Learn how to guarantee ‘happy patient endings’ by using these 5 core techniques to set realistic expectations from the start.
The show notes go even deeper and are located here:
All patients come in to a consultation and/or a treatment with expectations – realistic and/or unrealistic. The problem is they may not make all of their expectations clear to us. If this happens, if the patient has expectations she has not expressed and you have not detected, and if you treat her, there’s a likelihood that she will not be happy with her results.
It’s nearly impossible to make patients with false beliefs or unrealistic expectations happy if you treat them. And conversely, setting realistic expectations from the start leads to high patient satisfaction.
So how do we manage patient expectations? How can we uncover as much as possible? And how do we set clear expectations?
We’re going to take a deep dive into this in this episode. We’ll examine several factors that can cause a disconnect between us as providers and our patients. And point out ways that patients and providers don’t think the same way….at all.
We’ll give you 5 plainspoken steps that you must use to
set clear, manageable expectations,
demolish the risk of patient misunderstandings and
make your patients feel exceedingly happy with their results.
So let’s get started with our 5 steps.
Step One. Satisfy the Patient’s Emotional Experience
This one is easy to understand when you think of it this way. As providers we participate in the same consultation and treatment alongside the patient. But our experience of the consultation and treatment is quite different from that of our patients.
Let’s evaluate how we look at results and how patients feel about results. As providers, we view whether a treatment is a success in terms of good clinical outcomes. Providers might say, “Yes, just look at that difference.” The patients, on the other hand, are much more likely to place importance on the emotional aspect of their care, whether the results they achieved made them feel the way they thought they would.
Therefore, it’s so important at follow up appointments to emphasize the reduction with an emotion-provoking statement and get excited about it. Say something like, “Wow. Look at that beautiful hourglass shape you have now!” The patient will share your enthusiasm and she’ll feel good about herself and be thrilled with her results.
Step Two. Avoid Information Overload
This one can be a biggee. As providers, we know body contouring like the back of our hand. Patients don’t. In fact, many patients may even come in to see you full of misinformation. When you think about everything we discuss and cover during a consultation and a treatment, it’s a wonder patients understand as much as they do.
You do need to provide the patient with a thorough understanding of the treatment. Break it up when you can.
There are simple ways to do this.
To avoid overloading the patient with too much information at once, provide in depth information on your website. Ask the patient to review this information prior to her appointment.
You can also slowly drip information by email to the patient before the appointment – and even after the appointment. So send the patient emails on the days leading up to her appointments and perhaps following her appointments.
You’ll be sure to set manageable expectations when you’re providing with the information to the patient and the patient actually digests that information.
Step Three. Use Lay Communication
Have you ever been guilty of this? You start off the conversation saying something like this. “So with the laser lipolysis, the membranes of your adipocytes are damaged leading to the initiation of apoptosis.” Say what? Let’s translate. “With SculpSure, the laser destroys your fat cells and causes fat cell death. Your reduction will be permanent.” Much better, right?
You cannot assume your patient understands medical jargon or shop talk. Even when your patients are nurses and physicians. Try to avoid medical technology. Use lay terms whenever you can. Also remember that every patient is different and tailor your discussion to fit your patient.
You cannot set expectations if the patient doesn’t understand what you are saying.
Step Four. Check the patient’s understanding
How do you know the patient is understanding what you say? A good way to check what the patient has understood is to ask the patient what she has understood so far. You could use this after your discussion about expected treatment results. You can use questions like, “What kind of reduction are you looking for?” or “What kind of change would make you happy?”.
Also give the patient plenty of opportunities to ask questions. You can learn a lot from the questions asked.
Step Five. Show empathy
We’ve talked about empathy before. It’s a critical behavior that all providers need to perfect. Research has shown that effective communication between providers and patients significantly improves patient outcomes and the patient’s perception of their outcomes. So use the patient’s name, give the patient time to process information, take time to lay out key points, use eye contact and encourage questions and interaction.
Remember there’s two forms of communication – verbal and nonverbal. So don’t forget about body language. Look at your patient when you speak and when they speak. Smile. Nod your head to show you hear and understand.
When providers show empathy, patients feel free to open up and you’ll elicit more information about their expectations.
Put these 5 steps into practice now and you’ll consistently set realistic expectations for your patients.
Here’s your Action Step: Take each of the 5 steps and come up with a plan to make it a part of your team process. Then, start using it as soon as possible so you can be sure every one of your patients feels very happy with her results.
What happens when some patients are unhappy even though you did everything right? Could it be there are some patients you shouldn’t treat? Stay tuned because that’s what we’re going to explore in our next episode when we discuss UNselecting patients.
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That’s it for today.
Bye for now from Kay and Shannon at the the Body Contouring Academy’s Proven Profits Podcast.