Did you know that fifty-percent of patients who have selected a provider will seek a second opinion? That means that fifty-percent of the people who chose your hospital will want information from another hospital or physician. It also means that fifty-percent of the people who chose a hospital other than yours will be seeking a second opinion, which means many of them will be contacting your institution.
However you do the math, seeking a second opinion means that over the course of the year your hospital will be hearing from as many as tens of thousands of people seeking a second opinion. And what is the question they are really trying to answer? They are trying to answer the question—should I buy my healthcare for this situation from your hospital?
For a moment, let’s consider the officer of the Chief Financial Officer. That person’s job is to make sure that the amount of money coming in is greater than the amount of money going out. If we look first at the going out side, it becomes apparent that the CFO wants to minimize spending money on activities that do not create a corresponding inflow of cash.
Patient acquisition costs are one of those gray areas because marketing and business development spend lots and lots of money trying to attract new patients. And what makes that exercise difficult for the CFO is that nobody on the planet can tell the CFO what it costs to acquire a single patient. In fact, nobody can even tell you if the money spent on business development and marketing even reaches breakeven.
Add to that fact the fact that fifty-percent of patients who are scheduled to buy services from your institution are wondering if they made the right purchase decision. If they choose to go elsewhere, what you have are your patients making a decision not to be your patients. They are making a decision that makes the CFO’s job more difficult because a great deal of money that would have been collected never even gets billed. This is turn means that the people in business development and marketing have to kick it up a notch to replace all of those people who will be going elsewhere.
On the good side of the balance sheet though are all of the people scheduled for treatment at all of the other providers, people who may seek a second opinion from your hospital.
What is your point, you ask.
Allow me to use simple numbers so neither of us has to use a calculator—you can substitute your own figures. If your hospital sees 20,000 patients a year, and half of them (10,000) seek second opinions, what if half of them (5,000) went somewhere else? Let’s assume an average total treatment amount of $10,000 per patient. That amounts to $50,000,000 that just walked away from your organization, most of it without the organization’s knowledge, or a plan in place to prevent the loss, or a visible vehicle to help patients to choose to stay with you.
Knowing that the other hospitals in the area are undergoing the same process, your hospital has the chance to capture revenues from the other hospitals. Whether you get your fair share of those revenues is a bit of a crapshoot since your hospital does not know that those people are looking elsewhere, it does not have a plan in place to capture those individuals, and it does not have a visible vehicle in place to help those patients choose your hospitals.
From the way I see it, these numbers reflect a potential revenue swing of as much as $100,000,000.
It would be easy to find fault with the math, or the variables, but somewhere in this argument are free revenues.
So my point is, why not at least have a big, blinking link on the hospital’s home page along with a plan along with resources and along with a phone number to address:
- If you are thinking of going elsewhere, let us tell you why you should stay with us
- If you are thinking of leaving your provider and coming here, let us tell you why we are a good choice
This seems to be a much more effective way of keeping and attracting people you know need to purchase services now, than the approach of putting up a billboard with a picture of the urology group in the hope that they may become patients later.
I went to the websites of several well-known hospitals. None of them offered help for second opinions.
The average person probably does not know the first step about how to go about getting a second opinion—who do I call, what will it cost, will my insurance cover it? Why not help those people be creating a phenomenal patient experience that not only helps them but leads them to your door?
@Paul.. Very important topic.
I find that when a web site has a live chat button where you can get answers to questions immediately, it beats trying to phone, going through the usual “press 1 for this, press 2 for that” routine.
If the rep at the other end of the chat is knowledgeable and engaging they can often discover that the caller is one of your 2nd opinion callers and, without any hard selling, get the caller to feel good about receiving services at the institution.
Reblogged this on KWKeirstead's Blog and commented:
Paul raises some excellent points!
Patients look for answers on Google (they ask a stranger’s opinion via their public experiences, i.e. YELP!, et al). The last thing a patient will do, whether leaving a hospital or finding a new one, is ask a hospital “marketing person” for help. Trust was lost in both of those scenarios and is carried forward until that trust is regained. — but that becomes harder to accomplish with each new failure.
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