Competent or Caring: What Do Patients Really Want?

healthcare consumerization, patients, doctors, word cloudIt goes without saying that aesthetic consumers, like the providers they turn to, are intensely interested in achieving the best possible outcomes. But the fact is that the former are also looking for more than just a better profile or flatter belly — and doctors who understand that stand a better chance of being the providers those consumers turn to when it’s time to proceed.

Consider the above word cloud, which was created by asking members of the RealSelf community to describe the ideal aesthetic doctor in five words or less. The top three words — “experienced,” “honest” and “caring” — offer clear evidence that patients are looking for doctors who are not just technically adept but also emotionally supportive.

As RealSelf managing editor Chako Suzuki puts it,

[Patients] are taking a much more active role in the doctor-patient relationship — with an emphasis on relationship. In the case of the elective procedure, the consumer is making a decision that is much more personal, which is why an emotional connection with the doctor is just as valuable as the doctor’s depth of knowledge.

The results in no way demean or diminish the importance of skills, training or board certification; rather, they underscore the fact that healthcare, and especially elective healthcare, is rapidly evolving to the point where people are both patients and shoppers with all the options, choices and decision-making power that that entails.

That evolution is yet another aspect of the ongoing consumerization of healthcare. Simply put, today’s patients view their facelift or tummy tuck as part of a larger experience that starts when they first contact your practice and continues all the way through any required follow up and the resolution of any issues. Their experiences all along the way influence their opinions about particular providers and contribute to their ability to feel confident they’re making the right choice.

Bottom line: Today’s healthcare consumers expect doctors to demonstrate that they’re competent and caring. Therefore, doctors who make the effort to address patients’ emotional and psychological concerns are more likely to get the opportunity to help resolve their aesthetic ones.

Doctor Takeaway

Social media is the perfect platform to prove you care

Considering that nearly half of aesthetic consumers now receive most of their information about plastic surgery through social media, doctors who participate in the online conversation prove themselves to be available, approachable and more interested in helping people than “making a sale.” “The social web,” says RealSelf CEO Tom Seery, “is a great venue for a physician to demonstrate that they care and are caring.”

About Rob Lovitt

Rob Lovitt is a longtime writer and editor who believes every good business has a great story to tell. He has written for dozens of magazines and websites, including NBCnews.com, Expedia.com and the inflight magazines of Alaska, Horizon and Frontier airlines.

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