The modern consultation has evolved into a courtship. It used to be that the doctor was interviewing the patient, to decide whether he or she even wanted to treat this patient, but now it’s both. The patient is testing the doctor too, in many ways. Patients compare notes and get most of their information online long before they ever talk to doctors in the flesh. It is not unusual for patients to ask questions of multiple doctors online or via email before they ever book an actual live appointment.

A thorough cosmetic consultation could literally take an hour or longer, which really isn’t financially sound business if it is a busy doctor carrying it out. There are so many more options available today from surgical to non-surgical that you cannot really get through everything in 20-30 minutes. There can be many benefits to spreading the consultation out in a clinic among key staff. Certainly for a surgeon or aesthetic doctor, it can be helpful for more than one person in the clinic to interact with each new patient on a one-on-one basis.

Following the patient journey from consultation to treatment, the next question is where is this patient going? Are you going to see her again? Do you want to see her again? If she a viable candidate for the procedure she is considering? If you don’t want to see her again, then the best time to cut that cord is right there at the initial consultation phase, before there is really a formal doctor-patient relationship established.

If the patient is not yet scheduled for a follow-up consultation, he or she may have additional questions to be answered. Many practitioners can reduce a lot of the consultation time on a virtual consultation platform. This is definitely the future, and especially for bigger procedures. I predict it’s going to be the new norm in the next three to five years. Cloud-based platforms and apps allow practitioners to connect with patients in a meaningful way without coming into the practice as a logical first step. This can be a huge time saver for busy doctors, and an excellent way to pre-screen patients.