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Opinion of an experienced Plastic Surgery Patient Coordinator: Why we charge for new patient consults

Mary Pasache, Dr. Horton's Plastic Surgery Patient Coordinator

Mary Pasache, Dr. Horton’s Plastic Surgery Patient Coordinator

At the recent ASAPS meeting in San Francisco, I invited my fabulous and experienced Patient Coordinator Mary Pasache to attend the conference with me.  Mary has been a Plastic Surgery Patient Coordinator for the practice (which I joined in 2006 and took over in 2011) for nearly 18 years.

At the #ASAPS14 meeting, Mary attended a Saturday all-day session entitled “Skills for Successful Patient Coordinators” hosted by Karen Zupko, practice management consultant for Plastic Surgeons.

One of the questions posed to the attendees, Patient Coordinators for Board Certified Plastic Surgeons, was “Does your Doctor charge for a new patient consultation, and if not, WHY NOT?”.


Here are Mary’s thoughts about this question, and her opinion about why we DO charge a consultation fee for new patients:

  • Patients are getting an opinion from a rigorously trained, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon.  Dr. Horton has 14 years of surgical experience and nearly 8 years in private practice.  Dr. Horton spent 16 years of university to receive her Bachelor of Science with Honors (4 years), a Masters of Science degree (2 years), 4 years of Medical School, 5 years of Plastic Surgery Residency, and a final year of Fellowship training in Reconstructive Microsurgery.  Just as you expect to pay for an opinion from a plumber, attorney or other consultant, paying a consultation fee for a dedicated 45 minute visit with an extensively trained, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon is certainly worth it!
  • Our patients’ time is valuable and so is our ours.  Our schedule is full just about every single day.  We often book consultations weeks or sometimes months in advance.  Dr. Horton spends up to an hour with a new consultation, and we appreciate the time taken to travel to our office (often from many hours away or another state) to meet with Dr. Horton.  Your time, as a patient, is extremely valuable, and we honor and respect your schedule!  As a Patient Coordinator, I do everything possible to accommodate our patients’ schedules, knowing how valuable their time is.  Likewise, our time is valuable too and we hope our patients also respect our schedule and value their time with us.  
  • Investing in yourself costs money, just like buying a good pair of shoes or getting a designer hair cut.  The saying “you get what you pay for” rings true for Plastic Surgery.  Our office does NOT offer discount deals on certain websites (no names needed – you know the ones…).!  People who are seeking treatment through one of those group discount sites are not looking for value or expertise – they are merely “looking for a deal”.  We strive to attract good quality patients:  women and men who are seeking Board Certification, surgical expertise from Dr. Horton, her artistry and aesthetic eye, a boutique office environment and a positive experience in our San Francisco Plastic Surgery office.  Our patients truly become patients for life, and are valued, loyal members of our ‘extended family’.  New patients find us online, from Facebook, Twitter or Google+, or are referred directly to Dr. Horton office through family members or friends, from previous patients of Dr. Horton, or through trusted Family Doctors, OB-GYNs, Internists, or ancillary health professionals.  
  • The consulation fee is applied to  a procedure, should the new patient decide to schedule surgery.  Not all Plastic Surgery practices offer to apply this fee forward to their patients.  We appreciate that our patients are on a budget, and we respect their finances.  Most of our patients do indeed choose to schedule surgery with Dr. Horton, so their consultation fee is applied directly to their surgery, providing them with a discount, and making it worth their while!  
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Dr. Karen Horton, internationally Board Certified Plastic Surgeon, interviewing a patient in her office

To learn more about our office and what to expect at your Plastic Surgery consultation, visit Dr. Horton’s website, view her BEFORE & AFTER PHOTO GALLERY to see surgical results, and contact us online to schedule a consultation with Dr. Horton today!  

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Dr. Karen M. Horton, M.D. - Plastic Surgery, Physicians & Surgeons - Medical-M.D., San Francisco, CA