activity with one of their children, or they need to attend to other family issues, we adjust our appointment book accordingly so they do not miss the important things going on in their own lives.
What advice would you give your younger self?
To have more confidence in my abilities, take more risks so you never have any regrets, and appreciate the value of prior achievements. “Better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all.”
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
1. Fluorescent bulbs emit UVA (ultraviolet) radiation, albeit in small amounts. Thus, I always recommend sunscreen to folks even if they spend all day in an office environment.
2. You shouldn’t use the sun as a source of Vitamin D due to harmful cumulative UV radiation. Instead, you should take a daily vitamin D supplement and eat foods rich in Vitamin D. Foods rich in Vitamin D include salmon, egg yolks, oysters, shrimp and other nutritional items fortified with Vitamin D such as cow’s milk, soymilk, orange juice, and cereals.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Try to remember and appreciate that folks may be apprehensive when coming in to see us. Everyone is different. They may be nervous or scared, especially if they are concerned about a changing lesion or skin cancer. Additionally, on a personal note, talk to patients about their families, work, and hobbies as it is important to have a genuine interest in them and their lives. And not only can their skin condition play a significant role in how they live their lives, but a patient’s social life and environment may profoundly influence how they respond to treatment.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
When I first started my private practice 25 years ago, we used to send out thank you notes to patients who referred a new patient to our office. We wanted to show them how grateful we were that they trusted us to provide wonderful care for their family and friends. Over time, “word of mouth” referrals have since allowed our practice to thrive.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Twenty five years ago, when I started in practice, I thought I would focus on the newly expanding world of cosmetic LASER treatments and skin rejuvenation. In fact, I thought I would open a cosmetic LASER center. Thus, I trained in the use of LASERS for several months. It was after this time that I realized it was actually the medical aspect of dermatology which brought me the most joy. Thus, I no longer ventured into the cosmetic arena and focused my attention on general dermatology. I love my patients! We take care of all ages, but I am especially fond of my senior citizens and my veterans. I have enjoyed spending time with them, taking care of them and their families, and learning from them. It has given me a great deal of personal and professional satisfaction to have helped so many patients. I have truly enjoyed the relationships I have developed with my patients over the years.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A way to tell how much prescription medicine will cost before it’s prescribed. Right now, it’s generally a mystery as everyone’s prescription plan is different, with some paying $0, some $40 and some given a price tag of $400 for the same prescription medications once they actually get to the pharmacy to pick it up. This has been quite frustrating for everyone.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
$100 towards $200 Visa Gift Cards for my employees to use on themselves on their birthday.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Modernizing Medicine’s EMA electronic medical records online and App allows me access to my patients’ records whenever I need them. And Sirius’ online program “Doctor Radio” Dermatology series is excellent for both physicians and patients alike.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Doris Day, MD’s book Beyond Beautiful: Using the Power of Your Mind and Aesthetic Breakthroughs to Look Naturally Young and Beautiful. Dr. Day underscores the importance of combining current aesthetic innovations with one’s own caring and positive personality to ultimately bring out one’s inner and outer beauty.
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. Set in 18th Century China, the book depicts the “sisterhood” and strength of women as they share and endure the traditions of foot binding and arranged marriages. The women communicate by writing letters to one another on a hand-held fan using a secret phonetic form of “women’s writing” taught by their aunts.
What is your favorite quote?
“The best thing you can do for your skin at age 40 is to wear sunscreen when you’re 20.”
- Try to remember and appreciate that folks may be apprehensive when coming in to see us.
- Take more risks so you never have any regrets, and appreciate the value of prior achievements.
- I have truly enjoyed the relationships I have developed with my patients over the years.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.