Zwivel, touted as the Uber of plastic surgery, is a brand-new online cosmetic consultation platform. It serves as a tool for patients to find the right doctor at the right price from the comfort of their own home. Doctors also reap the benefits as the platform gives them the opportunity to virtually advise patients about procedures that meet their needs without booking valuable consultation time in the office. Founded in 2012 and launched earlier this year, the site boasts more than 750 registered doctors and counting. We talked to Gary Breslow, M.D., CEO of Zwivel, to learn about this game-changing website.
Why was Zwivel created?
Zwivel was created as a modern-day remedy for the inefficient process of cosmetic consultations, for both doctors and patients. On average more than 6 out of 10 patients who go in for a consultation for a cosmetic procedure with a cosmetic doctor never have a procedure with that doctor. The reasons vary. Some patients are not appropriate candidates for the procedures they are interested in having. Some patients have unrealistic budget expectations. Others are just shopping until they find the right “fit” in a doctor.
The reality is that cosmetic doctors are very time constrained and do not have time to waste on consultations that do not result in a procedure. Similarly, 90 percent of all cosmetic patients are women, most of whom have jobs, or children, or both, and they simply do not have time to go around from doctor to doctor to find out which procedure and which doctor is the right one for them.
The underlying issue is that it does not become apparent that the consultation was a waste of time until the end of the consultation, after the time has already been wasted. Years ago, I began referring to this as the “consultation conundrum”—the apparently universal and yet seemingly unresolvable phenomenon where a cosmetic doctor and cosmetic patient have to go through a full, in-office cosmetic consultation to find out that it was, in fact, a waste of time to go through the consultation in the first place. It was the equivalent of “blind dating” for cosmetic procedures.
Then one day in January, 2012 after a day filled with back-to-back-to-back consultations that did not result in a procedure, I boarded a plane for an annual father-son ski trip, and vented to my close friend about the frustrating inefficiency of the cosmetic consultation process. For four hours we sat there, going back and forth, working through a possible solution. By the time we landed in Utah, Zwivel was born.
How does Zwivel work?
Through zwivel.com’s free, easy-to-use, online platform, cosmetic patients can search for and select from multiple cosmetic doctors and start their cosmetic consultation with the selected doctors online from their computer or smartphone, without ever leaving their home. Patients can indicate their concerns, procedures of interest, budget, and timeframe, and even record a video telling the doctors all about them and what they want. The selected doctors can then reply with their opinions, estimated fees, and their own recorded video. So if a the patient then chooses to move forward with a full, in-office consultation with any of these doctors, they can engage with the doctor in a convenient, efficient and uniquely interactive way, ensuring they are ready for the procedure, thereby saving both themselves and the cosmetic doctors valuable time. The entire process is completely private and secure, HIPAA-compliant, and one-to-one between each patient and each doctor.
How is HIPAA privacy protected?
All information is stored on an encrypted, HIPAA/HITECH compliant, private and secure server. Also, the site is anonymous—patients do not give their names, but only usernames.
How are doctors/practices screened or chosen to be included?
We verify the credentials of each and every doctor who registers through a systematic internet search for training, licensure, and board-certification status. We also call each office to confirm that they did, in fact, register.
How has it helped both clients and doctors?
It effectively acts as the "match.com" to the blind dating process that is today's current cosmetic consultation process. The patient still has to go in for the full consultation, but with Zwivel they will now know if the consultation is worth going to. By introducing efficiency into the inefficient cosmetic consultation process, it streamlines the process, saving both cosmetic doctors and patients valuable time. Cosmetic conversions are doubled, and consultation times are cut in half.
How has this changed the cosmetic surgery industry?
In addition to streamlining the cosmetic consultation process, it is making it more accessible. Cosmetic industry studies and surveys estimate that there are approximately 11 million potential cosmetic patients who are on the fence about getting a cosmetic procedure, but have not pulled the trigger to go in for a consultation. Zwivel streamlines the process by which potential cosmetic patients can find out which doctor and which procedure is the right one for them, all without ever leaving their home.
What is possible for the future?
We have several exciting features in development that will all further help cosmetic patients connect with the appropriate cosmetic doctors. We will also be launching an advertising platform soon that will help cosmetic vendors connect with both cosmetic patients and cosmetic doctors.