MARCH 2, 2016 – You may bill your patients annually, quarterly or in some cases, monthly. The case can be made for each with pros and cons to all. For example, you may have found yourself asking … “why would you bill your patients monthly when you are in essence, allowing them to say ‘No’ twelve times a year? Do you really want to give the patient the option to pay by check once a quarter? Will they see value in the subscription? Will they cancel? Is the annual or quarterly subscription payment going to be small enough to justify the need for your services next year? If I bill my patients monthly, am I charging enough? What about those over the past two to three years in subscription-based medical offices that struggle financially when the monthly price is less than $100. The 50+ crowd doesn’t have an issue with the billing but the Millennials and Gen-Xer’s are constantly calling and haggling over the fees. Is having a “card on file” the best option when billing patients annually?”
So many questions.
Today, we’re going to talk about a trend we see rising, particularly among the 25-45 age demographic. It’s called subscription-purging. If you bill your patients monthly and more than 60% of your patient panel is made up of this audience, lean in and pay attention for a moment. Subscription Purging occurs when an individuals monthly subscriptions have accumulated to the point whereby they are emptying their wallet automatically (auto-pay). When that happens, this stops people in their tracks. They take the time to logon, login and manage their multiple subscriptions. Don’t think that just because you saw this patient once in the past month that your subscription payment is immune. In many cases, some doctors offices do not have written contracts with a patient that lasts longer than 30-days.
Is it time to rethink your patient contract and retention strategy? Experienced industry consultants, possibly an attorney, your accountant, your staff and your spouse will be able to help you answer that strategic question.
Subscription-based Medical Care is a relatively new, free market delivery innovation and its taken on many variations and lessons from the success of Concierge Medicine programs over the years. Much like the popularity of other service subscriptions in the marketplace like Prime, Netflix or Costco, Subscription-based medical care performs the functions of several different services. It provides a fair amount of selection, cost-saving deals, family discounts, and its ultimately up to you to decide each month, quarter or year if you want to keep the same doctor. It puts the patient in control and tells them how much it costs. Look for more subscription-based telehealth services from doctors, PAs and NPs in the months to come.
A lot of people are emptying their bank accounts and their wallets automatically each month for something they don’t remember signing up for and never use.
Tip #1 – Allow Your Patients to Manage Their Membership, Set-up Billing Online and provide the option of a Billing Frequency that works best for them.
For example, if you have a 12-month or 13-month contract with a patient, allow them the option of paying you monthly by Credit Card. If you have a month-to-month contract with your patients which auto-renews at the first day or last day of the month, allow a card-on-file record to auto-draft and pay the bill for them, relieving the need and questionable bill, in many cases, out of the patients mind each month. Your billing and collections software service solution provider should be able to help you with this. If it’s too complicated, ask your accountant and trusted attorney about the correct state billing practice.
Tip #2 – What Name is Associated and Printed On the Billing Statement?
When subscription purging occurs, people will usually go to their bank statements or credit card statements. They will look at the subscriptions carefully which are being automatically billed to their card(s) and evaluate them line-item by line-item. So, what name or corporate identify are you using which is going to be printed on their statement(s)? Ask your Credit Care Processing Carrier what name is printed on the statement. You could be inadvertently losing money, creating billing confusion and causing patients (and your staff) unnecessary frustration when your billing identity is foreign to your patients memory recall.
Example: If your business name is “Archer Family Medicine, Inc.” … and the Credit Card Billing Statement cites “AFM, INC.” Billed You $130. Is that a recognizable name to your patients months later when they are in a money crunch?
Tip #3 – Communicate with your patients often. Go snail mail.
There’s nothing more old school than snail mail. No, I’m not talking about mailing out a paper billing statement. That’s what tax time is for. What I’m talking about is central to the relationship between a doctor and his/her patient. Building on the relationship and showing you care by putting a small note in the mail to your patients … even when they don’t call or see the inside of your practice that often.
Example: The last time Jane Doe was in, she complained about her flu symptoms. She also mentioned in passing that her son was in the school play.
What to do next?
Find a nice piece of personalized stationary, a small envelope that matches the monogrammed card and write a handwritten note to your patient … saying something to the fact that … “Hi Jane: The staff here and I hope you are feeling better. We haven’t seen you in a few weeks. We trust your sons school play was fun. See you soon!” Sincerely, Dr. John Q. Public
Remember, people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. A message Concierge Medicine has delivered to countless patients for the past 20-years.