The COVID-19 pandemic has done more than just threaten our health and upend our normal routines—it has also changed the landscape of how most of us will do business going forward. For example, many business executives are already floating the idea of making their new work-from-home protocols permanent, and Twitter has already stated their employees can now work from home “forever.”
In this evolving landscape, the aesthetics industry, along with so many others, must find creative new ways to serve our patients’ needs. Among our top priorities:
- We must take measures to address patients’ concerns so they feel safe coming into our offices for procedures.
- We must take steps to limit patient exposure as much as possible, including limiting their trips to the office.
- We may need to adopt new, creative financing options in response to prospective patients whose income streams may be in flux.
- We must adapt our marketing and messaging to reassure people that aesthetic procedures remain safe and affordable.
- Most importantly, we must find creative ways to maintain the human connection with our patients during times of forced isolation
Fortunately, modern technology provides us with many tools and virtual platforms we can leverage to minimize risk, provide options, optimize our messaging, and even grow our businesses. Let’s discuss several ways we can utilize these platforms.
The use of “telemedicine” and online appointments has exploded across all concentrations of healthcare in the past few weeks as health professionals seek to help patients limit their trips to the office during the quarantine. CNBC reports that telehealth visits increased by 50 percent during the month of March, and analysts predict the total number of telehealth visits to approach one billion by the end of the year. Even as various markets start reopening, the more we can provide for our patients remotely, the better. While patients must obviously come in for examinations and procedures, aesthetic physicians can utilize platforms like HumazeMD and ExamMed to hold initial consultations and get an idea of their patients’ needs and wants before scheduling further appointments.
Scheduling procedures can pose challenges during this time for many reasons. First, some aesthetic health professionals are limiting their office hours to protect their staff; and second, patients who are still gainfully employed may have limited availability because they want to keep their jobs. As a result, not only may patients have fewer time slots from which to choose—they may not be able to reach anyone by phone.
One solution: Allow patients to schedule themselves in for their next appointment. Many online platforms like Calendly and ScheduleOnce allow you to set your available hours and appointment types so patients can choose a service and reserve time on your calendar without calling in. There are also scheduling apps like AestheticsPro specifically designed for medspa professionals which might be worth investigating. These apps can also automatically send reminders via email and/or text so your patients remember to come in.
Consolidate Trips with Combined Services
Another way to make your patient experience safer is to creatively combine services so they take fewer trips out of the home. For example, if a patient desires more than one procedure, you could schedule a preliminary exam for the second procedure within the same appointment slot as the first. Try to select an appointment platform that gives you the agility to customize combined services—and where appropriate, you might even offer “bundled” appointments with services that make sense together.
Integrate Creative Financing Options
Many health professionals are already using creative third-party financing companies like to help patients cover costs not covered by insurance. In a time when fewer people may have discretionary income, aesthetic professionals would do well to allow clients to avail themselves of these options, and those who are even more creative might explore in-house flexible financing for their patients. Again, with limited office hours, the more online self-service options you can provide, the better. Financing platforms nowadays can qualify people in seconds according to pre-set criteria, and patients can set up their financing 24-7 on their own schedule.
Human-Focused Engagement in a Virtual World
One of the potential pitfalls of physical distancing is that we can easily lose the sense of “human connection” that came so easily when patients were simply coming in and out of our offices. Ironically, one of our greatest human fears concerning advancing technology is that the technology itself will isolate us. However, by acting purposefully, we can actually utilize technology to enhance our human engagement with patients and prospective customers. Some ways you can accomplish this goal:
- Rewrite your marketing messages to be more personal and vulnerable, even while using automated services like drip emails to send them out.
- Build up your social media presence with direct customer engagement, helpful information, and personalized stories.
- Utilize video conferencing platforms to do helpful webinars, patient Q&As, etc.
In whatever ways you choose to engage, make it a priority to listen, not just talk. Make it your goal to learn more about your patients’ desires, concerns, and motivators so you can take thoughtful steps to stay connected and reach them meaningfully.
Finally, when navigating the “new normal” in a post-pandemic world, flexibility will be key. In a recent survey of business leaders, 72 percent said increased flexibility and agility would be a primary mover of success. It won’t necessarily be easy, but by thinking creatively and proactively in favor of your patients’ well-being, you’ll make them more comfortable knowing they don’t have to sacrifice their aesthetic procedures for their safety.
Tell me some things your aesthetic medicine practice is doing to navigate these unprecedented times.