We recently surveyed consumers to understand how they planned to approach their aesthetic doctor search in the wake of COVID-19. Nearly 60 percent of them told us they were interested in meeting with doctors and their staff online.
That stat was telling, but still just a snapshot of how consumers planned to proceed based on what they knew at the time. It was clear that consumers’ intentions and behaviors would continue to shift as other variables changed, including:
- The growing number of doctors who are offering virtual consultations,
- More promotion of the availability of virtual consultations on RealSelf, and
- Greater ease in finding doctors who offer them.
(You can learn more about the changes we’ve made to the RealSelf experience here.)
With these new virtual consultation-focused capabilities in place, we’re now able to understand how consumers are actually behaving when it comes to virtual consults. Here’s a readout of what we’ve seen so far.
Consumers Are Intentionally Seeking Virtual Consultations, And At a Growing Rate
One of the updates we made to the RealSelf experience was to let consumers filter for doctors who offer virtual consultations from our “Find a Doctor” page and other search environments on RealSelf.
The filter has been available for two weeks so far, and the proportion of people who filtered for “Virtual consultations” increased more than 6x week over week. What’s more, of the consumers who requested a consultation from doctors who offer virtual consults, around 80% are indicating they’re specifically interested in meeting with that doctor online.
On its face, this demonstrates a strong (if early) signal that consumers’ interest in limiting their search to doctors who are available to meet online is trending up.
Doctors Who Indicate They Offer Virtual Consultations Are Getting 3x the Contacts
Driven in part by the sizable proportion of people searching exclusively for doctors who offer virtual consultations, we’re seeing doctors who offer virtual consults get a growing share of overall contacts from RealSelf.
As of last Friday, more than half of all contacts have been going to doctors whose profiles make it clear they’re available for virtual consultations, and that proportion has been trending upward since doctors have been able to make this distinction on their profiles.
And on a per-doctor basis, those who indicate they’re offering virtual consults are getting 3x more contacts per week than those who do not.
They’re Also Getting More Appointments
Based on the inquiries that are managed through our Connect team, doctors who indicate they’re taking virtual consultations are scheduling 46 percent more appointments than those who do not. This indicates that showcasing virtual appointments is not only driving interest, it’s also correlated with people taking a major step forward in their doctor search by actually booking an online appointment.
What this boils down to is that more consumers are intentionally seeking virtual consultations, and doctors who make it clear they offer them are winning a significant and growing share of contacts and appointments from those consumers. If you haven’t already, fill out this form to display your virtual consult availability on RealSelf. You should also highlight the fact that you’re offering virtual appointments on your website and social media.
To learn more about how to execute virtual consultations, visit our RealSelf University module for resources, including an overview webinar, podcasts, and virtual consultation video demonstrations with doctors who have already honed their techniques.
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.