How Long Should Your Patient Consultation Be?
New aesthetics practitioners frequently ask how long a patient consultation should last. Here, our director of education, Dr Kalpna Pindolia, addresses this commonly asked question…
Why your patient consultation is key
Your patient consultation is key in aesthetic medicine. Some of the most important aspects of the process embraces:
– Excluding contraindications for treatment.
– Establishing trust and rapport for a longer term professional relationship.
– Empowering shared care, with patients being fully informed about their options.
– Providing exemplary outcomes and service.
– Recognising when not to treat.
How long should a consultation be when you’re starting out in aesthetics?
Rest assured, the more you do consultations and procedures, the more efficient you’ll become. However, at the beginning when you may be anxious, it’s good to allow plenty of time to manage consultations. This alleviates potential time stressors and allows you to perform at your best. Importantly, more time means you can reflect on what went well and worked. Conversely, you should also consider aspects that could be improved.
I started off allocating 1 hour for each appointment to be split between the consultation and, where relevant, treatment. This worked out as roughly 45 minutes per consultation and 15 minutes for most treatments.
Another time management factor that helped was to allow 15 minute gaps between appointments to manage any documentation or admin.
These timescales will vary depending on your individual needs as time progresses. Now I’m comfortable with 45 minute appointments for new patients and 30 minutes for regular ones.
How to break down your consultation
In terms of making the most of your time, it’s useful to break your patient consultation down…
– Deliver consultations in a quiet, private and comfortable space.
– Get used to the basic routine of asking about patients’ medical history and conducting a systematic facial examination.
– Have printed or virtual information to hand, such as consented before and after images and aftercare instructions.
– Let the patient dominate the conversation initially, so they can express their needs openly.
– Keep calm, smile and listen – empathy will take you a long way in delivering high quality consultations. Consider how the process feels for them and what it’s like to be in their shoes.
Addressing common concerns new injectors have about consultations
New aesthetics practitioners often have a number of common concerns about consultations.
1 Lacking confidence to talk about your knowledge and expertise
– Combat this by practicing your consultations with friends and family. This way you can start considering treatment plans and benefit from their feedback.
2 Talking about money
– See this as you offering an expert service, rather than a process of selling. As a medical professional, get comfortable with understanding your immense worth in terms of payment for your time, care and experience.
– Don’t go down the route of offering discounts… it’s hard to go back!
– Remember that complications are rare in aesthetic medicine.
– Have your emergency protocols and kits ready. Also have support numbers easily accessible in case you need advice.
– Allow enough time for your consultation and treatment. Being less stressed will mean fewer complications in the first place.
4 Treating when feeling pressured to do so
– Some patients can be quite persuasive, but never treat if you feel you should not – even if it’s purely gut instinct. Treatments are a choice for patients, as they are non-essential. Who you treat is also your choice.
– Look out for red flags suggesting a patient may be challenging.
– Implement a cooling-off period before considering treating. This is particularly useful if the patient is unsure, or if you’re unsure of how to move forward.
Constantly evolve your patient consultation skills
The consultation is, for me, the most rewarding part of aesthetics. I love talking to my patients. It’s a wonderful opportunity to understand their perspectives, including how your treatments can really boost their quality of life.
Getting to know your patients over time and seeing how natural, rejuvenative tweakments empower their day-to-day life is so rewarding.
You can learn the foundational aesthetic medicine treatments relatively quickly… But any good practitioner is always evolving their patient consultation skills.