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Consumer Intelligence: Hard Questions for Concierge Practice Marketing

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

doctor is on his wayA recent article in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) put forward the challenge questions for consumers, “Is Paying for 'Concierge' Health Care Worth It? What to Ask Before Signing Up for a High-End Plan.”

With the nation’s healthcare delivery system changing, the thoughtful article [here] was intended to inform prospective patients about the growing number of primary care physicians that have switched to retainer-based practices. In addition, the article posed several questions that a consumer (potential buyer) should be asking...and that's good concierge practice marketing intelligence.

Here are the “you-should-ask” questions and some of the concierge practice marketing considerations that follow.

Q: Is this right for me?

Concierge Practice Marketing Implication: Not everyone wants you, and you don’t want everyone. Only a narrow and precisely defined target audience will need, want or afford individualized healthcare services at a premium. Understanding the demographics and psychographics within your service area is a critical first consideration. And your marketing and advertising plan needs to be “rifle shot,” not “scattergun.”

Q: Will you take my insurance?

Marketing Implication: An individual’s health insurance may or may not cover services and some concierge practices may or may not accept insurance. Your marketing message needs to be clear about insurance, but even clearer about the benefits that are included in the concierge services.

Q: What happens if I get sick while I'm out of town, or while you're on vacation?

Marketing Implication: Doctor’s vacations are nothing new, and typically covered by referrals or another doc. When the patient is out of the area, however, your office will be well served to anticipate this question, have a procedure in place and let prospective patients know what to expect in advance. As the WSJ article observes, “Some doctors promise to be available all the time by phone or email, even if they are traveling themselves.”

Q: Do you make house calls?

Marketing Implication: Consumers are likely to see the availability of “house calls” as a significant benefit and strong point of differentiation. If your practice provides this service, it may be a major selling point in advertising.

Q: What if I change my mind or don't like the service?

Marketing Implication: The prospective patient that asks this question may not be convinced that a concierge medical provider is right for them. (See the first question.) But every patient needs to be satisfied that they are receiving value for their investment. Additional or included benefits, such as an ongoing fitness or wellness program, can keep patients engaged and connected with the practice.

Readers of the Wall Street Journal are often more affluent individuals who are willing or able to pay an annual premium for value-added healthcare. But here's our previous post about concierge practice marketing in a blue collar area.

With both physicians and patients concerned about healthcare reform and maintaining the quality of care, the number of concierge practices—estimated at over 4,000—is likely to continue to grow.

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