2020 has brought some major changes to our lives. Whether we like it or not, social distancing, wearing a mask, and avoiding events is going to be with us at least for the near future. The medical field has also felt these new changes. In addition to COVID screening protocols for all patients, visitors, and staff, we have also significantly limited the number of in-person consultations. This has been done to minimize person-to-person contact, and so our part to help keep everyone safe. This has increased the popularity of “virtual consultations” with over 80% of our new consultations choosing this option.
A virtual consultation means that instead of a new consultation coming to the office to be evaluated for their surgical procedure, they are evaluated in another way that eliminates person-to-person contact. This is also commonly referred to as “tele-medicine” or “tele-health”. This is done over an electronic device such as a phone or computer. There are several platforms that can accomplish this task, such as facetime, zoom, or just the telephone. During your virtual consultation, you will be evaluated by the medical professional as if you were right in the office. While there are clearly some limitations to these types of evaluations, it can be very accurate and very successful when a skilled provider is combined with a patient who is forthcoming about every detail. Every doctor has a different method of performing these types of visits.
Your virtual consultation with Dr. Schulman:
Dr. Schulman has been offering virtual consultations for about 10 years now. This is because many of his patients come from long distances, and virtual consults offered a unique convenience for his out-of-town patients. However, new COVID-related restrictions now make virtual consultations a good option for even local patients. Dr. Schulman has been able to refine his virtual consultation process over the past ten years to make it more efficient and accurate.
Read below to learn more about the specific Virtual Consultation process with Dr. Schulman:
The initial step is complete an online virtual consultation submission form. This form is found directly on our website and asks for basic information about you, your medical and surgical history, and what procedure you are looking for. It also allows for submission of photographs so that Dr. Schulman can see the areas your are inquiring about. Out website contains instructions about how to properly take photographs and you can use our photo gallery as an example.
Initial Review Process:
After your submission is completed, your information and photographs will be personally reviewed by Dr. Schulman. Make sure to provide as much detail as possible, including dates of prior procedures. He will use all this information to determine if the requesting procedure is appropriate and safe. If you are a candidate for the procedure you are interested in, you will receive and email with more information about the procedure and details about available consultation dates and times.
If you are not a candidate for the procedure, you will also be notified by email with a brief reason why. Reasons why you may not be a candidate for the procedure may include that your current weight is about the safe limit, the procedure you are asking for is not the procedure that would give you the best results, you have medical problems or medications that would place you at increased risk for an elective cosmetic procedure.
Occasionally, you will be asked for more information. This is most common if you have had prior procedures that may affect the procedure you are inquiring about, and you did not list a date for that procedure. You may also be contacted if your photographs are lacking in quality and it makes it difficult to evaluate, or if you did not include photographs of the body part you are inquiring about. There is also the possibility that it is simply too difficult to evaluate you in this manner and you are better suited to have an in-person consultation. This is more likely if you have a very complicated medical or surgical history, or if the procedure you are asking for is a correction of a previous surgery.
Because every submission is reviewed by Dr. Schulman, it may 24-48 hours to receive a response. If you do not receive a response, be sure to check your spam folder!
Preparing for your Consultation:
After you have been deemed a candidate for your virtual consultation, you will be sent more detailed forms. These are the same forms that you would fill out if you were in our office waiting to be seen in person. These forms will ask for a more detailed medical and surgical history and will also outline important office policies.
You will also be sent information about how to pay for your virtual consultation. The submission process and Dr. Schulman’s initial review and approval are all done complimentary. However, our office does charge a consultation fee for your virtual consultation. A portion of this fee will be credited towards your surgery.
Dr. Schulman prefers to perform his virtual consultations via telephone. He has found that this is the most reliable method of communication and eliminates normal internet “glitches” that tend to occur. It also allows you more flexibility in terms of where you are during the consultation since you don’t have to worry about proper lighting, a computer, or internet connection.
Dr. Schulman will call you at the scheduled time and day of your consultation. He will have already reviewed all your paperwork and your photographs and will also have those in front of him. Dr. Schulman will discuss your goals and what is, or is not, realistic for you. This is the exact process that would be done during in in-person consultation in his office. You will have the opportunity to ask any questions you wish.
After your consultation:
Immediately after speaking with Dr. Schulman, you will be transferred to a surgical coordinator. This coordinator will discuss pricing for the procedure you just discussed with Dr. Schulman, and will let you know what the surgical availabilities are. The coordinator will also review our booking and scheduling policies with you.
After you book your surgery, you will be offered a “pre-operative appointment”, usually about 3-4 weeks prior to your surgery. This pre-op appointment will be done in-person, so you will have the opportunity to meet with Dr. Schulman in the office. This is an important part of the process, since it allows you and Dr. Schulman to meet each other, and confirm that the virtual recommendations still apply.
Advantages to Virtual Consultations
- Adhere to social distancing recommendations and minimize infectious risk
- Obtain a consultation sooner than for an in-person consultation
- Have the consultation from anywhere
- More flexibility on days and times
Dr. Schulman has been performing virtual consultation for ten years, so this new trend is nothing new for him. There are certainly difficulties with performing virtual consultations, since it is not always possible to determine skin quality and other things from photographs. However, Dr. Schulman is skilled at this process and will let people know if a virtual consult is not for them. Currently, about 80% of new consultations opt for this method. This is a good option for those requesting tummy tucks, mommy makeover, Brazilian butt lifts, liposuction, and breast augmentations.
To start the process of your Virtual Consultation with New York City plastic surgeon, Dr. Matthew Schulman, visit our website.