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Clinic Accelerator Blog

How To Use Extended Health Benefits Trends to Attract New Patients (and keep them coming back)

Posted by Rick Lau on Feb 10, 2016 4:00:00 PM

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I recently went for a massage therapy session and it was awesome to see how this clinic offered direct billing for the massage therapy session from blue cross and green shield. As I sat in the waiting room, I heard at least 3 other patients ask about this service and how they could get enrolled.

This clinic was also using new technologies to make it easier for patients. They were using Jane App to make it super easy to book appointments online - zero hassles for me (and other patients).

This got me thinking about 2 things:

  1. How clinic owners could use extended health benefits more effectively
  2. How being innovative with marketing and selling products can attract more patients

Like most employers, at CSC, we offer health benefits for our staff.  It's a cost that is expensive but we see it as an investment. We want our staff to be healthy and happy so they can take care of our customers. And, after my massage appointment, as I was submitting my paperwork with Sunlife so I could get reimbursed, I started reading the fine print - which I found very interesting.

Using the CSC extended health plan as an example, I wanted to share what typical things are included, what I learned out of this experience, and exactly why it is so important to clinic owners and clinicians.

More than that I'm going to show you how you can use extended health benefits trends to attract new patients, and, more importantly, keep them coming back over and over again.

Health Coverage Example

At CSC we have a private employer health plan that offers extended health benefits and here are some of the typical things it covers - which are generally included in most people’s private health care plans.

1) Paramedical Services

Back in the ‘olden’ days, most plans had $500 for each health speciality. But today this isn’t the case. It’s now more like a flex plan with an allocated amount across a variety of health specialities.

Our cover includes a maximum of $750 per annum that will cover only 80% of the below services:  

  • Acupuncture
  • Audiologist
  • Chiropodist
  • Chiropractor
  • Coagulotherapy
  • Massage Therapist
  • Naturopath
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Osteopath
  • Physiotherapy
  • Podiatrist
  • Podiatrist Surgery
  • Radiotherapy
  • Registered Dietician
  • Speech Therapy

2) Healthcare Products - Tens machine/ muscle stimulator

100% covered with no limits and non deductible. These medical supplies/equipment are covered only when medically necessary and ordered by a doctor. Coverage includes equipment rented, or purchased at our request.

3) Medical Equipment - Braces

100% covered with no limits and non deductible.These medical supplies are covered only when medically necessary and ordered by a doctor.

4) Orthopaedic Supplies - Orthotics Devices

100% covered, non deductible, maximum $400 for every 3 years. Coverage includes custom-made orthotic inserts for shoes when prescribed by a doctor, podiatrist, or chiropodist.

5) Orthopaedic Supplies - Pressure Gradient Hose

100% covered, non deductible, maximum of 4 pairs per year. These medical supplies are covered only when medically necessary and ordered by a doctor. Coverage includes pressure gradient hose.

As you can see, there are a lot of things your patients are covered for with their private health care plans. But at the same time there is something critically important to consider as a healthcare practitioner or clinic owner. Something that you may have overlooked in this mix - marketing!

Why Clinic Marketing Is Critically Important To Keeping Patients

Health care plans have changed quite dramatically over the years.

There used to be a maximum coverage "by professional," but as we saw in the practitioner coverage above, now there is generally a maximum for "all professionals."

Just like CSC, most companies are switching to this type of coverage for their employees because it saves on their insurance rates by 10% annually. What this means is that most patients have a maximum of $750 to spend annually for the wide variety of paramedical services available.

While this is good for patients - giving them a much larger choice, and practitioners - many more now being able to provide rebates, it also means something else - A LOT OF COMPETITION!

This has now become a MARKETING GAME and relies on how well your clinic is marketing, acquiring leads, and converting those leads into regular patients.  

Back in the ‘old’ days, if you owned a physiotherapy clinic, you were only competing with other physiotherapy clinics. Now you are competing against all of the above professionals - each of them claiming to ‘fix back pain and make you feel better.'

Because the choice lies with the patient - they can choose which health professional they want to see. So as a clinic or clinician you have to stand out of the crowd.

It’s also wise if you can help the patient by showing them how to navigate their health coverage and get the most out of everything covered.

Offer Complete Care

Clinics need to start innovating and looking at the complete solution for their patient's care. This includes providing great services and selling products. And, why wouldn't you do this if it's paid 100% by the insurance companies.

For example, the CSC plan covers:

As a health practitioner, you can take advantage of this, for your patients, and demonstrate how a TENs machine can help their chronic back pain, spasms, or nerve problems - giving them added value at no extra cost.

Here’s the thing, I’ve got extensive experience in consulting with clinic owners in my Clinic Accelerator Program. I’ve got a thirst to learn marketing techniques and apply them to the treatment rooms, and with operational experience in managing over 200 physiotherapists, massage therapists, and chiropractors over the past 10 years, I know how important marketing and selling products are to your bottom line.

Yet most clinicians resist selling products because they don’t like to ‘sell.’

Sure, I get that. But you’re doing yourself (and your patients) a disservice.

If you’re helping the patient, it’s not really ‘selling.’

Patients want to get better. If they need additional support by the means of some product and they don’t get it from you, they will likely get it from somewhere else, and no doubt a cheap brand that doesn’t work and leaves them no better with their recovery.

Is this going to increase their patient satisfaction and leave them happy?

No.

You need to make sure patients love your clinic by constantly finding ways to innovate and make their experience better.

And the thing is, majority of patients want to get the most out of their health insurance - it’s there for their use after all, so help them use it appropriately when needed.

OutThink Your Competitors

Without a doubt, the health benefits trend is a marketing game. So what are you doing to outthink your competitors in marketing?

You can never stop marketing!

 

 
Outsmart Your Competitors in Physiotherapy & Chiropractic Marketing

Learn how I can help you. Click Here...

 

Patients are utilizing paramedical practitioner services more.

In fact, Great-West Life’s trend study showed:

“A 170% increase in the percentage of plan members using massage therapy compared to 10 years earlier….That 88% of plan members used a healthcare service at some point in the year compared with 78% of plan members 10 years earlier. The same study indicated a near 50% increase in the number of covered healthcare services accessed each year per plan member as well as a 116% increase in the average annual cost per claim per employee compared to 10 years earlier.”

That’s an incredible growth in massage therapy trends right?

While this is all great news for practitioners because it means people do want your services. It also means people have a wider choice so this absolutely is a marketing game.

Encourage Patients To Use Their Product Purchases

As I pointed out above, patients have a variety of products available to them for recovery - at zero cost to them.

Most of the time patients are completely unaware of this, so it's up to you to educate them about these benefits and encourage them to use it.

For example, the CSC plan covers:

There are many different injuries where the patient is going to reap the rewards of having a good product to support their recovery.

For example, back pain is one of the most common complaints, with 85% of adults experiencing it at some stage or another. In this instance, could your patient gain some back support while they are at work by having a comfortable back brace.

Yes they could.

So help them take advantage of their health insurance and recommend a product suited to their needs.

And like I mentioned earlier, TENs machines can be beneficial for almost everyone.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you don't need to keep lots of inventory on hand. This is commonly something that prevents clinic owners from selling products. If you find a good supplier, like CSC, we offer an 'order on demand' service - meaning when your patient needs a product, you order direct while the patient is at their appointment, they pay for the product and we ship it out to you. No minimum purchase. No inventory required.

When you have this type of service available to you, there really is no excuse to offering those products as options to your patients. Since they don't have to pay out any extra cost, they are going to happily accept and thank you for the optimum level of service.

It's a win/win situation.

Here's the thing, if your clinic doesn't start doing more marketing and offering complete care (including selling more beneficial products to your patients), then other professionals will - leaving you for dust. You don’t want that.

My feeling is that in the next few years, you will see kinesiologists added to this list and that will shake things up even more for paramedical practitioners.

If you start investing in better marketing now, start adding the sale of required products into your regular treatment routine, you will always stay ahead of the competition. And, as you can see, you really need to.

 

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