For years now, our consultation fee has been $100. This payment holds your spot on the schedule. In our experience, if we don’t request a consultation fee, the “no show” rate is higher. And it’s not a wasted $100 regardless. If you do purchase products, injectables or book a cosmetic procedure, that $100 goes towards the cost of those services. This $100 consultation fee is for virtual and in-person consultations alike. And even though we’ve always done this, callers are surprised that we charge for virtual consults. Here’s why?
Virtual consults are nothing new
The first thing that should be made very clear is that virtual consults are nothing new for us. We’ve always offered them as an option for out-of-town patients but also in-town patients that couldn’t get off of work early enough. The only thing that’s changed now is that virtual consults are the only option during the shelter-in-place.
After the shelter-in-place designation is lifted, we will continue to “push” virtual consults as our preferred method of seeing patients who want to discuss surgery. Yes, that means that the first time we see the patient in person could be the morning of surgery! While that may seem odd to see your surgeon only for the first time the morning of surgery, in the age of social media, there’s more to the story.
The patients that we see in our office virtually or in-person, are rarely seeing us for the first time. Most of our patients have been following us on social media, watching us operate, for months, before their consultation. So it’s not accurate to say they’re seeing us for the first time on the day of surgery. Because even before the virtual consult, they were seeing us operate and interact in our office on social media day in and day out!
Why we charge for virtual consults, just like regular consults
Whether it’s virtual or in-person, the doctor still avails the patient of their time and expertise. Whether it’s in person or not, that fact doesn’t change. So the fee shouldn’t change either. In fact, one could argue that, in the case of virtual consults, the consultation fee is a convenience charge! Because of the virtual consult option, the patient avoids the imposition of asking to leave work early, then driving to the office and searching for parking.
That being said, we did toy with the idea of not charging for virtual consults when this crisis began. We thought it might give people stuck at home something to do. But guess what we found? Just as we made it so easy to book a virtual consult online and not charge for it, it was just as easy for patients not to show up! With a greater than 80% no show rate, we reinstituted consult fees. In other words, those no shows ruined it for everyone!
So we’re back to charging for virtual consults and we’ve had a no show rate of 0%. We also have much more serious patients booking consultations. If you’re considering a cosmetic procedure, click here to check pricing online and then schedule your FaceTime or Skype consult online here!
Dr. Jonathan Kaplan is a board-certified plastic surgeon based in San Francisco, CA and founder/CEO of BuildMyBod Health, a price transparency-lead generation platform. You can watch him operate and educate @realdrbae on Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok.