Cancellation FeeThe cancellation fee for your medical practice operates similarly to the one you’d find at a hotel. For instance, at a hotel, if you cancel your visit within 48 hours of the reservation you are charged a cancellation fee. This would work the same in a medical practice. If a patient cancels their appointment within a certain window from the date, they’re charged the fee.
There’s no set price for this charge, so every physician can gauge what they feel is right for their practice. This gets skin in the game from the consumer, providing them greater incentive to show up.
A consultation fee is the stronger of the two financial incentives. As the name implies, a consultation fee is a charge for an initial consultation with the physician. It is the consumer valuing your time and paying a fee to see you.
When To Use Each Fee?
So now that you know what the fees are, let’s move on to how you can use these potential upfront fees to reduce your no-show or cancellation rate. There are two factors to consider when deciding what fees your practice should use: your current schedule capacity and how your practice will handle a reduction in consultations.
If you consistently have time to schedule patient consultations within the next ten business days, be very careful how you use cancellation fees and consultation fees. Assuming you’re satisfied with the number of hours you already have dedicated to consultations, it’s best to start with only a cancellation fee. That’ll offset some of the risk that will occur when you bring in taking a fee of any sort.
Reduction in Consultations
The minute you bring either of these fees to your practice, your lead to scheduled appointments rate (both phone and email), will decrease by 30% or more. This is why you need to keep your schedule in mind when determining what fees you are going to use.
Putting It All Together
You need to analyze several key aspects of your practice to determine how implementing these fees will impact your growth and success. You must consider both the age of your practice and the availability of your schedule to determine how fees will impact your clientele.
If you can schedule people within 10 business days and still find yourself struggling with frequent cancellations, start with the cancellation fee first. This will have less of a negative impact on the consumer’s experience than the consultation fee.
As your practice matures and you start to schedule people out beyond 10 business days because you don’t have any availability, then you can move to having a consultation fee.
Once you apply a consultation fee, if you can maintain 3-4 weeks of scheduling people out with the consult fee while maximizing your consultation hours, then you have a mature, strong practice and you should be charging a consultation fee.