by Eliza Cabana
Social media offers innumerable opportunities to create relationships with prospective patients. But what most influences a patient’s decision to consult with and ultimately choose a surgeon?
Adam Honeybrook, M.B.B.S., a facial plastic surgeon in Lafayette, La., says he and coauthors of “Rhytidectomy: A Social Media Analysis,” a poster presented at Cosmetic Surgery Forum 2019, were surprised by what they found in their research.
Interpersonal skills – not reviews or before and after pictures – top the list.
“We thought that reviews and before and after photos may have a higher impact, but actually… the impact of those factors was fairly low,” says Dr. Honeybrook, a Sydney, Australia native.
In the study, Dr. Honeybrook et al. examined factors that influenced facelift patients when choosing their surgeons.
“We looked at this specific procedure, facelift surgery, to see how patients choose their surgeon, how they interact with their surgeon and if they actually like the results,” says Dr. Honeybrook, explaining that many patients won’t discuss unsatisfactory results with their surgeon.
Using the patient review site RealSelf, the researchers collected data from 1876 reviews written between April 2017 and June 2019. They recorded general demographic data as well as reasons patients provided for wanting to have the procedure, why they chose their surgeon, how long they spent researching their surgeon, recovery time, postoperative pain, satisfaction with results and RealSelf Worth It scores.
In each review, “…we looked at various data points that we wanted to collect,” says Dr. Honeybrook, noting that not every review included each of the data points, so they had to be opportunistic in the data gathering process.
A total of 88% of facelift patients were female and 12% were male. The largest group of patients (40%) was in the 60- to 69-year age range, with the 50- to 59-year range (36%) coming in a close second. The remaining patients were under the age of 50 (16%) and over the age of 70 (8%).
Before choosing their facelift surgeons, 38% of patients reported “extensive” (1 to 2 years) research and 70% consulted with more than one surgeon.
Researchers found patients had two key reasons for choosing their facelift surgeons: personality/demeanor (26%) and their ability to answer questions (23%).
Other factors included credentials (9%), skill/artistry (8%), returning patient (6%) and surgeon recommendations (5%). Coming in at less than 5% were before and after photos, positive reviews, positive emotional response, referral, price and surgeon’s appearance. Nearly half of the reviews (42%) didn’t list a reason. Only 2% reported regret with surgeon selection.
The overall Worth It score for this population of facelift surgery patients was 96.9%.
“The most important factors why patients chose their surgeon for facelift was related to their ability to communicate, establish rapport, have an appropriate demeanor and answer their questions…,” says Dr. Honeybrook. “So in terms of facelift, at least, the patients mostly chose their surgeon…for interpersonal reasons.”
According to Dr. Honeybrook, it’s widely believed by medical providers that patients weigh patient reviews and before and after photos most heavily when choosing their physicians.
“But it was these basic factors of communication, speaking to them clearly and understanding them, where they wanted to go with their surgery, and also understanding what questions they had,” he says.