Due to the major changes in consumer behavior inspired by the Internet, patients too have become savvy "shoppers" when it comes to the healthcare choices and decisions they have power over.
Not only do they surf the web in search of products, services, and procedures that are best suited for their needs, or the needs of their loved ones, they want to know about other keyelements before they invest their time and money. One such element they care about is pricing.
Insurance coverage is, as medical practices are reminded everyday, extremely complex. For patients, not only is it complex, but it also often limits their choices. This creates anxiety about how much their healthcare expenses will actually run, in the long haul.
If you can help them negotiate these challenges by offering transparency about your pricing on your medical website, you may find you are better equipped to build patient trust.
But you need to be willing to share what you charge. Are you?
The reasons why it can be difficult to practice price transparency
Lots of doctors are squeamish about revealing prices for products, services, and procedures.
Here are 3 reasons why a medical practice may balk at sharing pricing information with patients:
Pricing depends on protocols determined by insurance carriers, which vary radically from one another. If a patient has private insurance, or if they are part of an insurance group, or if they receive federal coverage, pricing will be different. In addition, there are huge differences when it comes to deductibles, co-pays, and other aspects of insurance coverage. Finally, cash pay options may add an additional element to the discussion that patients may not even be aware of.
Fear that their competition will find out. If they do, they might undercut their prices to lure new patients away from your practice.
Fear of scaring away new patients. People looking for your services may consider your prices, decide they are cost prohibitive, and look elsewhere.
But here's the thing. Patients want to know what they will pay, and if you don't provide them with that information, they may "bounce" from your website to your competition. If your competitor posts their prices, those patient prospects may actually be more inclined to follow through by reaching out to them, instead of you, because of it.
How to practice price transparency
It's not as hard as you might think.
In fact, posting your prices on your website is useful not only for potential patients, but for current ones researching products, services, and procedures for friends and family.
Here are some ways to practice transparent pricing on your website:
It doesn't matter if you can't be specific all the time. If you take the time to explain a range of fees per procedure or service, offer price lists of products for sale or lease, and clarify in plain language the variables which can influence pricing, you participate in their decision-making process by educating them. Even ballpark figures are more transparent than no prices at all.
This kind of transparency shows you know what they care about and that you are willing to help them make the most informed healthcare decisions they can. That's not necessarily a measurable benefit, but it does gain their trust. And what doctor doesn't want to treat well-informed, empowered patients?
If you think reimbursement protocols are difficult to manage, imagine what it's like for a patient navigating the healthcare system. The continuum of care can be a very frustrating journey for many patients. Helping them is always better than the alternative.
Don't worry about the competition. The truth is, they already know what you charge (or should). Don't you know what your competitors charge? You should.
In any case, what you charge may be higher or lower than a competitor for good reasons; make sure that, when you lay out your transparent pricing online, you anticipate questions about why your pricing is higher and lower. Patients will appreciate the honesty, a desirable result of pricing transparency.
Patients may truly have limited resources. Don't let that keep you from sharing your prices.
It's better for a patient to make up their mind about what they are willing to pay, based on honesty about your pricing, than it is to leave them in the dark, only to find out later that, after they've reached out to you, they discovered they couldn't afford what you offer.
Another consideration: Moments of frustration with healthcare may leave them wanting for a scapegoat. These days, the healthcare industry has much to gain in the way of public perception. Feeding the angst doesn't help.
You're better off being up front about pricing so you don't waste their time (or yours) when they can't afford your services, and so that you don't later feel the burn of their frustration somewhere online in a review.
How does Zero Moment of Truth factor into price transparency?
The Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) in medical marketing is defined as the moment when a patient has decided to make a purchasing decision after they've done their research.
In the case of patients seeking to purchase products or set up an appointment for a service or procedure, the reality is that more than 70 percent of them have already vetted you online.
If you provide transparent pricing on your website, and one of those 70 percent comes along, discovers it, and find that it fits their budget, they are more likely to follow through in joining your patient base. Hello, conversion!
However, if you don't provide pricing on your website, many of those 70 percent will simply consider another practice which does.
That leaves you with only a 30 percent slice of total potential patients knocking on your door, and when you do finally deliver pricing information to them, many may still not sign on as new patients.
What odds do you like better?
Final analysis: It's all about trust
Why is it so important to share such specific kinds of information to appeal to prospective patients?
If you are willing to be transparent about costs, potential patients may or may not sign up for your services, but they will leave with a favorable impression of your medical practice because you were honest and forthright with them. That impression could inspire them to recommend your services to their friends and family, even if they never convert.
However, if you tap dance about prices, you can be sure of one thing: lack of clarity about your costs will not leave the same favorable impression. Instead, these patients may leave your website frustrated, feeling as if you have something to hide. This is practically a guarantee they won't convert or recommend your practice to others.
Welcome to the new trust landscape
The arguments against transparent pricing, as it turns out, aren't really arguments at all.
Building patient trust is an ongoing challenge for physician groups and medical practices. Your inbound marketing strategy should always have, at its core, the goal of building trust with existing and prospective patients.
Transparent pricing is one effort you can make toward achieving this goal.
If you can overcome the insecurity of sharing your price lists with transparency, you are certain to gain the trust of potential new patients, which is a major part of what inbound marketing for medical practices is all about.
Learning the ropes of inbound marketing can be a bit of a challenge. Where to begin? What to do first? We can help you with that; simply download our free inbound medical marketing handbook below to learn how you can get started.