Industry • Best Practice
Who Can Own a Medical Spa? The Degrees and Licenses You Need to Get Started
Mar.23,2023By Boulevard Staff
From licensed physicians to nurse practitioners, this guide breaks down exactly who can own a medical spa
Opening any self-care business can be challenging, but medical spas face the most stringent obstacles. Directors need to account for various licenses, qualifications, and requirements that vary by state — and that’s before considering most businesspeople without a medical degree are legally barred from ownership. Yet, with a global market projected to reach over $47 billion by 2030, many investors are wondering: Just who can own a medical spa?
It can be difficult to determine who can open a medical spa, especially when the answer changes from state to state. However, if you’re an aspiring owner, this resource is a great place to double-check your qualifications and see if it’s time to launch your self-care medical business.
Who can own a medical spa?
Generally speaking, only licensed physicians can own medical spas. That’s because, unlike day spas, clients visit Medspas for services that demand higher regulatory standards. In addition, only licensed physicians or physician-owned companies can receive payments for these procedures in most states, limiting the options for business owners.
Of course, there are state-by-state exceptions to this rule. For example, Florida and Alaska do not require medical spas to be owned by medical professionals, but physicians must conduct or observe all mandated procedures. However, non-physicians in Florida cannot receive compensation for medical services, even if they own the business. On the other hand, Alaska lets non-physicians enter profit-sharing agreements with licensed physicians on their team.
One other option for non-physicians to own a medical spa is creating a management service organization (MSO). Someone who doesn’t have a medical license can establish a management service agreement (MSA) with a physician. These partnerships let the MSO host and manage business options — such as payroll, hiring, and accounting — while the physician focuses entirely on providing treatments.
What license do you need to open a medical spa?
Every spa or salon needs licenses for its services — even a Medspa that offers non-medical cosmetic procedures needs employees with cosmetology licenses. When it comes to medical procedures, owners must pay close attention to state regulations to be ready when the first client arrives.
Verifying medical credentials
At this point, you might ask yourself, “What degree do I need to open a medical spa?” In most states, the core requirement for any license is a medical degree (MD) from an accredited school of medicine, but even here, there are exceptions. For example, while many states view dentists and chiropractors as licensed physicians, the actual allowable scope of their practice is limited to a fixed category of treatments.
Here are a few other considerations for how credentials and medical job categories apply to self-care businesses:
Doctors: To qualify as a licensed physician, doctors must have completed their MD and three years of residency.
Nurse practitioners: Can a nurse own a medical spa? While nurses do not have an MD, some states like Minnesota and New York allow certified nurse practitioners and registered nurses to start a medical spa. In these cases, states usually expect nurses to conduct procedures under the observation of physicians.
Physician assistant: A PA cannot own a medical spa or practice independently. Some states let a PA co-own or hold a minority interest alongside a practicing physician.
Gaining HIPAA certification
All medical spas must be HIPAA-compliant to operate in any state. In short, that means the organization prioritizes patient privacy and data security across every department, from sending emails, safeguarding prescription information, and storing reference photographs on a computer system. Failing to follow HIPAA regulations can lead to heavy penalties, with the minimum fine ranging from $100 to $50,000 based on breach severity.
The only way to guarantee HIPAA compliance is to review day-to-day procedures and ensure everything aligns with the following:
The latest version of the HIPAA Privacy Rule and HIPAA Security Rule
The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Act
The Omnibus Final Rule
As you might imagine, this will be a time-consuming process, but that one that matters to businesses, clients, and governments equally. Thankfully, the HIPAA Journal offers a range of organizational checklists that act as a starting point.
Finally, it’s important to remember that opening any business — self-care or not — is a marathon, not a sprint. Take your time to look up state guidelines and seek out legal advice to be completely informed about everything you’ll need. If you’re unsure where to begin, our state-by-state guide to starting a Medspa can provide you with further details. With hard work and a little luck, the answer to “who can own a medical spa” might be you.