Handling Price Inquiries – What FOPs & Providers Need to Know

On occasion, patients call asking about the price of hearing devices. They may ask for a price range or the price of a specific product. Nowadays, most patients have already done some extent of online research and are merely looking for you to confirm the information they have found.

From a customer service standpoint, of course, you want to answer the patient’s pricing questions over the phone. But here’s why you shouldn’t and how to handle it as a Front Office Professional (FOP) or Hearing Healthcare Provider.

 

Front Office Professionals

  1. If the patient hasn’t had his hearing tested, then you don’t know if he could benefit from amplification. The first thing you should do is find out if he’s had a hearing test and been told he could benefit from hearing devices.
  2. Regardless of the patient’s response, the device recommendation will still be based on hearing loss, lifestyle, and budget. So, without consulting with the provider, you don’t know what will be recommended as a solution. The best thing you can do for the patient is to schedule a consultation with the provider who is the hearing expert. Most important, communicate these reasons to the patient on your call. Don’t just say, “we don’t provide pricing over the phone.” Instead, provide the reasoning and emphasize how each patient requires individual testing and recommendations in order to provide the best solution based on hearing loss, lifestyle, and budget.
  3. Let the patient know that your practice works with a variety of manufacturers with a range of prices to fit their needs. If absolutely necessary, offer to have the provider contact the patient to further advise them on their options.

Hearing Health Providers

  1. Find out what’s important to patients and why they are inquiring about price. Are they asking about price because they have a preconceived notion about the cost of hearing devices? Are they getting second-hand information from a friend or loved one? Are they trying to sort through mailers, newspaper ads, and/or the internet to make sense of the price?
  2. Explain how the influx of information from the above sources can be confusing and how you can help them make sense of it all by being their trusted advisor. Let them know that although hearing devices can look alike, it doesn’t mean they all have the same functionality, and it’s important to understand how their ongoing hearing healthcare needs will be handled. Let them know why patients choose to come to you. 
  3. Invite the patient to visit your practice for a free consultation with you. Patients choose providers they trust. So be the provider they need.

Reach out!

Talk to your Account Manager today if you have any questions about how you and your staff can better handle price shoppers or cost objections.

You and your team may benefit from our Employee Development Program (EDP), which offers regional classes on a variety of topics, from increasing customer satisfaction to closing sales. We also provide weekly teletrainings which give practice owners the opportunity to openly discuss the challenges their personnel are facing and learn how to overcome them.

And don’t forget that there’s a wealth of information and free materials available to Consult members via Navigator, including scripts your staff can use as a guide for handling incoming calls, requesting patient referrals, asking for a Third Party, and more.

About the Author

Diana Dobo was as an Account Manager for three years and Divisional Vice President for the West Division for four years before being named Consult YHN’s Vice President of Strategic Accounts. She has nearly 20 years of experience in sales, marketing and business development. Prior to joining Consult YHN, she was a Senior Sales Manager in the healthcare IT industry.

Tips for Filling Your Schedule with More New Patients

One of the most common questions I hear from practice owners is a crucial one:

“What can I do to bring new patients in the door?”

This fundamental question can be the difference between a practice that is thriving with year-over-year growth or one that is simply staying afloat. In the worst of cases, left unsolved, this question can lead to declines in revenue.

With an ever-changing landscape and a widening shift to managed care, practices want to know now more than ever how to specifically get more private pay patients in the door.

Here are the keys to success that I have utilized to help the practices that I work closely with:

1. One of the very first steps in this process is the need to determine the patient types that exist in your practice (i.e. Private Pay, Managed Care, Medicaid, and Workman’s Compensation). You will need to do a thorough analysis of your specific patient mix by tracking sales in your practice management system while simultaneously completing this same level of analysis in your financial management system. This will provide you with a detailed breakdown of your actual sales numbers and you can determine what your specific patient mix has been.

2. Once you have a good handle on how many patients you fit by type, you will need to determine your monthly revenue goal, current device sales by patient type, and current revenue by patient type. These numbers can help you build a forecast for non-private pay vs. private pay revenue based on historical trends. This will allow you to subtract out your non-private pay revenue from your monthly revenue goal in order to determine how many private pay patients you need to fit each month.

An example might help to solidify this concept: After completing the above review, you determine that your monthly revenue goal is $50,000 a month, your average sales price per private pay device is $2,000, and you normally fit 10 managed care patients per month with a fitting fee of $600 per patient. Your non-private pay revenue per month would be $6,000 in revenue from non-private pay patients that you can assume would come in regardless of other efforts to attract more patients. If we subtract this number from your overall revenue goal, you will see that you would need to bring in $44,000 in private pay revenue to hit your goal for the month. Now, if you divide this number by your average sales price per private pay device, you can see that you need to fit 22 private pay devices per month to hit your revenue goal.

3. Now that you know this answer, you will want to determine how many private pay appointments need to be on your schedule to achieve the 22 device sales for the month. This calculation is based on your specific practice’s numbers as each practice has different conversion, return, and cancellation rates. Consult YHN’s Plug & Play Calculator will do the math for you!

4. Once you know the magic number, you should block that many appointments on your schedule and focus on filling them. Now, this is where the answer to the main question lies: How do you fill your schedule? There are many different techniques that practices use, and no single strategy works best since every practice is different.

Some of the most common and beneficial ways to acquire new private pay patients are in the form of marketing. Direct mail, newspaper, and digital advertising are still the leading forms of traditional marketing that lead to patient acquisition. Other ways of attracting new patients are through physician outreach, community outreach, implementing a hearing wellness protocol, and most importantly, mining your own database for patients who may have older technology or originally tested but did not purchase a device. This is great for generating new leads without having to spend money on marketing as you already have the patient’s information and a relationship with them.

5. Once you have your plan in place, you’ll want to look at your schedule on a daily basis and aggressively attempt to fill any openings. One tactic that I normally advise a practice to employ is to meet with your team to customize and prioritize a plan that directs focus on calling individuals to keep your schedule filled. Contacting patients that are scheduled out in the future and bringing those appointments forward will help fill your current schedule vacancies and provide time for your team to contact other patients that may have previously canceled an appointment or been tested but not treated.

Your team can conduct an audit of the current schedule by looking at any non-revenue generating appointments, such as repairs and clean and checks, that are scheduled in the next week to check the age of their hearing devices and last hearing test date to see if they are due for an updated test or technology demonstration.

6. Last, but certainly not least, your team should be properly trained to handle customer calls. Being able to handle an incoming call, qualify these calls to schedule the correct appointment type, and calling current patients plays a vital role. If you and your team stay focused on filling your schedule with the correct amount of appointments needed to meet your revenue goal, I can assure you, growth will follow.

This is just a snippet of what you and your staff can do. If you want to implement these methods throughout your practice, our team is available to ensure the process goes smoothly.

Contact your AM or call us at 800-984-3272 if you do not have a Consult YHN representative.

About the Author

Diana Dobo was as an Account Manager for three years and Divisional Vice President for the West Division for four years before being named Consult YHN’s Vice President of Strategic Accounts. She has nearly 20 years of experience in sales, marketing and business development. Prior to joining Consult YHN, she was a Senior Sales Manager in the healthcare IT industry.