How to use price transparency to attract patients

January 3, 2018

Price transparency and sales funnels-what do these have in common?

Editor's Note: Welcome to Medical Economics' blog section which features contributions from members of the medical community. These blogs are an opportunity for bloggers to engage with readers about a topic that is top of mind, whether it is practice management, experiences with patients, the industry, medicine in general, or healthcare reform. The series continues with this blog by Jonathan Kaplan, MD, MPH, a board-certified plasic surgeon based in San Francisco, California. The views expressed in these blogs are those of their respective contributors and do not represent the views of Medical Economics or UBM Medica.

 

Price transparency and sales funnels-what do these have in common? Keep reading and it'll all make sense. I've repeatedly mentioned the importance of price transparency on this blog. And not just price transparency but using price transparency as a lead-generation tool for your medical practice. In other words, how to attract patients so you can capture their contact info (a lead). Now, let me explain how your medical practice fits the sales funnel paradigm just like any business-to-consumer business out there.

 

Sales funnels: an overview

As any business that works directly with consumers knows, much of your time is spent online, generating patient leads. When a consumer arrives to your website, we rely on a call to action to galvanize the consumer to give us their contact info (a lead) in exchange for more information.

 

RELATED READING: 5 ways to increase the value of a medical practice

 

If you imagine a sales funnel like the one above, your business can potentially gather many patient leads and nurture their passage from the top to the bottom of the sales funnel. They may enter your sales funnel at any point. However, initially, everyone starts at the top of the sales funnel. But maybe they started in someone else’s sales funnel before finding your site? Let me explain.

Every consumer initially recognizes a problem they have and then starts looking for an answer to that problem. In a very general sense, they're already progressing through a sales funnel without even knowing it. A commercial or ad makes them realize there's a solution to their problem. This is when they start their research phase (at the top of the funnel). As they do more research, hopefully, they find your website. By then, they may be ready to commit to a medical or cosmetic treatment.

So, while they initially entered the funnel at the top, they could be entering your funnel toward the bottom, ready to "request a specialist" or "book online" as in the funnel diagram below. In other words, by the time they "meet" you or your facility online, they could be ready to make a decision.

Next: Remember, it's a marathon, not a sprint

 

And that's great when someone enters your office or facility ready to book a procedure. That means you caught them at just the right time, toward the bottom of the funnel. But what about everyone else within that sales funnel (as denoted by the '?')? They're still interested in your services. They're still a potential client. So don't dismiss them just because they're not as ready to book at the moment. Eventually, they will be.

 

It's a marathon, not a sprint

There's no better feeling than someone responding to your call to action and booking immediately. But not everyone is there. So even though it may take a consumer longer to make a decision to move forward with treatment at your facility, it's still worthwhile capturing them as early as possible in their journey. As I stated, everyone initially enters the funnel toward the top, at the beginning of their research process. Therefore, it would behoove you to ensure they're entering your funnel at the top, not some other provider. A lead is important, no matter where they are in the funnel. Better to capture and nurture as many leads as possible because eventually, statistically, they'll be paying patients.

 

POPULAR ON OUR SITE: Top 10 challenges facing physicians in 2018

 

So what's the best call to action to capture everyone from the top to the bottom of your funnel? A call to action that taps into everyone's curiosity: how much the procedure costs! That's right. Price transparency, as embodied by a "Get a Quote Now" button ensures that you'll generate a ton of leads for your practice. With this Price Estimator type of call to action, the consumer submits a "wishlist" containing their procedures-of-interest along with their contact info. The consumer immediately receives a cost estimate and the provider receives the consumer's contact info-the lead.

Again, they may not all be ready to book at that very moment. But as I said before, they'll eventually get to the bottom of that funnel so best to know who they are early on. If you have a consumer's email address early in their research phase, you can remarket to them via an email marketing campaign.

Those that need time to decide will eventually move forward. Chances are they'll take the path of least resistance and go to the doctor (you!) whose email newsletter is sitting in their inbox. And even if they still don't come in for treatment, they could forward your email to a family member or friend that's looking for a doctor.

Next: How long will it take to convert a lead?

 

How long will it take to convert a lead?

You have to be willing to capture leads and wait. Certainly, some will convert quickly but most will take time. A recent review of leads from our price transparency website revealed something very interesting. Consumers that submitted three or more "wish lists" to a doctor waited 41.4 days on average between submitting each of their wish lists. Keep in mind, that's the average. The minimum time between pricing inquiries was 10 seconds, while the longest was 3.6 years!

 

FURTHER READING: 10 money mistakes physicians must avoid

 

Regardless, don't kid yourself. Healthcare is more competitive than ever. Resting on your laurels waiting for referrals isn't good enough. More consumers are going out of network and shopping around. Capturing leads is critical to provider success. And hopefully, by now, you'll agree there's no better way to capture leads than through price transparency.

 

Dr. Jonathan Kaplan is a board-certified plastic surgeon based in San Francisco, California, and founder/CEO of BuildMyBod Health, an online marketplace for healthcare services that allows consumers to determine cost on out-of-pocket procedures, purchase non-surgical services, and in exchange, the healthcare providers receive consumer contact info-a lead, for follow up.