Should You Incorporate Virtual Doctor Consultations into Your Practice?
- Posted on: Sep 1 2017
Innovations in the plastic surgery industry go far beyond the development of new procedures and techniques. With the advent of high quality digital video streaming, plastic surgery clinics all over the world are trying out new ways to connect with patients. One of the biggest trends in recent years has been the virtual consultation.
In a virtual consultation, you sit down with a patient, just like you would in a regular consultation. The difference is that you aren’t in the same room. Through the use of streaming video, patients from around the country, or even the world, can connect with you for a consultation about their desired cosmetic procedures. For many patients, this gives them tremendous freedom, allowing them to talk to surgeons who specialize in procedures that aren’t available in their local area. For surgeons, this opens up an entirely new potential client base. So, what are the upsides and the drawbacks to virtual consultations, and should you offer them at your plastic surgery practice?
You Can Greatly Extend Your Reach
Generally, the vast majority of your patients are going to be from your local area. If you live in a major urban center, this can mean you have access to millions of prospective clients. If you live in a more rural area, then your patient base will be somewhat smaller. Opening your plastic surgery clinic up to virtual consultations can greatly extend your reach, allowing you to connect with patients from different cities, states, provinces, or even countries.
You Can Bring in Additional Income
Virtual consultations can often be performed for a fee, giving your practice an additional form of revenue. Many potential patients will happily pay for the convenience of being able to talk to a qualified, professional, ISAPS plastic surgeon from the comfort of their own home. When you consider the potential costs of travel and accommodation that remote patients would have to spend in order to get an in-person consultation, a reasonable fee can seem like one heck of a deal!
Can Be Great for Less Invasive Cosmetic Procedures
Sometimes, patients are just looking for information rather than concrete recommendations about surgical procedures. They want to hear about Botox, or dermal fillers, or endoscopic brow lifts, straight from an actual plastic surgeon instead of a website. For those people, a virtual consultation can be a godsend.
The Consultation Will be Limited
On the other hand, if you are contacted by a patient who is looking for a package of major plastic surgery procedures, it might be wise to urge them to schedule an in-person consultation. There is only so much information that you can get from a virtual consultation, as it is solely a visual inspection. For major plastic surgery procedures, you might wish to actually be able to put your hands on the patient prior to recommending if they qualify for a procedure.
Can Be Difficult to Get a Feel for the Patient
The surgeon/patient connection is difficult to put into words. Sometimes, a patient will walk into your clinic and set off alarm bells in your head. A virtual consultation is a much less personal method of meeting a patient, and your instincts might not be as sharp online as they would be if the prospective patient were in the same room as you.
Would You Be Comfortable Doing It?
This is the really the bottom line. Some plastic surgeons are huge fans of virtual consultations, incorporating a few of them into their daily schedule. Others feel that they need to be able to talk to a patient live and in-person before they can recommend surgical or cosmetic procedures. There is really nothing wrong with either of these options, what matters is that you are comfortable as a surgeon and as a person. If the idea of virtual consultations intrigues you, you could offer a few for free to some prospective patients to give it a try. If you feel these work out well for you, then you can move to make it an established part of your practice. If not, then now you know that virtual consultations are not for you or your plastic surgery
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