Pamper your patients: Promotions, personal attention will keep your 'customers' satisfied

January 1, 2009

National report - In a troubled economy, the following prescriptions can help practices attract and retain patients, dermatologists say.

Key Points

National report - In a troubled economy, the following prescriptions can help practices attract and retain patients, dermatologists say:

"That motivates some potential cosmetic patients to start using the products."

Likewise, Don Mehrabi, M.D., says that during the fall, his Beverly Hills, Calif., office began offering "Botox Fridays," during which the cost drops 25 percent to 30 percent.

"We also offer private Botox parties on Fridays," he says.

If a patient wants to bring a group of friends, he says, "We close the office for them. It's a very select private party" that provides personal attention and makes guests feel pampered.

Hopefully, "Each of those clients will want to have another Botox party or invite other people to the office," he says.

Additionally, Dr. Mehrabi offers 20 percent discounts for patients who do Botox (botulinum toxin A, Allergan) and Juvéderm (hyaluronic acid, Allergan) treatments on the same day. With such combinations, he says, "The hope is that you eventually do more of these two procedures."

Embrace public speaking. "Affiliating with a big medical center is important, especially for a new practice. It's helped me enormously," Dr. Bowes says.

Specifically, the hospital sponsors and promotes 30- and 60-second TV spots featuring Dr. Bowes discussing common skin problems such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

She also does at least two local lectures, which are promoted in the Miami Herald newspaper, each year.

"A good way for dermatologists to get started is to approach the nearest medical center, university or hospital and say, 'I'm willing to do community lectures,'" she says.

Maximize customer service. "Offering good customer service is the best way to retain patients and gain new ones," Dr. Mehrabi says. This means knowing patients by their first names, keeping wait times brief, providing waiting-room beverages, having friendly staff and spending as much exam-room time with patients as needed, he says.

In his mostly medical-practice Glendale, Calif., office, he says, "We've been more diligent about sending letters to patients we have not seen in a year, inviting them to come in for their skin cancer screening."

Provide convenience. "We provide appointment times between 4 and 6 p.m. for people who can't receive cosmetic procedures during the day," says Timothy Brown, M.D., member of a 14-dermatologist practice in Louisville, Ky.

"In a cosmetic practice, that's one of the best things one can do - provide not only the best treatments, but also convenience, to get patients in when they want to have these procedures performed," Dr. Brown tells Dermatology Times.

Customize. "Everything is very customized in our practice," says Debra Jaliman, M.D., a Manhattan dermatologist in private practice and associate professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York.

Electronic medical records allow the practice to provide individualized printouts of patient instructions and prescriptions.

"I give patients my personal e-mail address," she says. "So, I answer patients' e-mails all through the day and night."

Disclosure: Drs. Mehrabi, Bowes, Brown and Jaliman report no relevant financial interests.

For more information:

http://www.bhskin.com/

http://www.mercymiami.org/

http://www.drjaliman.com/

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