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I can’t change the price of my consultation as some of my competitors charge less. Sound familiar?

Updated: Oct 4, 2022

How do you set your price for the initial consultation? You want to be competitive and not turn people away from your practice because of the fee. These consultations are potential new treatment starts.

A new patient consultation will always be a loss leader so remember this when setting a price! Understand the need to measure case acceptance to make up for the loss.

Some of my recommendations to consider when setting your initial consultation fee are:

1. Find out your competitor's fees for a consultation, and what is included.

2. Do a cost analysis for time and materials to see the “actual” cost of the consult. Ensure calculation includes nurse and doctor time, coupled with consumables and infection control.

  • Eg: Nurse $35, Dr time 15 minutes = $150, chair turnover including consumables $75. The total cost is $260.

  • At a practice I visited, the receptionists advised me that a competitor's practice nearby charged less for their initial consultations. Further investigation revealed that the patients of that practice had to attend multiple times for the same thing their practice did in one hour-long consultation.

3. Consider deducting the consultation fee from the treatment fee. The patient pays on the day of the consultation. When they commence their treatment, the fee for the consultation is deducted.

4. Ensure that all item numbers for what you do in the consultation are included in the bill. This way, if patients have private health insurance, they may be able to claim more. I have seen a consultation taking an hour and then the patient is billed as a less than half-hour code.

5. Understand fully why the patient is attending your practice. This means getting information at the initial call. This way, the practice fully understands their needs and that the practice offers a service suited to their needs.

6. If siblings wish to book, just book one child in. (I have found many cancellations and misses are sibling appointments). Advise parent/guardian that the doctor will have a quick look at the other child, (usually the younger one), to see if the doctor feels they will need to be seen for a full consultation at a later stage. Ensure it is stated that it is just a really quick look. This builds goodwill, saves the parent money, and potentially the practice from having rescheduled or cancelled appointments.

Finally, once you have set your fee it’s all about communication and advising the patients on what they will receive. The big thing now is telling your “story”. This is something that the healthcare profession needs to understand and capitalise on.

For example, practitioners often tell me why they are different to their competitors, but this usually does not appear to be clearly articulated to their patients at the initial contact.

To assist in this process of advising patients, I believe it is vital to create a New Patient call script. This can be a bullet point one-sided card. It gives continuity to the new patient process and assists the receptionists on what to say to the patients. This call script includes how the consultation works, what is special about your doctor, together with location, price, hicaps facilities etc. This shows them the value of their consultation with your practice!

To learn more about how I can help your health care practice, visit my services.

This is a personal blog. Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organisations that the owner may or may not be associated with in a professional or personal capacity unless explicitly stated. Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club organisation, company, or individual.

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