Setting the right price for aesthetic procedures fuels the financial health of the cosmetic practice and the physician’s professional satisfaction, according to Flora Levin, M.D., an oculoplastic surgeon in Westport, Conn.
But arriving at the magic number requires careful consideration of several factors. Doing so helps to avoids cosmetic procedure commoditization, according to Heidi A Waldorf, M.D., of Waldorf Dermatology Aesthetics , in Nanuet, N.Y.
“What core cosmetic physicians should not be doing is worrying about matching prices with medi spas or others in the community who do not have our level of training. We should not compete on price, but instead on our skill,” Dr. Waldorf says.
Drs. Levin and Waldorf point to these seven key considerations when pricing procedures in cosmetic practices.
1. Disposable Costs
In the last 20 years, there has been an explosion in the number of injectables and devices that have disposables, according to Dr. Waldorf.
“Disposables add a significant amount to physician overhead,” Dr. Waldorf says. “Equipment is a fixed cost, but disposables add cost to each procedure. When considering two otherwise equivalent procedures (time required and whether physician or staff is provider), the one with higher disposable costs will generally need to be higher in order to cover cost and make a return.”
There are variables, however. In some cases, physicians might get discounts on disposable costs, which they can choose to pass on to patients as a special. Physicians frequently bundle procedures into a single price package, to better meet patients’ desired outcomes and better absorb the costs of expensive disposables, according to Dr. Waldorf.
It is critical to make sure that patients are comfortable with the price of the procedure relative to the expected clinical result. The cost to the physician and price to the patient of a technology-heavy noninvasive procedure may be high and the results may be subtle. That needs to be considered both when setting prices and when recommending procedures to a given patient, Dr. Waldorf says.
2. Time Required for Doctor vs Staff Member to Perform the Procedure
The doctor’s time is more expensive than a staff member’s time.
“If the doctor is in the room doing a procedure for an hour, that’s taking the doctor away from doing other things that only the doctor can do,” Dr. Waldorf says. “Procedures done by ancillary staff free the physician to see other patients.”
States vary in laws about physician oversight and regulating which procedures staff members can and cannot perform, according to Dr. Waldorf. In states in which physicians only can use energy-based devices, for example, the pricing will need to be set higher or the doctor may need to accept a lower profit, she says.