Jonathan Kaplan, MD, MPH
Pacific Heights Plastic Surgery, San Francisco, CA
Dr. Jonathan Kaplan is a board-certified plastic surgeon based in San Francisco, CA and founder/CEO of BuildMyHealth, a price transparency-lead generation platform. He's also the author of a forthcoming book on the resurgence of the independent practice and price transparency in healthcare. You can watch him operate and educate @realdrbae on Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok.
Data was collected from Dr. Tim Sayed, a plastic surgeon in San Diego, from May 1st through June 22nd, 2021.
Data included the estimated cost of procedures chosen by patients through a Price Estimator and chatbot on his website. These estimates were then compared to the actual cost of the procedure quoted to the patient once they came in for a consultation.
The perceived inaccuracy of online estimates is often cited as a reason not to provide pricing at all. The conventional wisdom being that consumers don't have enough fundamental knowledge to choose the "right" procedure from a list and are therefore surprised or disappointed to find out the procedure they expected is different than the procedure their doctor recommends.
Dr. Sayed's price estimator generated 86 unique leads over the course of the study. 14 patients came in for a consultation, a lead-to-consultation rate of 16.28%. 5 of the 14 consultations (35.71%) booked surgery during the short timeframe mentioned above.
All 5 patients that booked surgery selected a breast procedure when using the price estimator on his site and all five were candidates for breast procedures. There were some cases where they also needed a lift as part of their en bloc capsulectomy and implant removal or also needed fat grafting in addition to these en bloc resections. In all, the difference in cost between their estimated online quote and their actual procedure costs varied by 10.62%. This is comparable to being off by $800 for an $8000 procedure. With this relatively small variation, online estimates should be considered accurate enough to be helpful to the patient.
Take Home Message
Online estimates are accurate enough and close enough to the actual cost of a procedure to provide actionable insight to the patient prior to coming in for a consultation.