Earlier this month Real Self’s MediBeauty Today explored the question, “Should cosmetic surgeons post their prices online?” The post dove into the opinions of three doctors who had three very different opinions of the topic. One felt that listing pricing on the site helped qualify patients, while another other argued that prices should not be the reason a patient selects a doctor (and rather be based off of the perceived value of what that doctor could do for a patient). The third doctor expressed that because no two patients are alike, ultimately a realistic price cannot be provided. But it didn’t really answer the question posed: Should a surgeon post his or her prices online?
Patients Want It
Even though the doctors in the Real Self article didn’t see eye to eye on whether or not prices should be posted online, it was clear that price would ultimately influence whether or not a patient would book a procedure with a doctor, regardless of if it was posted or not. In our plastic surgery website study, cost was the second most sought-after piece of information patients wanted following before and after photos. If you do a search in Google for nearly any procedure your practice offers, cost will most likely be the second, most popular search in Google’s suggested queries. Finally, if you look at the Google trends for the top five most popular cosmetic surgery procedures worldwide (liposuction, breast augmentation, eyelid surgery, tummy tuck, and rhinoplasty), you’ll see a growing trend in users searching for cost.
As more patients look to empower themselves with the aid of the Internet, they look for more information to help make educated decisions about treatments and procedures they are considering. But if you’re a doctor who doesn’t want to disclose prices…What can you do?
Give A Little
Even if you don’t disclose your full price list you can begin the dialogue on your website by meeting at least some of your patients’ needs by providing some of the information they may need to know as it pertains to price.
General Cost Guidelines
Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Stuart A. Linder, MD, FACS uses this technique on his website. Recognizing that more patients were interested in cost, we worked to include information about what patients can expect to pay for when it comes to surgery. On his breast augmentation page he explains that a surgeon’s fees, operating room fees, implant fee, and anesthesia fees will all influence cost. Additionally on his site, he explains that silicone implants cost more than saline and that breast revision surgeries typically cost more than initial breast augmentations. While the doctor never discloses price to his patients on his procedure page, he does give patients a better understanding of what they can expect to pay for if they decide to have surgery performed by him.
If you’re willing to give up a little bit more cost information on your site, listing the average cost of a procedure may be the way to go. This will give patients a ballpark idea of what the cost will be if they decide to choose you as their doctor, and help them decide if your procedure price range is within their budget. As noted in the Real Self article, this will help pre-qualify some of your patients and weed out the ones that wouldn’t be willing to pay your fees. The average-cost approach can be combined with general cost guidelines, which can explain the particular factors that cause prices to fluctuate. This will help a patient understand why the cost of his or her desired procedure is much higher.
If You Aren’t, Someone Else Is
Ultimately whether you provide your price or not, the searching public who really wants to find it will do so one way or another. Sites like RealSelf.com provide average costs as part of their “Worth It Ratings” and better yet each user who reviews the procedure can say where they are and how much they paid for their procedure.
Additional associations give average cost with their annual reporting. Portals like our very own iEnhance.com offer average costs on procedure pages. General health websites, such as Discovery Health and WebMD, also feature pricing information for patients looking into the matter.
The choice on whether or not you want to display procedure pricing information on your website is yours and yours alone. Still, it’s important to recognize that more patients are looking for details on cost; and if you choose not to answer their query, another surgeon eventually will.
Our best advice is give them some type of cost-related information, even if it’s just a general idea of what the procedure costs on average. This may satisfy the prospective patient for the time-being, and hopefully encourage them to contact you. Giving out general, yet pertinent, cost information also helps you attract traffic for queries related to cost, which is rare due to the fact that most practitioners refuse to disclose this data on their websites.