[Article Series: An excerpt from a forthcoming book by Mark Tager, MD, and Stewart Gandolf, MBA, for private practice physicians and healthcare administrators about reaching, recruiting and retaining private pay and elective care patients.]
The rising tide of consumerism in healthcare is challenging for both the patient and the physician. The patient is now the freshly minted and newly empowered customer. For many providers, this unfamiliar landscape presents a new opportunity to engage with patients.
Upscale patients in particular are inclined to shop for solid value and service. Doctors—disenchanted with declining reimbursements—want to step off the treadmill. Experienced professionals want to use their training to answer a need in the community, and to create an ethical path to a more satisfying and profitable practice.
Building revenue through ancillary services…
The retail/consumer world is familiar to some doctors, and completely virgin territory for others. Ancillary services, products and elective care options, however, are an appealing benefit to the patient in need, and they support the primary activities of the practice.
Successful engagement happens where the needs and interests of people in the marketplace meet up with your training and expertise, the kinds of cases and patients you enjoy, and your special interests.
Determining which elective services to offer within the scope of your practice is entirely up to you. The list might include:
- Aesthetic services – such as hair, tattoo or birthmark removal, injectables or cosmeceuticals;
- Medically beneficial but not urgent – such as weight loss, allergies, sleep disorders, pain management or GI disorders;
- Focused programs – such as women’s health, sports medicine, nutrition guidance or anti-aging.
12 challenge questions to evaluate new opportunities…
- Is there sufficient market demand for this?
- What’s the current level of competition? Consider the number of competitors, their skill level and their apparent commitment.
- Does the opportunity support your business and personal objectives?
- Do you have (or can acquire) the requisite skills? Delivering new services may require additional clinical, sales, business or other capabilities.
- What’s the learning curve, and do you have time for it?
- Who will be doing the actual work? If you need to hire, what skill sets are required?
- Are you able—and willing—to sell the product or service?
- What are the capital requirements?
- How much additional marketing support (and budget) is required?
- Can you feel comfortable with the risk of a new endeavor?
- How important is this to you? What is the priority and the timetable?
- Will this be cash or reimbursable? How does that impact cash flow?
What’s the clear and present need?
When evaluating prospective products or services, consider the consumer’s mindset about “the need.” The nearly universal truth is that people buy pleasure over prevention. “Someday” doesn’t stand a chance against “here and now.”
The consideration of a “clear and present need” isn’t exclusive to health care. All consumers are far more likely to want and buy products or services that answer an immediate need (pain). The psychology of why people buy says that “prevention” or expectation of a future need (or pleasure) is more difficult to sell and often doesn’t pay as well.
Human nature is more responsive to issues of immediate pain versus prevention.
This article continues with the blog post titled: Seven Principles for Success in Growing Your Healthcare Business.