How Doctors Are Prepping Patients for Virtual Consults

How Doctors Are Prepping Patients for Virtual Consults

921 509 The RealSelf Team


Virtual meetings have long been a part of doing business for many industries, and there have been some early adopters in the aesthetics world.

For many others in the aesthetics community, virtual patient consults are a new thing—but it’s looking like they will be here to say. When asked for his take on the future of virtual consults, Dr. Guarav Bharti said, “This crisis that’s going on is going to change healthcare forever, and it’s going to change modern day aesthetics.”

We’ve heard from several aesthetic doctors about the steps they are taking to prepare their practice and patients for virtual consults. Here is what some of them had to say.

Getting the Appointment Means Getting to the Point

Dr. Richard Reish said pricing transparency is actually helpful for landing the appointments themselves.

I have no hesitation with price transparency whatsoever. So, when a patient says, “Well, how much does a rhinoplasty cost?” I give them the whole price. Not a range. If they are okay with it, we do the consult. If they’re not: great. They can move on, I can move on. It didn’t waste either one of our times.”

And Dr. Guarav Bharti said making things easy for the patient and acting fast are key to grabbing the appointment.

“The minute it gets complicated is the minute you potentially will lose that lead. So you have to make it as uncomplicated as possible. ‘If you see it, you act on it’ would be my mantra. I think if a lead sits and you don’t act on it within a couple hours, you could potentially lose that lead. So it needs to be acted on fast.”

Be Prescriptive About Prep to Create the Context for a Successful Consult

Dr. William Portuese says the same rigor around getting their health history and acquiring high-quality photos applies, and he also sets expectations about the still-required in-person visit.

“We ask them to fill out the required paperwork regarding their health history and provide us high-quality digital photographs for computer imaging as well…we want to make sure that they’re a candidate for elective cosmetic surgery. Then we let them know it must be backed up with an in-person examination once we are able to open the practice again.

Dr. Jill Hessler is prescriptive about how to take photos and the lighting situation where the patient will be on video so that she has the quality she needs to make the best recommendations virtually.

“We treat virtual consults similar to in-office consults. The difference is I also prefer to have patients send photos in good lighting ahead of time for me to review prior to the consult. If a patient wants to discuss skin discolorations or concerns, it is important I am able to see these in good lighting. I recommend the patient set up their consult discussion so I can see the face adequately. Backlighting can make the face appear dark and lose the ability to see the areas of concern well. – Dr. Jill L Hessler, MD PC

And Dr. Ellen Janetzke goes out of her way to remove a key piece of friction to booking.

“We reassure them that it is not as hard as it seems to do a virtual appointment.”

Plan Ahead to Make Sure Patients Are Comfortable

Dr. Reish says rapport, and making sure patients are comfortable, are key to conducting a successful virtual consultation.

“I think one of the most important things when you’re on the consultation—number one—is to establish a good rapport with the patients. Try to make them feel as comfortable as possible. For tummy tucks and things of that nature, I have the patients keep their breasts covered and show me the abdomen, and that works out pretty well.

For breast reduction patients, I actually don’t ask them to undress. What I do instead is show them some photographs of what I need to get the insurance approval, and I’ll ask them to stand in front of a solid color background, and have a family member or their spouse take their pictures to send me.”

Dr. Reish has floored it on virtual consults—“I’ve literally been doing virtual consultations from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM six days a week,” he told us. With a bit of practice and slight tweaks made to your in-office procedures, they can be a great tool to accommodate more patients and increase your revenue potential when things open up again.


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.