The healthcare industry typically views price transparency with disdain and suspicion. But price transparency can be sexy! Price transparency is a bold, seminal way to approach customer service and lead generation.
Why fear price transparency?
Healthcare providers worry about the advent of price transparency for many reasons. It could be the concern that patients will focus on cost rather than the doctor patient relationship. Or worry their competitors will check their pricing and try and undercut them. With various insurance plans and deductibles, it’s considered too difficult to offer actionable pricing insights to the consumer.
All of these concerns are understandable. But they’re also surmountable, as detailed below.
Price transparency is the greatest lead generator
If patients want to price shop, they’ll price shop. We can’t stop that. But by offering price transparency in combination with lead generation, like here, providers can capture the consumer’s contact info in the process of providing automated pricing info. With their contact information, the doctor’s office can follow up with the patient and explain why their practice is a perfect fit for that patient.
Based on this peer-reviewed study, when followed over a year, 17.8% of leads generated through this method (price transparency combined with lead generation) eventually come in for a consultation. And when price-aware consumers come in for consultations, they’re 41% more likely to book a procedure than non price-aware patients. Ostensibly due to the avoidance of sticker shock.
Detractors may say this only works for cosmetic or cash-based procedures. But as the Ohio Surgery Center demonstrates, the consumer can choose their insurance plan, choose their procedure of interest, and then receive a breakdown of the insurance allowable for surgeon, anesthesia and facility fee specific to that procedure and insurance plan.
Price transparency is a customer service opportunity
Consumers have no baseline comparison of the costs of healthcare. They don’t know if an MRI will be $500 or $5000 out of pocket depending on the facility they go to. Not having any baseline for comparison is very crippling for a consumer. It becomes impossible to make a rational financial decision.
Which is why the consumer would be all the more delighted and appreciative to find a doctor that could shed light on the financial options. If a healthcare provider was willing to offer that information in an actionable format, that would be a huge customer satisfier. Which in turn would set the facility apart from the competition.
When you consider that 82% of all calls to a doctor’s office are related to cost of care, it’s clear this is a huge customer service opportunity. It’s an opportunity for the practice to offer the consumer online, easy-to-determine, actionable information on their out of pocket costs. But it’s also an opportunity to help the front desk staff reduce frustration when they’re manually responding and answering calls and inquiries related to cost. Consider the improved efficiencies if the consumer could check pricing online through the practice website, freeing up the office staff for other more pressing tasks.
Price transparency attracts millennials
Figuring out how to attract millennials is the subject of every marketing companies’ email newsletter. The first step to attracting millennials is making useful information available online. As shown in the image below, this particular millennial reached out via Instagram Direct Message to ask about the cost of a procedure.
In the past, doctors would answer this in one of two ways, both incorrect. They’d either say, “you have to come in and be seen before we can provide a cost estimate.” And the other is to give the inquirer a cost estimate without ever determining who they are. But as seen in the example above, this medical practice gave the prospective patient a link to go back to their website to check pricing automatically. This offered the consumer instant gratification and, in turn, a lead for the practice to follow up with.
And remember, one benefit of providing pricing info ahead of time is to reduce sticker shock and increase the conversion rate. Once the millennial (or any potential patient), learns the costs through a doctor’s website, they’re motivated to take the next step: booking an appointment.
The ability to book online is a huge “millennial satisfier.” This example epitomizes the secret to engaging and booking millennial patients: creating an experience that allows them to perform all tasks online until the point they can no longer perform a task online, ie undergoing a procedure, that by its very nature, requires an in-person experience!
In the case above, this patient
- -received automated online pricing information,
- -booked a consult via online booking,
- -had their consultation via FaceTime
- -and booked/paid on the spot.
Be on the right side of history
As physicians, we’re bound to provide the patient with all relevant information so that they can make an informed decision about their healthcare. Cost is relevant. How can we uphold our oath if we knowingly withhold information that could enable our patients to make better financial healthcare decisions?