Doctors Predict The Longterm Effects of the Outbreak on Patient Behavior

Doctors Predict The Longterm Effects of the Outbreak on Patient Behavior

808 446 The RealSelf Team

As states begin unveiling their roadmaps for loosening physical distancing orders, more surgeons are contemplating how they will approach eventually reopening their physical locations and ramping back up.

We recently asked aesthetic doctors what they predict the more lasting changes will be from the pandemic: how will it affect consumer attitudes and expectations in the longer term? Here’s what they told us.

More Time to Research Could Make for More Enlightened Consumers

Dr. Vu Ho thinks the moratorium on procedures will facilitate a period of enlightenment, and that this will translate into higher consumer expectations that benefit more skilled surgeons.

“Patients have taken it upon themselves to become more knowledgeable and informed consumers who will expect a higher level of service and quality from our industry providers,” he said.

What to do about it. You’ll want to make it easier for patients to identify you as a skilled surgeon. Use this time to take a second look at your online presence and make sure your expertise is easy to ascertain for consumers. For example, is it clear what your top procedures are, and have you maximized reviews and before-and-after photos in those areas?

Related: The 10 Most Costly Before-And-After Photo Mistakes

If you haven’t already, talk to your advisor about what steps you’ll need to take to get a RealSelf Verified badge. It’s a signal to consumers that you meet a set of high standards, and consumers filter for RealSelf Verified doctors 7x more than they filter for experience when searching for doctors on RealSelf.

They’ll Have Heightened Safety Expectations

A virus on the loose has heightened everyone’s awareness of safe personal habits, and it’s contributed to their more careful appraisal of the safety of environments they’re entering. This will be especially true for medical environments, predicts Dr. William Portuese.

“Patients are going to be looking for a safe and private facility outside of a hospital setting to undergo elective cosmetic surgery,” Dr. Portuese told us. “There will be ongoing patient concerns regarding trusting [that] their healthcare providers are going to take safe care of them through this challenging time after coronavirus.”

What to do about it. Make sure the enhanced safety measures you’re instituting in your office are clear, comprehensive and easy to access for consumers who are considering booking with you.

You can opt in here to add a special banner to your RealSelf profile that spells out your COVID-19 procedures—and change it on the fly as your response evolves along with the situation. Here’s what it looks like:

Demand for More Buttoned-up Virtual Consults Could Increase

Dr. Ellen Janetzke predicts that having more experience with virtual consultations during the crisis will also increase consumers’ expectations from their virtual experiences with practices in the long run: “I think they will expect the same great experience from virtual consults as they would in the office,” she said.

What to do about it. Get educated, get started, then iterate.

Don’t overthink virtual consultations so much that you stall on getting started. Instead, get out there, get some consults under your belt, and tweak your process so that it gets continuously closer to one that is as true to your style as your in-office experience.

We can help with the “get educated” part: our RealSelf University learning module has webinars, articles, tips from virtual consult pros, and even real life virtual consultations that you can watch.

Newly Enabled By Virtual Consults, Consumers Might Start Considering More Doctors

Dr. George Marosan foresees consumers reinvesting the time they save on getting to and from in-person consults into evaluating more doctors. “Virtual consultations might stay and possibly replace the initial in-office consultation,” said Dr. Marosan “This allows prospective patients to ‘interview’ multiple surgeons from the comfort of their homes, before choosing and committing to an in-person consultation.”

This could provide an opportunity for upstarts to break through and require incumbents to stay on their toes. But if this prediction comes to pass, virtual consults could also be the infrastructure that enables growth for medical aesthetics overall. This phenomenon is known as “induced demand:” in the same way that adding lanes to a highway attracts more traffic, adding more opportunities for consumers to engage could lift all boats when consumer confidence and spending power rebounds.

What to do about it. Stay current. When it comes to content like reviews and before-and-after photos, our data shows a direct correlation between more content and more inquiries from doctors’ RealSelf profiles.

Related: Learn How to Get More Reviews on RealSelf University

For newer doctors that want a shot at competing, forming a habit of continuously asking for reviews and uploading before-and-after photos is critical for increasing the volume of content showcasing your work in your top procedures over time.

Established doctors should remember that recency also matters. Hundreds of reviews in your top procedure is great, but if those reviews have trailed off in recent months, consumers will perceive your entire body of reviews as less relevant.

How are you responding?

We’re in this together. Tell us how your practice is adapting in the wake of COVID-19 so that we can share best practices with everyone.