Planning Patient Educational Events

By Miss Sherina Balaratnam / 13 Jun 2018

Miss Sherina Balaratnam discusses how to plan and deliver successful in-clinic educational events.

Running an aesthetic clinic brings many challenges to medical practitioners. From practice management and staff training to maintaining high patient satisfaction, through to business development and marketing, the end point is to continuously and successfully grow our practices. Focusing on new patient acquisitions, whilst maintaining a strong existing patient retention rate, is key to achieving this. An integral part of achieving patient retention and acquisition in my clinical practice is by hosting regular educational events. In this article, I will cover the key strategies behind hosting these events, how to maximise each opportunity to benefit your patients and deliver a high return on investment for your time.

The paradox of choice

As American psychologist and author of The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less, Barry Schwartz stated, “Learning to choose is hard. Learning to choose well is harder. And learning to choose well in a world of unlimited possibilities is harder still, perhaps too hard.”1

In aesthetics, this couldn’t be more true. With such a large amount of information facing today’s patients, the decision-making process can be somewhat overwhelming. Patients need to choose the right products, practitioner, practice and suitable price, so are increasingly being faced with the challenge of the ‘too much choice’ scenario.

Schwartz argues that eliminating consumer choices can greatly reduce anxiety for shoppers; autonomy and freedom of choice are critical to our wellbeing, and choice is critical to freedom and autonomy.1

At the very beginning of a new practice, it is easy to focus on continually acquiring new patients. This, however, often overlooks the existing patients within your practice whom you may already have spent a considerable amount of time with. These patients have formed a level of trust in you and your practice, likely undertaken a significant amount of research in the treatments they are receiving and have built a strong faith in what you and your team deliver.

The Pareto principle of marketing identifies that 80% of business is generated by 20% of existing customers.1 So it is no wonder why we need to focus our attention on empowering our existing patients with knowledge, whilst simultaneously acquiring and educating new patients coming into our practices. I have found that educational events are an ideal way to achieve this. Introducing existing patients to new technologies or treatments they may not have been aware of, whilst attracting new patients to the clinic, has been a key method of growing my practice.

Why patient education is important

Medical aesthetics can be a minefield for patients. With an ever increasing number of technologies and treatments, all claiming exceptional results, it is no surprise that patients can present to our clinics confused, with unrealistic expectations of the results they can achieve.

Similar to how aesthetic practitioners need guided training on the treatments we deliver to patients, patients too can benefit from a level of education and support on any treatments they may be considering.

The consultation and assessment enables us to identify key areas of concern and formulate treatment plans for our patients. Following on from this, we can then guide patients toward our selected topics within our educational events, so that they can ask further questions and observe live treatment demonstrations in a comfortable environment in small group sessions.

The types of events

The educational events I hold in my clinic are broadly categorised into:

  • Dedicated new treatment launches: These are generally focused sessions, based on a specific technology or product, for example, lasers for skin rejuvenation
  • Clinic anniversary events: An ideal opportunity to thank your existing patients for their loyalty and support, whilst also educating them about your services
  • Single topic or technology focused: We have previously run patient sessions on topics such as dermal fillers and how they work, the anatomy of the ageing process as well as all about laser technology

These events are an ideal opportunity for existing and prospective patients to meet your clinic team, understand more about your ethos and learn more about the treatments and technologies you offer and how these may benefit them. Having direct access to you and your team in an informal yet professional environment is key as I find that it encourages trust and relationship development. I believe this is important in establishing long-term patients. In this environment, patients gain further knowledge and are provided with access to focused information delivered by a team they trust. A general guide on how we carry out our events are as follows:

  1. Welcome and presentation on the topic
  2. Live treatment demonstration carried out by the key distributor, or a member of the team
  3. Summary of the topic and Q & A session by a team member and the distributor
  4. Opportunity for mini consultations

Your target audience 

Broadly, event attendees could be classified into two distinct categories:

  1. Those who have been having medical aesthetic treatments on multiple occasions and therefore are likely to be more at ease with the clinic environment
  2. Those who may not have set foot in such a clinic previously and consequently could be more apprehensive

It is essential to take our target audience into consideration in order to shape the event accordingly. Existing patients who are comfortable within the environment and team often require a more directional approach to decision-making, based on the close rapport and trust that they have already established with their practitioner. For new patients who have never set foot in a clinic before, this may be an intimidating experience and may require more guidance during an event as this would be considered part of an ‘induction’ process into medical aesthetics. Bearing in mind, they are likely not to have had a consultation at the clinic as yet. We adopt a multidisciplinary team approach to our patient care, which is highly beneficial during this new patient induction.

Planning

Pre-event preparation is key and in my experience, scheduling three months in advance for event planning is essential to allow ample time to cover this. Below is my framework, which I use on a session-to-session basis on creating the ideal event.

Three months prior

  • Decide on topic and key objectives: choose location, date and time
  • Determine target audience and set your ideal attendee number
  • Formalise your budget: catering, staffing, marketing
  • Send invitations and personally reach out to a focused and interested patient base, with clear call to action to ‘bring a friend who may be interested’
  • Secure any supplier support
  • Establish advertising plan: in-clinic brochures and invitations, emailers, social media, your clinic website

Six weeks prior

  • Finalise event agenda and brief patients on what they can expect, including whether you are holding live treatment demonstrations
  • Continue distributing invitations to internal patients
  • Determine what promotional offers you will include

Two weeks prior

  • Send a reminder email to invite attendees that have not RSVPd
  • Personally call invitees to follow up on invitations

Two days prior

  • Call RSVPs to remind them of the event
  • Brief team on structure and timings of the event and any promotional offers
  • Ensure everyone is aligned on roles and responsibilities

On the day

  • Preparation of the clinic with branding, information leaflets, marketing materials and banners
  • Set up refreshments area
  • Ensure attendees are registered and subscribe to marketing communications that are relevant to them so you can better manage follow-up conversations
  • Set up spaces for presentations, live treatment demonstrations and on-site mini consultations
  • Book appointments for attendees that are unable to have consultations on the day
  • Establish a leaving process where attendees are thanked and handed a goody bag and further information on how to contact your team for more information or to book a treatment
  • Encourage feedback using patient feedback questionnaires

The day after the event

  • Send ‘Thank You’ notes and emails to attendees
  • Contact any no-shows to invite back for a complimentary consultation

A well planned and executed event enables you to have a two-way conversation with attendees. This feedback is vital to ensuring your treatment portfolio is aligned and evolves with patient expectations and demand. It also enables your patients to become more knowledgeable in the area of aesthetics, which can increase their trust in you and your services, and increase your patient base.

Conclusion

Hosting events is a great way to introduce new treatment offerings to your existing patients as well as attracting new patients to your practice. Following three years of successful events and collaborations with our partner suppliers, we now have a streamlined approach to hosting effective, informative and educational events with clear objectives and goals, which sets us apart from other businesses. As business blogger Seth Godin says, “In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is a failure. In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible.”

References

1. Barry Schwartz, ‘The Paradox of Choice’, 2004. 


2. Richard Koch, ‘The 80/20 Principle’, 1997. 


3. Seth Godin, ‘Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being 
Remarkable’, 2003. 


Comments

Log-in to post a comment