When consumers make virtually any purchase, the final choice is most often driven by price. They’ll also want quality, suitability for purpose, etc., but once those criteria are satisfied, price can determine where the purchase is made. This has not traditionally been the case with health care.
When it comes to specialty practices, however, they typically serve patients who are either paying for an increasing amount of their own care with high deductible health plans, or are receiving elective services that are entirely out-of-pocket. For both situations, there seems to be a solid case for specialty practices to be more transparent.
As providers in health care look to be more transparent around the cost of care, they may be able to gain a significant competitive advantage. This was the case when a San Francisco plastic surgeon opened a practice in a new city. In creating the website for the new practice, the owner teamed with the developer of a platform for online lead generation and cost estimation. The resulting website made it easy for visitors to submit “wish lists” of procedures and receive free cost estimates for services. Estimates were delivered electronically, with no phone interaction. The only requirement was that the recipient of the estimates had to submit contact information.
A study conducted during the practice’s first year yielded results that may surprise you. Without spending money directing consumers to the website, 208 individuals posted a total of 412 wish lists. 17.8 percent of those individuals came into the office for consultation, and 62 percent of those people booked a procedure. The average procedure cost exceeded $4,000, and in total they generated more than $92,000.
Here’s the most interesting part. In comparing prospects who came to the practice after getting cost estimates to patients who made initial contact without price awareness, the price-aware group was 41 percent more likely to book a procedure.
While this is only one example, providers could take a note from the specialists in health care around how to improve transparency and engagement with patients.