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Do Patients Really Notice Whether Your Fees are Competitive?

You bet they do—even if they have health insurance
Stephen Heitz, Chief Innovation Officer | Tim Trull, Managing Director, Strategy

You might think your patients—especially those covered by health insurance—won’t notice whether the rates and fees you charge are competitive. After all, the in-network deductible is the same wherever they go.

New research, however, reveals that such is not the case. (More on that in a moment.)

LAVIDGE conducted a national consumer healthcare study in early 2020, with an amended survey in May 2020. The objective was to learn attitudes of healthcare consumers and define segments that share those attitudes—pre-pandemic and during the COVID-19 situation as it develops.

The study uncovered four key healthcare consumer segments:

  • Team Players - like and trust their doctors and are confident in the healthcare system.
  • Bystanders - are intimated by the healthcare system and health care providers.
  • Crusaders - feel that everyone should have equal access to quality healthcare.
  • Boss - conduct their own healthcare research and challenge their doctors.

This is the third in a series of articles in which we reveal several “Light-Bulb Moments” our research uncovered.

Light-Bulb Moment 3: Paying attention to fees is widespread, even among those who have insurance

Okay, back to the insight at hand: even with health insurance, patients shop for the best healthcare cost.

Of those who responded to our study, 35% say they “always” pay attention to what their health care provider charges for services. Another 30% say they “usually” pay attention. Those who fit into the Boss category displayed their take-charge tendencies with 75% in total (40% “always,” 35% “usually”) of them being more likely to be aware of costs associated with their healthcare such as visits, treatments, tests or procedures.

Avoid being judged on cost alone

Overcome this challenge by positioning yourself or your practice on other, more meaningful, attributes for each unique audience, rather than being commoditized based on cost.

020 attitudinal segmentation research in the health care industry show that health care providers should avoid being judged on cost alone.Patients are more likely to accept higher fees to access quality care made possible by having state-of-the art equipment onsite, for example, or to have a specialist on staff who can perform procedures not widely available elsewhere.

A patient who is experiencing an immediate need such as an infection or extreme pain may also be willing to pay more to be seen right away. You build value by offering these types of “emergency” bookings or extended hours, even if your patient isn’t in immediate need when they choose you to be part of their medical health provider team.

Convenience is also key. Your proximity to where your patients live or work can be a huge selling point. This saves them time on the road and can make scheduling easier.

Whatever they are, focus your marketing efforts on the patient perks which make the most sense based on the attitudes and beliefs of each marketing segment you wish to serve.

Fees matter more to some of your patients

Only 9% of study respondents say they always shop around based on cost. Another 15% say they usually do.

That said, it doesn’t mean being thoughtful about your costs isn’t still important.

Here’s why respondents overall say they pay attention to the fees:

  • To learn how much their insurance will cover – 60%
  • To determine if they can afford the treatment – 32%
  • To compare pricing for the same procedure – 23%

Bystanders are more likely to shop around based on cost than the other three attitudinal segments our research identified. So you’ll want to keep that in mind when preparing marketing or advertisements to recruit or maintain them as patients.

The greatest percentage of Bystanders, at 38%, say they shop around “sometimes.” Another 23% say they “usually” do, with 16% of respondents saying they “always” consider costs when choosing a healthcare provider.

Partner with an experienced healthcare marketing agency

Going it alone, especially in a post-pandemic market, can be risky for medical practices in 2020 and beyond. More than ever, choosing the best agency to partner with for consumer healthcare marketing messages has never been more important.

Consumer attitudes are changing, and you need an experienced team with significant industry experience combined with access to developing consumer insight based on what your patients believe.

You’ll find just that with LAVIDGE.

In fact, health care marketing is a core category at our Phoenix-based agency. We invest in primary research to keep abreast of consumer shifts in the health care industry.

For example, in 2016, we launched our first healthcare research study and published the results in 2017. We followed up by publishing an entire content suite of healthcare-related advice on how to apply the information to a host of marketing and advertising services from Content to Programmatic to help industry players achieve their goals.

Our current study digs deeper and provides updates on what’s most important to health care consumers today.

Finally, because our strong roster of current and past clients represents a wide range of organizations in the healthcare category including Banner Health, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Delta Dental, SimonMed Imaging, Sonora Quest Laboratories, and TGen, it’s clear that LAVIDGE is an agency you can trust.

We’d love to bring you into the fold.

To learn more about our health care attitudinal research study, contact Dave Nobs.

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