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Tailoring Consultations and Practice Procedures

By: Catherine Maley
Posted: November 2, 2010, from the November 2010 issue of
Physician sitting at a computer, explaining something to a patient

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Before you begin the consultation process with a patient, you should begin to build a rapport. Building a bond with a prospective patient so she likes, trusts and feels she can share openly with you is vital so she is open to what you have to say. It’s the most important personality skill an aesthetic physician needs in order to be successful.

You can build rapport by creating or discovering things in common with patients. It can be as simple as talking about who referred a patient to your practice, or by asking more about her profession and family. The point is to show interest in the prospective patient as a person first, patient second. You can get this information from the patient information form, so just take a glance at it before entering the exam room.

Another great rapport-building skill is the art of listening. Patients need to be heard and understood. There is an old saying—before you can be understood, you must work to understand—and that is truly the case here. A physician who listens without interrupting, nods, takes notes and asks clarifying questions wins with patients.

Mirroring is another way to build rapport. This means mimicking your patient’s breathing patterns, posture, tonality and gestures in a discreet way. People feel more comfortable with others they believe are like them, and mirroring will encourage that belief. So, if a patient talks fast, you talk fast. If a patient is meek and quiet, slow things down. Use the same terms and phrases patients use, and be sure to avoid any jargon they won’t understand.

Educate and set expectations

All patients will have different expectations when they come into your practice and consequently, they will use different measures to determine if their needs are being met, their concerns are being addressed and if recommendations are accurately explained.