Plastic Surgery Advisor

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A Successful Surgeon Consultation

Your consultation with patients is one of the most important aspects of your success so you need to get good at connecting, building rapport, and setting realistic expectations.  A successful surgeon consultation is no easy feat. You are dealing with emotions, past experiences and beliefs.

How many times have you thought a consult was a no-brainer and they left your office never to be heard from again?

Or you thought the patient was a little off, but you didn’t think much of it and now they have become a nightmare patient you regret saying yes to?

So much emotion goes into the decision-making process for you AND the prospective patient who is not used to making such a big, emotional decision that affects their body, mind and life. 

So to help you increase your conversion rate, I mapped out the following 10 elements to use to carry out a successful consultation from the patient’s perspective that will help you get to a yes…..

Top Tips for a Successful Surgeon Consultation

Step 1:  Introduction

Knock on the door gently, greet the patient by name, introduce yourself while looking her in the eye and shake hands or elbow bump.

Step 2: Build Rapport

Commonalities build trust with the patient. Spend a couple of minutes learning more about the patient as a person. Comment on her occupation, the weather or the person who referred her. Keep it light. 

Step 3:  Ask Better Questions

Become patient-centric and listen to get better answers so you know where you stand and what the patient is thinking. 

A study showed that, on average, physicians interrupt a patient within 18 seconds! So, ask a question and then cover your mouth so the patient has a chance to tell you what’s on their mind.

successful surgeon consultation tips

Step 4:  Uncover the Problem

Even though it’s noted on the patient in-take form, ask an open-ended question such as “What brings you in to see me today?”  Then actively listen to her response by nodding and writing notes. This gives the patient a chance to elaborate.

Step 5:  Attach Emotions to the Problem and Solution

Get the patient emotionally involved so she “feels” the pain and the pleasure of enhancement. Questions such as, “How long has this bothered you?” and “How do you envision this improving your life?” works well.

Step 6:  Know Where You Stand

Determine where they are in the process so you can determine the approach to take. For example: “Have you spoken with anyone else?”  and if so, “What can I tell you that you don’t already know?”  They will tell you what went right or wrong with other consults, and this will help you determine how much time and effort to spend with this prospective patient. 

Step 7:  Educate Your Patient

It’s now time for you to respond with your recommendation. Present your solutions in a way that the patient can most easily understand. Patients want to see, hear about, touch and feel results. You can use an iPad with photos they can hold, implants they can touch, drawings they can visualize with, and staff members they can talk to.

tips for a successful surgeon consultation

Step 8:  Manage Expectations

The golden rule is to under-promise and over-deliver. Use metaphors, analogies and anecdotal experiences of other patients to help set expectations. 

For example, while showing before and after photos of tummy tucks, you can say, “There is always a tradeoff. If you want a flatter tummy, there will be a scar; however, as you can see from my other patients’ photos, it fades nicely, and my patients are ecstatic about getting their pre-baby body back.”

Step 9:  Reassure the Patient

The patient wants to be reassured that you’re the right surgeon for them. Let them know you’re confident and they will get a good result. A golden statement for a patient to hear is, “Sue, you’re the perfect candidate for this procedure.”

Step 10: Close the deal for a Successful Surgeon Consultation

Prepare a closing statement assuming they’ll say yes. For example, “Sara, it was great to meet you, and Karen will fill you in on surgical dates available. I look forward to seeing you again soon.” 

Lastly, my best advice to convert more consultations is to be yourself. The professional but caring side of you that looks after the best interests of the patient. Patients will feel your concern for them and respond with a yes….more often.

But this is still a numbers game and not every single prospective patient is going to bond with you.  You will not be for everybody, nor do you want to work with everybody; however, by keeping the above steps in mind, your consult conversion rate will increase

Fix Your Follow Up and Do More Cosmetic Surgery

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Catherine Maley

Catherine is a business/marketing consultant to plastic surgeons. She speaks at medical conferences all over the world on practice building, marketing and the business side of plastic surgery. Get a Free Copy of her popular book, Your Aesthetic Practice: What Your Patients Are Saying View Author Profile.

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