07 Jan The Cosmetic Doctor’s Role in Setting Realistic Patient Expectations
Enhancing patient satisfaction rates starts with ensuring they know exactly what to expect.
We live in a visual world where we are bombarded by marketing campaigns and celebrity social media posts on a daily basis. It’s not hard to see why it’s so easy for people to get caught up in visions of what a perfect face and body should look like – even though the images we see online are hardly an accurate reflection of what people really look like.
Unfortunately, there are still countless people who believe that cosmetic medical procedures are able to replicate the features of their favourite personalities and celebrities.
The Importance of Realistic Patient Expectations
Helping patients set realistic expectations is an important part of a cosmetic doctor’s role and it all starts with making patient education a top priority.
Consultations can be one of the most underrated stages in the cosmetic treatment process. And yet it is the most important process before considering any procedure. Why? Becuase it gives your cosmetic doctors the chance to take youthrough the specific ins and outs of the treatments that may benefit you while balancing patient safety by including explanations of any potential risks.
There’s no illusion that it takes additional time to explain exactly what results a particular treatment is capable of producing but when a patient is aware of what’s possible, it instantly increases patient satisfaction rates and brings us a step closer to changing how cosmetic medicine is viewed in society.
How cosmetic treatments are advertised also plays a role in how these aesthetic solutions are perceived. By placing a bigger emphasis on subtle and natural results, patients can start developing realistic expectations long before their initial consultation.
Addressing Unrealistic Patient Expectations
Many doctors find that some patients are simply unwilling to listen to the limitations of a procedure and insist that they will be able to achieve their desired result.
Remember the three ‘A’s when it comes to patient expectations:
Assess Ask the patient what they want/hope to achieve. It is your responsibility to check that these expectations are reasonable.
Adjust Where unrealistic expectations arise, you will want to re-position the patient’s objectives.
Assure It is essential for you to be assured that your patient has firmly understood that the expectations you have provided are different to what was originally in the mind of the patient. Some patients will continue to hold unrealistic expectations, in which case, now return to ‘Assess’. Check their understanding has been ‘adjusted’. If you cannot be assured this has occurred, it might be wise to decline treatment.
Also, if an alternative approach that you cannot provide, will be better, refer.
There are a number of reasons why patients may see things slightly differently.
- An influx of information. There are a number of websites that a patient may have visited that contained inaccurate information or pertained to patients in a different country. They may have also received advice from family or friends whose scenarios were completely different.
- It wasn’t the genuine product. There are occasions where unscrupulous operators provide cheap alternative devices that either don’t work, or are hazardous. Reputable and long-standing providers want you to have the best outcome with the best and genuine products.
- Too little information. If a patient has too little information on a particular procedure, it can also sway their expectations, which is another reason why patient education is so important.
- Anxiety and time constraints. If a patient is pressed for time or simply anxious about a treatment, it could interfere with them fully understanding what can be achieved and by when.
- Contradictory advice. If a patient has consulted with an inexperienced or underqualified doctor who isn’t committed full-time to a comprehensive range of cosmetic procedures, it can affect their views on the treatment they’re interested in.
When it comes to handling unrealistic patient expectations, there are a few things that can be done:
- Change your approach to communication. Every patient will have a different level of understanding so you may need to learn how to alter your approach to communication accordingly.
- Disclose your experience and qualifications. It’s always a good thing when a patient asks questions during a consultation but if your motives and treatments are being questioned, be ready to provide more details on your experience and qualifications to put the patient’s mind at ease.
- Offer information in more than one way. Sometimes it helps if you’re providing consistent information across multiple platforms and not just during your consultations. Use as many mediums and platforms as possible to educate patients. From brochures in your waiting room to informative social media posts, there are ways to start building trust before you even meet a patient.
- Make it a two-way discussion. Your patients need to trust you and one way to do that is to open up the lines of communication and create an environment where they feel comfortable bringing up their questions and concerns about a treatment. Your patients should feel like you are talking with them and not to them.
It should be said that there will always be situations where patients just won’t listen to reason and will choose to seek treatment elsewhere. By sticking to your values and taking a trustworthy approach to patient care and safety, you can do your part in changing how patients view cosmetic medicine.