Consulting from the Patient's Point of View

Posted By Mike Meyer, Wednesday, September 25, 2019


By Terri Ross, Terri Ross Consulting

The first consultation with a prospective patient is undoubtedly the most important. Patients will form most of their opinions regarding your office during their first visit. From the aesthetic quality of the waiting area to the expertise and relatability of your front office staff and the provider, it is critical that every element of the patients' consultation experience is impeccable. Much of their experience will be directly related to how well your front office staff listens, engages and responds. (To read more about how to successfully train your front office staff, read my article on the LAER model.) Equally as important is how you, as the medical expert and professional, are able to connect with the patient. Here are the elements of the patient consultation and the key points you will need to consider to successfully consult from the patient's point of view.

Perfect the First Impression

The aesthetic quality of your office—the d√©cor, ambience and overall tone—will make a significant impression on prospective patients. When they first enter the front door of your office, you want them to feel at ease. Your front office staff should acknowledge them immediately using their names, offer them refreshments and give an introduction to the office. They also should provide a pamphlet of relevant literature: the services, equipment and individualized plans available in your medical aesthetic office. This way, the prospective patients will be more informed and prepared for the consultation appointment. Further, they likely will form additional questions based on this information, which will incite conversation and give you an opportunity to connect with them during the consultation appointment.


Making a connection with the patient is critical. Research has shown that making a genuine connection matters more than any other factor, including expertise and pricing. (Read this article from the NY times about the patient-doctor relationship and how this shapes medical care.) Establishing a connection begins with your front office staff. They should strive to connect with patients even before the formal consultation begins. By making conversation and finding common ground—similar interests or having kids that are close in age, for example—the front office staff members begin forming that personal connection.

During the formal consultation, it is important that the medical expert continues making that connection. This can be done by first listening to the patient: their needs, desires, reservations and questions. (This will be discussed further in the next section.) Make sure you devote enough time for the first consultation, but don't overdo it—evidence has shown that if you spend too long with patients, they may assume you aren't busy enough, and this can reflect negatively on their overall impression. The takeaway here is that you only have a defined amount of time to make a genuine, lasting connection with a patient. This often is what the patient will remember most when they leave your office.


While your natural inclination may be to provide prospective patients with as much information as possible during their first appointment, it is critical to listen first. Ask questions that will allow you to really get to know the patient: why they seek treatment, what types of treatment they're interested in, etc. This begins with their interactions with the front office staff and continues during the consultation. The consultation should be a two-way conversation. This will help the patient feel more at ease, and they will feel like they are receiving personalized care. The patient's input should guide your treatment plan: the services, technology and timeline. The goal is not to throw every treatment option at them, but rather to develop and fully taper an individualized treatment plan.

Relay Your Expertise

Every member of your staff—from the front office to the nurses—should be well versed in the treatments, technology and services your office provides. While your front office staff members may not know the science behind the technology, they should be able to relay key information about your services, how they compare to your competitor's, etc. A patient wants to feel like they are in the hands of the experts. When you meet with prospective patients, explain the services to them with enough detail that they feel confident in you as the expert. Be careful to not oversell them or over-explain the technology. Relate the technology to their personalized treatment plan and explain how it will benefit them specifically. This goes back to making a genuine connection. If patients feel a connection with you and feel confident in your expertise, it is likely that they will choose your medical aesthetic office.

Follow Through

At the end of the consultation, a prospective patient may want to consider his or her options before fully committing to your office. If you have successfully consulted from the patient's point of view, it is likely that he or she will feel confident moving forward and will follow through with a second appointment. After the initial consultation, move forward by developing an individualized, comprehensive treatment plan based on that first appointment. Make sure the plan is professional, clean and personalized. Meet with him or her in person to discuss all of the options, financing, timeline, etc., or send it via email and discuss it by phone. This will get the conversation rolling and encourage him or her to make a final commitment to your office.

It is essential to consult from the patient's point of view. First impressions are critical. Make a genuine connection and carefully tailor your expertise to meet the patient's needs and desires.

Click here to complete Terri's 10-point checklist.

Terri Ross brings more than 20 years of sales and management experience to the field, having worked with leading-edge medical device companies such as Zeltiq, Medicis, EMD Serono, Merck Schering Plough and Indigo Medical, a surgical division of Johnson.

Ross' vast knowledge and experience as a sales director managing upwards of $20M in revenue and successful teams has allowed her to become a renowned plastic surgery management consultant helping aesthetic practices thrive.

To optimize revenues and business performance, Ross' practice management consulting services help physicians evaluate practice processes including, but not limited to, overall-operating efficiencies, staff skill assessment, customer service and operating efficiency strategies. The goal is to develop a comprehensive plan of action to improve productivity, quality, efficiency and return on investment.

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