One of the more frustrating aspects of running a medical practice is the constant calls and emails asking about the cost of procedures. This annoys doctors because it makes them feel that their training and expertise accounts for nothing. As though, all that really matters is “how much is this gonna cost me?!” But doctors also need to recognize that just because someone asks about price doesn’t necessarily make them a price shopper.
Two types of price shoppers
When people ask about price, there are those simply calling each office trying to find the cheapest doctor with no regard to quality or certification. Those are the patients doctors supposedly don’t want.
The other type is the person who has a genuine curiosity about price. Just like they wouldn’t go to an open house without knowing the cost of the home, or wouldn’t go to the dealership without knowing the cost of a car, they don’t want to waste their time on a consult if they can’t afford it. This of course, is very reasonable.
But sometimes doctors send mixed messages.
But do doctors really dislike price shoppers?
On the one hand, doctors say they don’t want price shoppers for the reasons stated above. This is also why they don’t list pricing on their website because then it looks like they’re trying to compete on price or indulge the patient by saying, “here’s the cost, that’s all that matters!” (As an aside, I also think simply listing your prices on a menu is a terrible idea because you don’t get any lead generation the way you do from a Price Estimator).
But these same doctors that say they don’t like price shoppers also routinely run specials and other discounted promotions (ie $10 per unit BOO-tox for Halloween, Labor Day specials etc). Well, who do you think is showing up for those discounted treatments? In other words, if you don’t like price shoppers, why are you encouraging their behavior?! If your goal is to weed out price shoppers from your practice, then why weed in price shoppers with specials?
The reason is, doctors need patients. And during traditionally slow parts of the year, doctors have to find a way to bring patients in, so they run specials. Yes, this will result in bringing in some price shoppers. So while a doctor can’t eliminate price shoppers from their practice, they can do a better job differentiating between the price shopper they like vs the price shopper they don’t like.
Automation is key
With so many calls and inquiries about pricing, doctors and their front office staff need to be more efficient in separating out the two different types of price shoppers. The question is how. Automation is synonymous with efficiency.
When a consumer checks pricing through a Price Estimator on the doctor’s website, they can automatically check that doctor’s pricing in exchange for providing their contact information. That contact information syncs into the doctor’s email database for future email marketing. If the patient is serious, then they’ll reach out to the doctor during these remarketing efforts. Certainly the doctor’s office can proactively follow up with the patient as well. This is an excellent way to get as many consumers/future patients into your sales funnel as possible.
The bottom line is that discussing pricing on your website shouldn’t be seen as a strategy that involves competing on price. The strategy is to use price as the “carrot” to capture the consumer’s contact info so you then have the opportunity to follow up and differentiate yourself based on quality, expertise and certification.