As consumers ourselves, we can appreciate the value of a positive, thoughtful brand experience. We are more likely to be loyal, re-occurring clients of the restaurants, boutiques, fitness studios and even physician offices that prioritize our individual needs. While we, as practitioners or office support staff, focus on rewards, events and targeted marketing initiatives, we often overlook one of the most critical opportunities to cultivate our patients — the aesthetic procedure experience. From how our patient is prepped prior to their visit, to the day of procedure care and post-procedure support, each phase represents an opportunity to provide an elevated patient experience for long-term patient loyalty.
With the goal of reducing patient guesswork and potential unease, the priority pre-procedure is to prepare your patient. Few patients, if any, have the expertise to know what activities and skin therapies to discontinue or avoid prior to their upcoming aesthetic treatment. In order to help ensure a successful treatment outcome, it is important to educate patients about their role in helping prime the skin. By empowering your patients with knowledge not only are you ensuring compliance but also creating an environment of comfort and trust.
Depending on the type of scheduled service it is important to have your office reach out to the patient via e-mail a week or so prior to the appointment. Besides reminding your patient of their upcoming visit, use this opportunity to provide precise instructions on how the skin should be cared for, including modifications or temporary discontinuations of certain lifestyle activities, topical therapies and medications, if applicable. It is also helpful to briefly recap what can be expected during and post-procedure, so that again the patient feels prepared.
Providing this key information in a succinct and easily accessible format will not only be immensely helpful to your patients but will also make them feel like your practice is anticipating and looking forward to their upcoming visit.
Personalized care and service continue to remain the hallmarks of a superior, elevated patient experience. For the duration of your patient’s visit, it is vital that they feel like a VIP. Once your patient has settled into the exam room and before the actual procedure, have a medical assistant review the procedure details again, including what to expect during the treatment and in the upcoming days of recovery.
In order to streamline and simplify the post-care plan, have a printed copy of the post-care instructions available for the medical assistant to summarize. These instructions should also reflect the appropriate skincare regimen. In order to make the process as effortless as possible, it is advantageous for both you and the patient to have the products readily available for purchase within the office. After your staff ensures that the patient has no questions on the consent forms, have them take baseline photography so that the skin improvement can be visualized and tracked.
As your patient is checking out, be sure your receptionist has a printed copy of the post-care instructions and recommended skincare products available to give to the patient. Depending on the type of service, schedule the patient for a follow-up visit within the next week. The continuous touch points will validate your superior level of care as the supportive assistance is just as valuable as the procedure success.
The most critical time for patient support and a good patient experience is directly post-procedure as the skin progresses through the stages of rehabilitation and patient’s anxiety may be more pronounced. Proper and coordinated aftercare is not only essential for a successful treatment outcome but also reassures the patient of your practice’s investment into their well-being.
First, have your office e-mail the post-care instructions in case your patient misplaces the printed copy provided. Second, be sure to have someone from your office check-in via phone (Figure 1). From the patient’s perspective, there is no time more vital to hear from your practice than when they are experiencing the procedure side effects, so whether it is 24 to 48 hours post-procedure assign a staff member follow-up. Unless your patient indicates a preference to e-mail communication, have a staff member call the patient directly. The added effort will not go unnoticed. Third, motivate your patient to come in for a follow-up visit. Often if the procedure results were as successful as anticipated, many patients do not prioritize this visit. Stress the importance of the follow-up with reminder e-mails. Not only does it allow you to check on your patient’s progress, but also it facilitates an additional valuable interaction. Use this opportunity to develop your patient relationship by discussing complementary in-office treatments, appropriate at-home care or additional skin concerns. Finally, because most procedures require ongoing maintenance treatments, be sure to have your office contact the patient when they are due for these treatments.
A key component of patient cultivation is creating the right experience. We often underestimate the value of establishing a thoughtful, streamlined environment, but for the patient this translates into ease, comfort and compliance. Aesthetic procedures are a luxury not a necessity. As a result, the level of care should reflect this added value (Figure 2). The last thing your patient should feel is added work, tracking or coordination. By fostering a harmonized, individually focused campaign with many touch points your patient will feel supported and prioritized throughout the duration of their procedure cycle. From a business perspective, this translates into a cultivating a long-term patient.