No Scrubs? Most Derm Patients Prefer their Docs in White Coats

The majority of patients prefer their dermatologists to be dressed in white coats, according to a new article published online in JAMA Dermatology

Robert S. Kirsner, MD, PhD, Chair & Harvey Blank Professor in the Department of Dermatology & Cutaneous Surgery at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and coauthors surveyed the attitudes of dermatology patients in three clinical and one university academic center in Miami. In all, 261 were surveyed and 255 participated and completed enough questions to be included in the results.

Participants were shown photographs of physicians wearing business attire (suits), professional attire (white coat), surgical attire (scrubs), and casual attire in three settings: wound care, surgical dermatology, and medical dermatology. They were asked to indicate which physician they preferred in response to a series of questions.

Professional attire was preferred in 73 percent of responses and it was preferred across all three clinic settings, the study showed. Surgical attire was preferred in 19 percent of responses, business attire in six percent and casual attire in two percent.

The researchers did not study aesthetic patient preferences. But “my guess is that patients might still prefer traditional white coat professional attire,” Dr. Kirsner says.

Respondents even preferred the physician to wear professional attire when surgically removing a skin cancer, although a greater proportion of respondents did prefer surgical attire in this scenario compared with other ones.

Most respondents said they did not judge a doctor on their attire. Instead, they make decisions based on physician knowledge and skill.

“It is possible that patients’ perceptions of their physicians’ knowledge and skill is influenced by the physicians’ appearance, and these perceptions may affect outcomes,” the study concludes.

Future research is needed to define regional, geographic, social and cultural perception of professional attire in other populations, the study authors write.

Is the Price Right? Price Transparency Ups Conversion Ratio for Cosmetic Procedures

Price transparency provided via an online cost estimator may be a way to help convert more consumers who are considering cosmetic dermatology procedures into patients. A new study in the plastic surgery literature found this to be true.

When compared with non–price-aware patients, price-aware patients were 41 percent more likely to book a procedure, according to findings from a study published in the May 2016 issue of the Annals of Plastic Surgery.

A San Francisco plastic surgeon integrated a cost estimator into his website during his first year in private practice in a new city. The calculator allows visitors to submit a “wishlist” of procedures to check pricing on these procedures, but they must submit their contact information to receive the information. The website received 412 wishlists from 208 unique consumers. Consumers (17.8 percent) that submitted a wishlist came in for a consultation and 62 percent of those booked a procedure. The average value of a booked procedure was more than $4,000 and cumulatively, all of the leads from this one lead source in that first year generated more than $92,000 in revenue.

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Sometimes the most important role of a physician is leader. Whether in your practice or for your specialty overall, doctors must lead the charge forward. In this edition of Best Practices, host Joel L. Cohen, MD talks to Allan S. Wirtzer, MD about issues affecting medicine, including the rising costs of prescription drugs, and the ways that Dr. Wirtzer has been involved in advocating change to benefit his patients, his practice, and his peers.

“Plastic surgeons worry patients will price shop, won’t realize prices can change based on patient’s needs or body habitus and that competitors will check their prices,” says study author Jonathan Kaplan,MD, MPH, a plastic surgeon at Pacific Heights Plastic Surgery in San Francisco and Founder/CEO of KP Innovations, parent company of BuildMyBod Health, the price transparency platform used in this study. “By using the platform, consumers only get a price estimate after they provide their contact info so both the provider and consumer benefit—the consumer automatically gets specific pricing information on a specific procedure from a specific provider (something they can’t get anywhere else) and the provider gets the consumer’s contact info for follow up—a lead. Because all of the doctor’s prices are uploaded into a doctor-provided pricing database, the consumer receives pricing info in an automated fashion instantly. No time spent by the front office staff manually providing pricing info.”

Sticker shock definitely exists, he says. But “it’s silly to have a patient come in for a 45-minute consult (many doctors offer a free consult) and have that patient expose their deepest insecurities only to find out the procedure is out of their budget,” he explains. “Price is the ultimate pain point. Why wait till the patient has wasted all of that time in a consult to find that out.”

Price transparency is most beneficial before the consultation, he says. ”You would never go house hunting or car shopping without knowing the cost ahead of time. Why should out-of-pocket healthcare decisions be any different?” n