Recently we covered the issue of marketing your medical practice to Millenials, the biggest generation group in human history. That got us thinking – what about the other generation groups? We know that they have vastly different needs and wants, but healthcare services are a must for pretty much everyone.
How does medical marketing differ from one group to the next, and what can you do to make your services appeal specifically to each group? Let’s consider the Baby Boomers, for example, which is the group currently reaching retirement age.
The millennial generation is already the biggest cohort in the history of humanity. Fact– Depending on the source you use, there are presently between 78 million and 80 million millennials in the U.S. For your practice to include millennial patients in the future, you need to target them specifically in your strategy, and “one-size-fits-all” healthcare marketing strategies simply won’t work. Here are some vital facts to help you identify how to approach them.
Fact #1: Millenials are Educated and Privileged
Born roughly between 1980 and 2000, they are widely considered the most privileged and best-educated group ever to have inhabited the earth – so far, anyway. Millennials have had access to health care since birth, many have never known poverty or hardship and most are literate, with a whopping 70% expected to attain a college degree. They are also more knowledgeable about their health, having grown up in a time when their education included sex education and open debate on issues such as smoking and abortion.
Fact #2: Millenials are Weight- and Health-Conscious
Last December I wrote about what I thought would be the “Big Idea” for healthcare in 2013 as a part of the LinkedIn Influencer program. “Show me the fees!” I said. Well, they have – in fact, much more than I would have ever imagined. 2013 has seen an explosion in pricing transparency in healthcare – or maybe better said, charging transparency in healthcare. More about that later, but for now, let’s take a look at what 2013 has held so far.
In March, Time Magazine printed Steven Brill’s article “Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us” (paywall), a lengthy and much talked-about expose on how hospital bills are calculated. The villain of the story is the “chargemaster”, an ethereal list of prices that hospitals are wary of discussing. The prices in the chargemaster are very high, and few people are expected to pay them, but they are the basis for negotiations with insurance companies and other payers. Uninsured patients however, are left to pay full price – unless they ask for a discount. In effect then, the people with the least ability to pay are asked to pay the most for hospital services, and without health insurance, medical bankruptcy can be a side effect of catastrophic illness or injury.
In May, admittedly in part because of the Times story, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a massive data set of hospital charges for common inpatient procedures. It’s important to keep these “charges” in perspective – they are not the amount the government paid hospitals for services to Medicare patients, and they are not what patients with health insurance are expected to pay. They are the starting point – the opening in a negotiation with everyone from an insurance company to an uninsured individual. The only difference is that insurance companies know it and start negotiating right away – they have binding contracts for the amount they’ll actually pay (the “allowable”), and the chargemaster price never comes up. Steven Brill called the release “a great first step.” CMS has now also released the same figures for the most common outpatient procedures.
Two weeks ago, California’s new state health insurance exchange released the initial premiums that insurance companies have filed for plans on the state Health Insurance Exchange (HIX.) Individual premiums will vary based on location, but in general, uninsured Californians now have a sense of what their coverage will cost in 2014, not only in premiums, but in co-pays at visits. The exchanges will also be a single-stop for those seeking coverage to find out if they qualify for federal subsidies or Medicaid or CHIP benefits. To participate in the exchanges, insurance plans have to offer comparable levels of coverage, and compete against each other in front of the customer.
The common theme in all of these situations is a lack of information. Information is critical to a functioning economy of any kind. How could you shop for anything without knowing the features and price of the product? But healthcare is a very special case economically, and the market operates differently. If you have sudden chest pain, or receive a traumatic injury, you are going to the closest emergency room – period. You have no time to shop around for price or quality. You dial three numbers and you go with the paramedics. Some situations – elective, and non-urgent surgeries, primary care, obstetrics, etc… involve a great deal of choice, but the patient still lacks comprehensive, accessible price and quality information. We can’t make emergencies something to shop around for, but we can introduce the information and the tools to allow consumers to shop for services to improve their health AND financial outcomes.
I had the pleasure of participating in a Google Hangout last week with Pediatric Practice Business Director and Consultant Brandon Betancourt who blogs at PediatricInc and Chip Hart, who is the Director of Strategic Marketing and Sales Director at Physicians Computer Company (Chip’s blog is here) and a Pediatric Medical Practice Consultant. If these two guys don’t have the answers to any pediatric practice management question you have, they’ll know where to find it!
They kindly stepped out of the pediatric-specific world to talk with me about a range of practice management topics that apply to all specialties, including what I think are imperatives for physician practices today.
If you haven’t seen any of Brandon and Chip’s previous hangouts, you can see them all here.
If you haven’t participated in a Google Hangout yet, you should try it. It’s a great (free) way to hold a meeting with a number of people (you + 10 others) in different locations and it can be broadcast live to others, or recorded as this one is for others to watch later. I call it a Virtual Panel Discussion!
At Manage My Practice, we are big proponents of the credit card on file system as a road to financial viability. This program changes your patient collections from a back-end collection program to a front-end collection program, effectively collecting 95% of the patient responsibility within 45 days of the service.
In a credit card on file (we abbreviate it “CCOF”) program, the patient’s credit card information is securely stored off-site so that co-pays, co-insurance, deductibles, non-covered services, and balances after insurance has paid can be charged to the card automatically. In addition, payment plans can be arranged using the CCOF program, allowing patient payments to be automatically drafted on a schedule agreed to by patient and practice.
Our clients have had so much success with CCOF that we now offer monthly webinars. The webinar features a 60-minute presentation on implementing the program in your practice, as well as an action pack of forms and handouts to get you started. Click HERE to see our scheduled webinars.
To get an idea of how the program works, let’s compare the standard office process with a CCOF system.
Last month the Obama Administration released the standard application form that will be used to apply to the Affordable Care Act’s new health insurance exchanges. Applications will be accepted starting October 1, 2013 for coverage through the exchanges that will begin January 1, 2014. The first things you’ll notice about the forms – they’re short. Traditionally forms for health insurance coverage have averaged around 20 pages or so – the new individual short form is only 3 pages (plus a cover sheet and an appendix if you get a preparer’s help). If you are also seeking coverage for family members, the form balloons to 7 pages – still 2/3 less paper work than usual. The forms are designed to be a one-stop entry to not only the insurance exchange marketplaces but also to tax credits for eligible enrollees and to Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) programs for those who qualify. From the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services press release:
“Consumers will have a simple, easy-to-understand way to apply for health coverage later this year,” said CMS Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner. “The application for individuals is now three pages, making it easier to use and significantly shorter than industry standards. This is another step complete as we get ready for a consumer-friendly marketplace that will be open for business later this year.” (more…)
Mary Pat and I had the pleasure recently of being introduced to Ron De Santo and his team at SelectOrtho DME. We are always excited to hear about new products and services bringing win-win solutions to physician practices and patients. SelectOrtho’s turnkey solution for in-office brace fitting is a way for the physician practice to add ancillary services while providing quality service to patients. As a changeup from our regular “10 Question” format, we thought it might be fun to do a video interview and Ron De Santo graciously agreed.
Mary Pat’s Interview with Ron De Santo of SelectOrtho DME Part 1 of 2
Our next Credit Card on File Webinar will be Thursday, June 6th at 3 p.m. EST. If you want to improve your practice’s cash flow in just one hour, sign up now as seats are going fast!
We’ve had such a great response to our Credit Card on File Webinars that we are running another session. We hope you will join us! Click here to register!
How to Cut Your Medical Practice’s A/R and Collection Costs in Just 60 Minutes.
We know patients are bearing more of the financial burden for healthcare, particularly in the form of High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs), so it falls to the provider to collect the deductibles. How can you collect deductibles, co-pays and co-insurance, as well as electronically manage patient payment plans while reducing the associated labor and resource expense? Register for the Manage My Practice webinar that teaches you everything you need to know to spend less and collect more at time of service by implementing a Credit Card on File Program in your practice.
What is a Credit Card on File Program?
A Credit Card on File (CCOF) Program facilitates the collection of a credit or debit card from each patient and requires this card to be used for co-pays, co-insurance and deductibles. You have the option of collecting an estimate of what is due at time of service, and/or charging the credit card when the payer pays the claim.
What are the benefits of a Credit Card on File Program?
Reduced days in accounts receivable.
Improved cash flow.
Elimination of statements.
Electronic management of payment plans.
Elimination of bounced checks.
Elimination of the manual refund process and refund check expense.
Reduced labor in daily reconciliation process.
Elimination of cash drawers and change issues.
Reduction or elimination of deposits.
Facilitate faster check-in and check-out.
Elimination of paper receipts.
Elimination of collections expense.
This one-hour webcourse with accompanying materials is an incredible value at $59.95
What will I learn if I take this webinar?
1. Understand how a credit card on file program differs from traditional payment options offered by practices. 2. Learn the terminology and protocols of credit card processing – it’s not as mysterious as it seems! 3. Compare credit card processing fees and choose a vendor based on an informed analysis. 4. Utilize handouts to train staff and educate patients on the credit card on file program. 5. Successfully implement a credit card on file program.
What does the program include?
Purchase of this program for only $59.95 includes the live webinar, slide handouts, and a complete Action Pack of forms and templates in Word, including: 1. Worksheet for Credit Card on File Program Return on Investment (ROI) 2. Staff Script & Role Playing Suggestions for Staff Training 3. Sample Security Policy to Comply With PCI Guidelines 4. Credit Card on File Program Timeline Worksheet 5. Credit Card Program Comparison Worksheet 6. Patient Handout #1: Information About Our Credit Card on File Program & Discontinuation of Statements 7. Patient Handout #2: What is a Deductible and How Does It Affect Me? 8. Sample Patient Agreement for the Credit Card on File Program
June, 6th 2013 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern/ 12:00 p.m. Central/ 11:00 a.m. Mountain/ 10:00 a.m. Pacific – Click here to register!
The only thing better than finding a great report, tool, or piece of information on the web is sharing it with our readers so that they can put it to work themselves. Here are some of the “treasures” that I’ve been pointed towards recently that have found places in my bookmarks folder. We hope you’ll find them useful too!
Disclosure: We use and believe in Box at Manage My Practice and we are Certified Box Resellers. More information here.
Box, a California cloud file sharing and content management service has announced new partners and investments in the healthcare industry. Makers of software for clinical documentation, care coordination, interoperability and access to care will integrate tightly with Box’s existing platform to make sharing data from their software even easier. The platform partners announced were: EHR DrChrono, dental PM system Umbie Dentalcare, secure messaging apps TigerText and Medigram, provider social network Doximity, telehealth platform Healthtap, image viewers iMedViewer and iPaxera, record release app Medi-Copy and finally posture analysis app Posture Screen Mobile. In addition to announcing the new platform partners, Box also announced an early-seed investment in DrChrono to help the software make medical data viewable in Box. Box also added former Google Health director Missy Krasner to help their push into healthcare. Krasner sees her work with Box as “picking up where Google Health left off“.