If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then a before-and-after photo is probably worth at least $1,000 per week to an aesthetic medical practice. The results that you provide to patients speak not only to your skills, but also provide a reference and educational platform for new and existing patients interested in treatments.
Implementing a before-and-after photo protocol into your practice is very important. This will serve as a standard operating procedure (SOP) for every patient that comes into your practice.
HOW DO YOU CREATE AN SOP FOR PHOTO MANAGEMENT?
Before-and-after photos are vital parts of the patient record. It helps to document visual changes from treatment, it defines where adjustments should take place in some cases, and it also helps to identify other opportunities for treatment.
Your practice should evaluate the process of consenting, gathering, taking and archiving of your before and after photos. We will go through some tips and tricks to be sure that you are covering all of the bases in order to have an efficient photo management system.
THE PHOTO CONSENT
If you’re not doing it already, make sure to communicate before and after photos as a mandatory activity with each patient that you treat. Not only does this help to protect the provider and the practice, but it helps to serve as a starting point when discussing previous or upcoming treatments with your patient.
Once you have these photos there will be some patients that have outstanding results. Consenting these patients to use their photos will help to educate and excite other patients about the potential the treatment offers.
TOP TIPS FOR YOUR CONSENTS
- Every patient should consent or sign electronically to have their photos taken for at least educational and medical purposes
- Be sure to have multiple levels of where the photos can be used:
- In Office
- Educate patients that when they are consenting for marketing use, they can easily specify if they would prefer their photos to be cropped for anonymity
- It’s ok to ask again for consents! If a patient opted out in the beginning of the registration process, they may have changed their mind now that you know your practice better.
Having a good designated area to take photos is very important for standardization and consistency. Consider investing in a good digital camera and proper lighting. Be sure to communicate to all staff members what your photo protocol is for photo taking.
Below is an example of what a photo protocol could look like. Remember that is it easier to zoom in than zoom out! Have a designated distance that you are always taking your photos, so that you can get your entire image taken in one shot. If you are limited in space in your office and don’t have a room available to be designated as a photo room, you can easily use the back of treatment room doors, and mark off on the floor the distance the photo shooter should be standing when taking the photo.
TOP TIPS FOR PHOTO TAKING
- When taking photos, be sure to stand back far enough to get the entire image taken in one shot
- It’s easier to zoom in, but you can’t zoom out
- Never take a patient’s face with their body or breast photo
- Make sure there is standardization to all of your photos
- Appoint a point person to execute the photo protocol
PHOTO ARCHIVING AND CATALOGING
Remember that your patients’ photos are considered to be part of their Patient Health Information (PHI) and so must be protected according to HIPAA standards. If you are storing photos in an unsecured environment, you could be exposing yourself to breaches and leaks, which could result in monetary penalties of up to $1.5 million dollars, loss of your professional licenses, loss of patients, and other damages.
If you are storing photos in an unsecured environment, you could be exposing yourself to breaches and leaks, which could result in monetary penalties of up to $1.5 million dollars, loss of your professional licenses, loss of patients, and other damages.
You MUST safeguard your photos. If you have devices like laptops or mobile devices that are not password protected that leave your premises, this could expose you to HIPAA breaches. If you have metadata associated with your photos, be sure that you are eliminating that metadata before sending off patient photos to your marketing partners for usage on your website, or for your staff members to be aware of before posting on social media platforms. Establishing a standardized naming convention for your photos that are consented for marketing use can be very helpful. An example of a naming convention could be:
Using a photo cataloging platform that is easy to use will make your day easier! Patients will appreciate being able to see their results, and it will help protect and document the results of the treatment. Also consider if your providers are creating presentations for lectures, how you want to be tagging specific photos for easy future reference and extraction.
TOP TIPS FOR PHOTO ARCHIVING AND CATALOGING
Create an organizational system for cataloging your photos and consents
- Create an organizational system for cataloging your photos and consents
- Be sure to safeguard your photos
- Never edit the surgical or treatment results in your photos
- Eliminate metadata of photos before using on web platforms and social media
patientNOW provides a secure Photo Management platform that allows you to gather the proper consent, tag photos with designated metadata into the patients’ record, and view those photos in a variety of ways, including printing and email those photos easily for the patient. There is even a feature that allows you to pull photos directly into a PowerPoint presentation for educational purposes.