SixSurgery’s opulent clinic nestled in the Fairmont Royal York Hotel is known for its incredible patient care, but when the pandemic struck North America they were forced to reevaluate their best practices. With some tech savvy changes, Dr. Jugenburg and the SixSurgery Clinic were able to maintain that high quality patient care even during the worst of times. In this interview, Dr. Jugenburg sheds some light on how personalized patient care doesn’t have to suffer even as we move into a more online world.
Did you ever offer online consultations before the COVID-19 pandemic?
We started using phone conferencing accompanied by pictures prior to the COVID-19 pandemic as an option for overseas patients. This is not something that we encouraged, as we thought in person consultations would give us more accurate assessments and a better understanding of patient wishes. We only started doing Zoom consultations in May 2020 as a temporary solution until we were able to start taking on patients again.
Did you find this made consultations more accessible or efficient?
We found that virtual consultations actually streamlined the consultation process allowing for an increased level of patient engagement. The domino effect of schedule delays from patients running late, the variability of time needed from patient to patient, and typical cancellations or rescheduling are unavoidable aspects of running a clinic. With virtual consultations, this level of “human error” or delays are mitigated leaving us more time with patients themselves and less time shuffling around patients in waitrooms and rooms.
The flow of consultations has never been more efficient. We meet on a completely confidential virtual call at a specific time. This way, we are able to see all of our patients, answer all of their questions, and dedicate our full attention during their appointment.
Have you found patient outcomes improve with video conferencing?
The outcome that has surprised me the most is the level of preparation and questioning from patients. Our in person consultations in the heart of downtown Toronto can be exciting and overwhelming for patients. We often get emails from patients who forgot to ask certain questions or disclose information at their consultation because of this. A virtual consultation has proven to be more comfortable for the patient, which leads to better, more in depth questions about their procedure. Our number one goal in a consultation is to make sure the patient is fully educated on the procedure, the risks, the recovery process, and all of the best practices to get their ideal results. We found that with virtual consultations we are able to get right to the point with these conversations, and the patients are even more receptive to the information.
Have you experienced any patient reluctance to video conferencing? If so, how did you overcome it?
Patients who are reluctant to do a video consultation are usually looking to take a look at our surgical facilities. This is completely understandable, and we always encourage patients to learn as much as they can about these aspects of the plastic surgery clinic that they choose. When a patient is specifically asking to see our facilities, we direct them to our website, where they can learn more about what our clinic has to offer and see a 3D view of the office. For patients who would like to share their surgical journey with the world, we live stream procedures on social media. That is the best way to see exactly what we do and how we operate as a clinic. While it may not be for everyone, we definitely recommend that private clinics utilize social media to substitute the level of connection that they may be missing out on right now.
Do you have any unique tips for other practices who may be struggling with online consultations?
A tip for healthcare professionals is to iterate and be creative. For breast augmentation consultations, trying on a sizing implant is one of the most helpful parts of the process. For this reason we developed a makeshift way to help patients do implant sizing from home. By using a small ziploc bag and measuring out specific grams of uncooked rice (to mimic CCs in a silicone implant), we are able to create the effect of implant sizers so that patients can get a more accurate idea of the size they’d like.
Did you do away with online consultations completely?
An in-person consultation will eventually happen before their surgery just to reassess the patient to confirm all of the findings from the initial virtual consultation. This would happen a minimum 2 days before their surgery date, so that all fees and surgical plans can be finalized before the surgery date.
If we thought that technology was an ever present form of communication before, the pandemic has definitely created an even bigger boom in the industry. It has forced everyone to find a way to use technology to connect with their friends, families, and customers in new ways, and that has catapulted us towards more opportunities for health technology in particular.