Recoup the Drugstore Dollars
The last few years have seen a rise in office co-pays, with some going as high as $40. Patients silently express their frustration with this by bucking the system and self-diagnosing their illnesses. They take the $40 in healthcare dollars that they would have spent at a physician’s office and hand it over to Walgreen’s and other drugstores with the hopes that the over-the-counter “weekly special” will cure them.
How can you get your patients to transfer those dollars back to you?
Let’s assume that a good number of these people are your current patients. The most cost effective way to reach these patients is through email marketing. Harris Interactive, an American custom market research company that conducts surveys via phone and online, reports that the number of “Cyberchondriacs” has increased from 110 million in 2002 to 150 million in 2008. Of these 150 million, 86% believe the information that they receive is reliable. For the common cold, it may well be, but there could be major consequences in treating serious conditions without sound, professional direction.
If you’ve been proactive and captured personal email addresses, you’re likely sitting on a veritable goldmine of opportunity. There are a variety of reasons to contact your patients that are non-intrusive and yet remind them that you’re still available for their care.
- An office newsletter: This is a great way to personalize your relationship with your patients and breed loyalty. You can highlight new clinical studies as well as announce the birth of a child to a staff member.
- Seasonal Advice: Talk about allergy testing, asthma control, bug bites and flu season.
- Targeted information regarding a patient’s chronic condition: Remind them how important annual exams and follow ups are to their continued good health.
Another way to keep in touch is via telephone. Contact the patient that never came in for their follow up or the one who no-showed that you just crossed off your schedule and dismissed.
I know what you’re thinking. Who’s going to do all this when our staff is already overworked? Offer an unpaid internship to a student interested in a career in the medical field or hire a service that will write and send your newsletters for a nominal fee.
If you’re wondering if this type of marketing violates HIPPA, fear not. HIPPA has no restrictions for Physicians marketing to current patients about their own products or services. You are only in violation when you do third party advertising.
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