Jane Lewis highlights the advantages of curating long-term skin treatment plans for your patients
At the turn of the New Year, many of my patients come to me looking for quick- x skincare solutions to help them start the year renewed and refreshed. In some cases, a little too much indulgence over the festive party season has taken its toll on the complexion; in others, time spent with friends and family has served to highlight how the ageing process has accelerated since the same time last year. However, while quick- x solutions serve a purpose in terms of near-instant gratification and short-term feel-good factor, I like to take this opportunity to work with the patient to develop an ongoing programme that encourages them to think about their skin health as part of a wider lifestyle choice – rather than simply a superficial aesthetic. By building a programme that provides a comprehensive care path to last the year round, I find there are multiple benefits to both the patient and practitioner. The patient experience is greatly improved when we put in place a bespoke treatment plan that ensures that those you treat are fully educated on what to expect at various steps along the path. More often than not, my patients come to me with an end goal in mind and, to some degree, an understanding of how this might be achieved. They may have friends who have recommended a particular treatment, or they may have read about a certain brand in magazines or online. As practitioners, I believe it is our responsibility to conduct a thorough consultation with each patient to understand exactly what we can do for them. By tailoring a treatment plan to their specific needs and setting realistic expectations in terms of results, the patient will be encouraged to look beyond a ‘quick- x’ solution and will instead be excited by the benefits of a longer-term treatment plan. For example, a patient looking to improve the appearance of sun spots and hyperpigmentation caused by prolonged sun exposure would traditionally get a good result from one high-level fractional laser treatment early in the year. However, I would want to talk them through the option of several lower-level fractional laser treatments at intervals throughout the year, and to supplement this with a radiofrequency treatment to improve skin laxity and the fine lines that are also ageing effects of sun exposure. I find that with this approach, not only does the patient feel fully informed and therefore more excited about their plan, they will also be more receptive to any additional solutions I recommend for enhanced results. This might include a topical skincare programme, or injectable toxins or fillers. By creating a treatment plan to span the next 12 months, you can also offer a package at the best possible value to incentivise a block booking and reward loyalty. Developing an ongoing treatment plan has the primary benefit that, in mapping out a year’s worth of treatments, you are guaranteeing patient loyalty through regular repeat custom. It also provides a vehicle to speak to the patient often throughout their journey, ensuring they are happy with their progress, answering any questions or concerns and offering additional aftercare advice. This continuum of care is an easily-executed, added-value service that gives the patient confidence in your expertise and professional recommendations. It also presents opportunities to identify relevant supplementary procedures outside of the original treatment plan to enhance the patient’s results. It might be that a patient who we were originally treating for acne with a course of broadband light and vacuum treatments such as Isolaz might later in the year benefit from a course of laser treatment such as Clear + Brilliant to refine the complexion and erase areas of pigmentation caused by scarring.
Of course, over a period of time the patient’s goals and desired outcome are likely to shift; by listening to them and working collaboratively on their treatment plan, you will be able to advise on both proactive and reactive solutions to ensure they get the best possible result. It might be that the patient has a special event coming up, such as a wedding or anniversary, and they would like a little boost to help them feel extra special. I find this way of working helps me to forge great relationships with my patients, many of whom have been coming to us since we first opened.
Generally, patients who have been made to feel completely at ease and con dent throughout their treatment journey are often very willing to have their photograph taken and participate as a case study, which is an extremely powerful marketing tool. With a comprehensive on-going skin health programme, the patient will value the time and care taken to develop a bespoke treatment plan that is unique to their needs, and will consequently feel more con dent in both your original recommendations and any additional supplementary treatments you might suggest down the line. They will also appreciate the financial benefits you may offer in exchange for their ongoing business. As a practitioner, you will enjoy an open dialogue with your patient that enables you to monitor their progress for best possible results. You will understand their goals and manage expectations, and identify opportunities to recommend additional treatments that will enhance their results and boost your revenue. A satisfied patient will not only remain loyal for years to come, they will also talk openly about their positive experience to friends and associates. And, after all, word of mouth is the single most powerful form of marketing for small businesses. Providing your patients with the opportunity to work with you to look forward and create a long-term treatment plan suited to their needs ensures a steady and loyal patient base. This in turn increases revenue and secures the ongoing success of your practice.