Managing Patient Expectations: Visualizers Bring Out the Beauty of Effective Communications

It’s without question that social media technology has changed the world. From expanding our lexicon with words like “selfie” to creating a time capsule of every Instagramable moment, little we do, see or hear is free from social influence.

Even the time-honored relationship between a physician and patient is up to social scrutiny.

Consumers are savvier than ever before and more comfortable with exploring the range of aesthetic medicine options available to them. What’s also new is that thanks to the proliferation of social media tools like photo enhancement apps, consumers don’t have to wait until a consultation with a physician to see the results of a procedure or treatment. They can tap and swipe their way to a flatter stomach, thinner nose and smoother skin.

In fact, the commercial availability of these kinds of online tech tools is creating a generation of well-informed patients with greater demands on and expectations of aesthetic medicine.

How can you keep up with advancing technology while managing patient expectations? It could be as simple as giving them what they want: the opportunity to “try before they buy” with visualizers.

 

Show Patients You Understand Their Needs

The benefits of social and visualizer technologies are undeniable, but what about the risks when it comes to patient care? According to manufacturers and plastic surgery practices that have been early adopters of aesthetic visualizer technology, the downside is little to none.

Leading manufacturers, including Allergan, Merz North America and Neograft, are responding to consumers’ expectations by adding aesthetic visualizer technologies to their branding and patient education efforts. These manufacturers, as well as plastic surgeons and other providers of cosmetic enhancement procedures, are tapping into the power of imagination to communicate the value and benefits of their services and expertise.

These brands and professionals chose to adopt visualizer technologies after conducting market research and consumer testing. While they forged a path, you can benefit from their knowledge.

Consumers are adopting visualizers on their own. Allergan defines aesthetic visualization as an engagement marketing trend, noting that the term “visualizer” is among the most popular online search term consumers use. In one study, 40 percent of the more than 60,000 unique users researching breast augmentation on Allergan’s site went on to study before-and-after photos of real-life patients.

Patients expect providers to use visualizers in their practices. What began as a search term leads to a preference to select plastic surgeons and medical spas that employ aesthetic visualization technology. In fact, by giving consumers what they expect and want, physicians have learned that visualizers improve practice key performance indicators.

Early adopters of aesthetic visualization technologies are seeing:

  • Sharp increases in patient leads
  • Improved abilities to convert appointments into treatments
  • Reduced consultation-to-treatment decision timeline

In one recent study, practices offering the New Look Now Aesthetic Visualizer Platform realized a 58 percent consult-to-treatment conversation rate – far exceeding the industry average of 35 percent – and enjoyed an increased lead volume that resulted in 36 percent more new patients.

 

Help Patients’ Understand Visualizer Results

Early adopters of visualizers report the best results when incorporating the technology as part of patient education. Here are three ways to offer an aesthetic visualizer platform without skewing patients’ expectations toward the unrealistic or unachievable.

Know how and when to use the technology. Visualizers fit into the evolving role of marketing as a way of creating experiences for consumers. Frame expectations first; ask your patients to recognize the technology as a means of satisfying their curiosity about potential treatment options rather than as a clinical tool. You can underscore this point by choosing a visualizer platform that displays a prominent disclaimer and sharing it with your patient.

Set the stage for clearer communication and two-way dialogue. Nothing can replace the relationship you build with your patients, but simulators can help you understand one another better. Consumers may have difficulty articulating what they want and usually benefit from seeing potential results to help them describe their expectations.

Discuss options available. A key component of patient education is defining the pros and cons of every procedure or treatment possible to inform patients of their choices and further manage their expectations. For example, a patient may request a consultation for liposuction to remove stubborn belly fat. But after seeing the results from a visualizer, the patient may be shocked to realize that the dreamed-of flat stomach isn’t achievable only with liposuction. This realization is a valuable opportunity for you to discuss the merits of a tummy tuck plus liposuction to realize the desired effect.

Visualization technology is giving consumers greater confidence in evaluating aesthetic procedures and deciding to move forward with treatments – a beautiful way of managing their expectations.

 

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About the Author

Devon Niccole, CEO and vice president of sales and marketing at New Look Now LLC, has over 12 years of practice management and marketing experience working intimately with plastic surgeons, dermatologists, cosmetic dentists, medspas and weight loss clinics. Niccole’s experience in patient acquisition, patient retention and practice management have earned him a formidable reputation within the industry and has helped garner a magnitude of powerful industry relationships. Learn more at newlooknow.com.