Many of us in healthcare provide patient service not covered by medical insurance companies. Lack of coverage and patient mindset that all medical care services should be covered can sometimes be a challenge to overcome. How can I get patients to value a non-covered service enough to pay out of pocket for it?
Demonstrate value to that particular patient
First, one must demonstrate value to that particular patient. It may be how the service rendered will ultimately save the patient money or time. If it can be shown that by not purchasing the service, valuable personal time will be lost or that there will be monetary costs, increased prescription or medical costs, time away from work, etc., the patient will be more likely to purchase the service. Another approach used extensively is a vanity or "insecurity" approach. Examples of these are dental implants, breast augmentation, tooth whiteners and the like. Selling of these types of services requires convincing the patient purchaser that they may reap social rewards from appearance. Maybe help them look more presentable in a job interview or more attractive to the opposite gender.
Develop an interpersonal relationship with patients
Second, it is important to develop an interpersonal relationship with the patient purchaser. Some refer to this as relationship marketing. People feel better about purchasing services if they feel a connection with the provider of the service. Call it bedside manner, personal interaction, or sincere interest in them as a person or individual. Generally, people don't like to feel like someone is selling them something. The soft sell is usually the best approach. Establish rapport early in the contact with the patient, whether it be over the telephone or in person. Smile when speaking with the prospective patient and be upbeat. Humor is an excellent ice breaker and helps one to connect with the patient. It is important thought to "read" the patient as to whether this approach will work so if possible, try to identify early in the contact the emotional mindset of the patient. This will lead you on where to go in the relationship. Once the relationship is established and patient needs are identified, then is the time to promote the service and its value to the patient. By establishing a relationship, you now know the needs or wants of the patient and what they may value in the service provided. Now you can place the service in the context of patient needs and address them with a better chance of success in the patient purchasing the service.
Make the point that the purchase includes professional time
Finally, many who may purchase a service don't think about the fact they are paying for professional time even if they are a service professional themselves. If the point is made that their purchase includes professional time similar to paying an attorney, auto mechanic, or hair dresser, they will better understand that there are human costs involved with their purchase and be possibly more agreeable as to the purchase of the service. After the above has been completed, the time now is to get the purchaser to act. Ask to schedule them for an appointment.
Medical care is a relationship business. The better the personal relationship bond, the more likely a patient purchaser is to pay out of pocket for a non-covered service.
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