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The doctor-patient network is a web of interconnecting relationships forged between each person who steps through your door. A key strategy for effectively growing an aesthetic practice is optimizing patient referrals, but as a provider, it is important to understand that every referral received can be traced back to a single patient experience. Before you sit down with a patient, consider the number of social relationships that patient may have. Increased patient satisfaction starts by forging a bond that will resonate throughout that social network.

Last week I had a chance to spend some time with a friend who recently had bariatric surgery. We got to talking about how difficult a decision it must have been to not only have the surgery, but also to find the doctor best suited for her. Imagine my surprise when she told me it wasn’t a hard decision at all. She had always known which doctor she would choose, because that doctor had performed the same surgery on other members of her family. It was a striking execution of a very simple but successful medical marketing strategy. This doctor had become a part of their family.

Like many aesthetic procedures, the bariatric surgery process includes extensive counseling in order to ensure the patient is mentally prepared for the lifestyle change. So when one member of the family elected to have the procedure, the doctor invited the rest of the family into the process as well. He had them participate in seminars and consultations. His goal was to ensure that the patient would recover in a positive environment, but in doing so he also gave the family a chance to get to know him on a personal level.

One of the most important things you can do to increase patient satisfaction is establish the personal connection. Most patients who come into your aesthetic practice will cherish their physical appearance, and so altering that appearance in any way becomes both a physical and psychological issue. Remember that patients nowadays are much more involved in the process of medical treatment. Most of them will come to you with information they have scoured from internet and magazine articles. They will have preconceived notions of certain procedures, perhaps stemming from stories they have heard from friends or relatives. When they come to you, they are seeking peace of mind, but oftentimes the information you provide them with will not be the decision-making factor.

Consider a theoretical scenario in which a client named Jane comes to your office seeking a consultation about an abdominoplasty. She is curious but hesitant, and you sit down with her to discuss the procedure and map out a plan for her recovery. Jane leaves your office pleased and excited about the future. But Jane has a sister whose coworker was recently hospitalized for a blood clot after having a similar procedure. When Jane calls her sister to tell her about her visit with you, Jane’s sister pleads with her not to have the surgery because she is worried the same thing will happen to Jane. Anxious and unsure, Jane reconsiders the information you shared with her earlier and decides against having the abdominoplasty.

Surely you would have spent some time discussing side effects with Jane, but perhaps not at great length. You do not know Jane’s sister. There is no way you would have been able to anticipate the information Jane would receive when she left your office, and so you miss the critical opportunity to ease Jane’s mind about such worries.

This is why involving the patient’s family in the surgical process can become an effective aesthetic marketing tool that will set you apart from the rest. The relationship with the family is nearly as meaningful as the relationship with the self, and in most cases it is the first place to which a patient will go when seeking comfort or reassurance. Of course you want a patient to rest assured that he or she has made the right decision and is in capable hands. How much anxiety and stress will it save the patient if the family – the safety net – has that same comfort and trust in you? Next time a client calls you to schedule a consultation, ask them if they would feel more comfortable inviting a family member along as well.

The involvement of a patient’s family also allows for greater cosmetic surgery advertising opportunity. If the family sees positive results firsthand, other family members will be more likely to come to you as well. Each of those family members will bring their children, friends, or coworkers to you. And in turn, you gain a customer base made up of small networks of families and an opportunity to grow your own family of clientele.