With all the talk of price transparency and comparisons, it might seem like patients are beginning to “shop around” for healthcare. However, that’s not actually the case. Most patients choose their practice or provider for any number of reasons, but they aren’t shopping around — or at least not yet.
It’s likely that this trend will change and more patients will begin to shop around as price transparency (and rising healthcare costs) go into effect. If you haven’t already planned a marketing strategy around this new way of seeking care, now is the time to do so. We’ve put together some guidelines for ways providers can market to consumers who are more likely to shop around.
Know Your Audience
Before you create your marketing strategy, it’s important to know who your audience is. Younger generations are typically more likely to want to shop around for their healthcare and be budget-conscious. They are already starting to shop around, looking for pricing information in apps and on the Internet.
It’s important to note that some patients, though, simply want to know price information to inform their budgeting, and they don’t actually use the information to make decisions.
Make it Simple
Healthcare bills aren’t necessarily associated with the idea of “simple,” which is partially what makes them frustrating — and what’s fueling the call for price transparency. The easier your bills, pricing and estimates are to read and understand, the more likely patients are to fulfill their financial responsibilities. Similarly, they are more likely to have a more positive experience, which will keep them coming back.
Obviously, one price does not fit all when it comes to medical procedures, but if you can create a chart for patients to look at or an interactive calculator on your website that can generate a clearly-defined price estimate, you can stand out from your competitors. Take it from Dallas-based Baylor who created a cost-estimator tool for the health system’s services, thus helping patients make informed decisions about their care.
Highlight the Benefits
If your prices are comparable to or lower than your competitors, make it known. Patients are looking for budget-friendly numbers, and they’re even willing to travel or go to a less-prestigious practice to save some money. If you can appeal to that, do so.
However, if you know your prices are on the higher side, make sure you have something to highlight almost as a form of justification. Convenience or a fancy name isn’t enough to make patients choose a higher-priced procedure. For example, do you have a unique patient engagement platform for easy post-visit conversations? This tool could be a selling point to busy millennials who might be concerned about side effects.
Focus on Patient Loyalty
The best way to expand your market share and attract more patients is to take great care of the patients you already have. Satisfied patients can be your best advocates, and people want to listen to the input and advice of their loved ones. Many people, millennials included, will choose a higher-priced item or service if their friends or family tell them it’s worth it. The same applies to healthcare.
In PatientBond’s 2018 Consumer Diagnostic, a national market research study on healthcare consumers, respondents were asked whether or not they agreed with this statement: I’ll spend whatever it takes to be healthy. Nearly all respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement except for Gen X and Baby Boomers, which are more indifferent. So even if the care is expensive, they are willing to pay for it if it’s good and keeps them healthy.
Serve your patients well, whether that means informing them about upcoming wellness events or providing new entertainment options in the waiting area. And remember to keep things simple. Give your patients an easy way to contact you, request prescription refills, schedule their appointments and pay their bills. The easier and more convenient things are for them, the more satisfied — and more loyal — they will be.
Also, take a look at your patients’ experiences and make sure they’re everything you want them to be. Are you creating personalized messages that appeal to your patients from their first interaction with your office through the most recent follow-up message? Using a technique like psychographic segmentation can help you interact with your patients in a way that resonates with them. Every touchpoint creates an opportunity to improve patient loyalty.
As price transparency continues to grow, it’s becoming more important for your practice to find a way to stand out from the crowd and appeal to patients who might compare services at different facilities. By showing your prices in an easily understandable way, explaining your benefits and creating an exceptional patient experience, you can improve your market share and increase patient loyalty.
For more the relationship between psychographic segmentation, market share and patient loyalty, download our case study.