As the world becomes more digital, plastic surgery virtual consultations become more mainstream.
It opens up new opportunities for plastic surgeons to embrace technology and new ways to connect with their prospective cosmetic patients through virtual consulting.
Why Plastic Surgery Virtual Consultations?
If you are getting (or want) more patient leads that stretch farther than your own neighborhood, you will need to set up a process to accommodate them.
For those patients really far from your office, it could be cost and time-prohibitive to visit once for a consultation and then schedule another visit for the surgery, so make it easier for prospective patients to get to you and your expert services virtually.
And, frankly, cosmetic patients (local and out-of-state) are getting more demanding and may not want to spend their time visiting you in person when they would prefer to meet you online first to see if there’s a fit.
Also, let’s remember what the plastic surgery consultation is all about…
Years ago, I interviewed a world-renowned facial plastic surgeon, E. Gaylon McCoullough, MD from Golf Stream, AL since patients fly in from around the world to his 5-star resort practice and this is what he told me:
“I asked the doctors who train with me, what is the objective of the consultation and most of them get it wrong. The main purpose of the consultation is to establish a relationship. Once you’ve done that, you won’t have to worry about the procedures, because the patient is comfortable and confident. They trust you. They know if there’s a problem, you are there to take care of them.”
The virtual consultation is one of those steps to building that relationship and trust.
Technology Limitations of Virtual Consultations
Keep in mind the technical skills of you, your staff, and your patients. Not everybody is up to speed on the latest platforms, apps and technical ways to communicate.
For example, some practices have the patient email them photos and then do a FaceTime call with them; however, that’s got its limitations.
Not everyone uses an iPhone (shocking, I know!) or has the tech-savvy know-how to email their photos. And, the cell phone screen size is limiting.
You can also use Google Hangouts and Skype; however, the patient has to download the app and have an account set up so that’s an extra step and could confuse patients. And, if you make the patient feel stupid, that hurts your relationship before you even start so keep it simple!
Drawbacks of the Virtual Consultation
The biggest drawback to the virtual consultation is the loss of human contact.
Since you cannot look the patient in the eye with a virtual consultation, you cannot build trust and confidence like you can live.
In a virtual consultation, you cannot put your hands on the patient to help you bond with them and touch their particular concerns. You also cannot look them in the eye to determine who they are as a person.
And, cosmetic patients are not only drawn to you for your skill and cool website but also your personal interaction skills.
The patient gets a sense of who you are as a surgeon by gauging how easy you are to communicate with and how genuinely interested and caring you are to their wants and needs.