The pandemic saw online consultations and skincare sales boom for many clinics while doors were closed. But online skin consultations are more than just a stop-gap. Dr Jennifer Owns explains how working with GetHarley has transformed her business.
Aesthetic Medicine: Why did you decide to offer online consultations?
Dr Jennifer Owns: The pandemic initiated our move into online consultations. I tried to do it all myself initially: the notes, the orders, the shipping; It was time-consuming, inefficient and not a good experience for the patient, so I started to work with GetHarley, which connects clients with skincare professionals for personalised regimens delivered to their door.
AM: How does it work?
JO: I meet the patient online and have an initial chat about their skin, their concerns and their goals. From this conversation, I can usually gather three concerns. I take them through them and then look at the best ways to approach them with home care (and sometimes in-clinic treatments). I ask them what they are currently using, googling ingredients as we go to see if they are using what’s right for their skin type and concerns. I also ask them about their lifestyle and routine. Do they drop the kids off at school? Do they go to pilates? This helps me figure out when it’s best for them to start their daily regime. I also offer advice on how to cleanse their skin properly and educate them about their disrupted skin barrier and the fact their skin is ageing, and what that means. I then go on to products: retinol to target lines; an exfoliant to target a dull complexion etc.
I then share my screen to show them the image of my digital product shelf, which is a really powerful tool as the patient gets to see the recommended products. I then take them through their AM and PM routines. There’s no need for note-taking, as everything is accessible for them to refer to at any time. It’s so time-efficient, which is why online consultations are so effective.
The two things I really love about working with GetHarley is that you’re creating a shelf rather than selling. You are compiling a regime, similar to collating a wardrobe, one that works in line with their lifestyle, personality, and concerns. It’s also easier to add products to a shelf for a client to refer to than to recommend in person. I can add anything I think would be good for them, such as a hydrating mask for use before a special event, which they can purchase when the time’s right. All clients also receive continuous care via a GetHarley Skincare Concierge, who helps guide and support a client at times I’m not available.
AM: Is there a consultation choice for the customer?
JO: There are different consultation options.
One is an in-depth 55-minute consultation covering skincare and in-clinic treatments.
The Skincare Spotlight is 30 minutes (this is only skincare-focused, with no time to discuss in-clinic treatments).
AM: How have you improved your online service in the last two years?
JO: Forms are sent to the patient as soon as they book, and having a client’s medical history filled out beforehand helps you prep properly. GetHarley also asks for information and images to be sent over.
Having how-to videos on my social media has also helped as I can direct my patients to these to see how to use products correctly. I also sometimes direct them to lifestyle posts, such as a sugar detox, to help their acne (for example).
Now around 99% of my consultations are online. Even my treatment consults as I know how efficient and effective they are. Before April 2020, I did 100% consults in clinic.
A consultation is not about figuring out where you are going to place filler; it’s about a client understanding the treatment procedure, the risks, the costs etc. Then they have their cooling-off period. By the time they are in the clinic for the treatment, you know they are completely informed.
AM: How do you see online consultations fairing for the future?
JO: I think, a bit like the working hybrid of a few days at home and the rest in the office, online consultations will continue to be part of the pre- and post-treatment service for clinics. It’s more time-efficient for all of us.
AM: Who do you think online consultations work best for?
JO: It’s not about being tech-savvy or extroverted, it’s about practice and being open to building a rapport in this way. The more you do it, the better you get.
AM: What online issues have you had and overcome?
JO: Wifi! Now I do all of my online consultations at the clinic. Figure out where you have the best service as the quality of wifi and sound is key.
AM: What are your top five tips for embarking on online consults?
1. Troubleshoot before you start. Do some mock consults first. It will knock your confidence if you have tech issues the first time you do a consultation.
2. Get comfortable on camera. If you have social media, do an IG live or some videos.
3. Audit what you are currently doing. Have some prompts on your screen to help you with the patient pathway.
4. Good lighting and prep. Ensure you are set up and have everything you need ready to start.
5. Be you. You can do what you do even better online.