Do you have patient prospects who ask about hearing aids, but won’t commit to buying them? Do you have existing patients with hearing aids who have been saving up for new technology or gadgets, but haven’t visited your practice in a while?
It’s time to talk to these patients and prospects about a financing option that offers immediate, practical and affordable solutions. If your hearing care practice recently enrolled in a third‐party patient financing program like CareCredit, this is a great time to get the word out to these target audiences:
- “Long‐time” patients who haven’t returned to your practice for several years. They may be using older, outdated hearing aids and an upgrade could really improve their hearing.
- “Tested‐not‐sold” prospects—those who have come into your practice for a consult, but left without purchasing hearing aids (perhaps because the price was too daunting).
These two patient populations, who probably think hearing aids are beyond their budget, will welcome the news that you offer them an easy way to access the hearing technology they need in a much faster timeframe.
Use Financing to Win Prospects and Influence Patients
Marketing pros suggest reaching out to existing patients first. Invite them back with communications on new technologies that have been introduced since they last visited your office. Let them know that advanced hearing aid technology which they thought was out of reach may now be feasible, thanks to a new payment option you are offering, such as CareCredit.
Lower-priced Options Now Available. According to a recent article from the AARP, most people feel that hearing aids are priced too high, making them inaccessible. But according to writer and AARP contributor Cathie Gandel, many hearing care providers are now offering lower-cost hearing aids (some as low as $500 each) in order to reach more patients. If you have recently started offering hearing aids at a lower price-point, let people know! Notify clients and prospects that your office now offers both lower-priced hearing instruments and patient financing through the CareCredit credit card — a two-pronged effort to help more people gain access to hearing treatments without breaking their budgets. Gandel quotes audiologist Carly Girard as saying, “I have never had a patient I couldn’t find a hearing aid for within their budget.”
How to get the message out. There are effective traditional ways: Share the information through a letter, newsletter, oversized postcard or open house event. Go digital: post details on your website and via e-newsletters to your practice’s email contact lists. Include mention of easy payment options, provide information on any new technology you offer, and then encourage these patients to visit your practice. This gives them “food for thought” about hearing help available and could encourage them to upgrade.
Need help building your contact list? Check out the Available Credit Report that CareCredit shares with its enrolled providers. You can use this analytical tool to view the credit available to each CareCredit cardholder. If a cardholder has available credit and they are also due for an upgrade to a newer hearing aid or another hearing check-up, use the combined information to reach out to them via phone, mail or email. Find out more about the Available Credit Report via the CareCredit Provider Portal.
Ask Patients: Is it time to update your hearing aids?
Your messaging to prospects and patients can include a list of questions they can ask themselves to figure out if it is time to purchase or upgrade their hearing devices. Check out these 6 patient questions that Signia listed in a recent Web post.
Even if your patient contacts don’t return to your practice right away, this is still effective “relationship marketing.” This outreach effort lets them know you are thinking of them and alerts them that you now offer patient financing and a changing inventory of hearing care products to try and meet their needs.
According to a recent research study commissioned by CareCredit, the length of time for purchasing hearing care tends to be long (taking an average of 97 days).* When this care involves a higher out-of-pocket cost, such as premium hearing aids, patients’ “path to purchase” can be even longer. The same study found that when patients consider buying hearing aids or other products to improve their ability to listen to their world, their main challenges are affordability, not wanting to sacrifice other things in life, and a lack of insurance benefits. Yet, about 80% of people surveyed felt that hearing healthcare was a “quality of life issue.” Knowing this makes it easier to talk to patients about how you are doing all you can, through patient financing and through lower-priced hearing aid options, to help them improve their hearing within their budgets for a better quality of life.
TIP: keep in mind that if you don’t maintain regular communication with your clients, they may switch to your competitor if they hear about better pricing or financing options from them.
Case study: How One Audiologist Got Patients to Upgrade
Jeff Orcutt, AuD, an audiologist at Hearing Center Inc in Indianapolis is among the many hearing healthcare professionals who believe it’s a good idea to contact patients who haven’t returned for a few years and “still have your name out there and let them know you’re still around and you care.”
Orcutt’s office maintains a database of patients – tracking when they buy hearing aids. His staff then follows up with correspondence twice a year. Then every 3 to 5 years, his office mails postcards to those patients who haven’t visited lately to let them know about new technology. These patients are asked to return for a demo of the technology as well as a hearing test. At times, Orcutt also adds an extra incentive such as free batteries. (You can also offer easy, in-office enrollment in patient financing through CareCredit as another incentive.)
Know the Facts on Affordability & Financing
There are so many “super‐powered” hearing aids on the market with impressive features such as wireless streaming. People who visit your practice know these aids tend to be extremely expensive and may shy away from purchasing them. The key to making these available to more patients could be a financing program that lets them defer payments, but get advanced hearing technology right away.
In the “Path to Purchase” study done for CareCredit by Rothstein Tauber Inc, findings show that some 84% of patients researched cost compared with 88% who looked into treatment options (including hearing aids). This study found that patients weighing pros and cons of treatment and costs for dentistry and optical care had a shorter path to purchase. For hearing aids, the higher out-of-pocket cost affected the length of consideration. A key insight was that “Cost, payment options and financing are as important to patients as the procedure or hearing product is.” Surprisingly, about 74% of patients were not aware that financing was available for their hearing care. However, 48% said they would think about financing if it meant the difference between getting treatment right away or putting it off for a long time.
Financing Hearing Care Products — An Appealing Option
The role of third-party financing options such as CareCredit is to help make needed care easier for cardholders and their families, alleviating some of the stress of deciding whether or not to purchase health treatments and products.
CareCredit is committed to ongoing market research, which has shown that a vast majority of patients (82%) look for information at the provider’s office itself. Patients also research care online through search engines (77%), medical advice websites (59%), and provider’s websites (58%).
“Having a well-trained staff and a robust website ensures patients have easy access to the information they want and need to make a decision. Introducing financing as an easy payment option can be helpful.” – Path to Purchase Study
Make sure your website and your front office provide clear information on the financing options you offer, and the range of products and treatments you provide. And remember, the easiest conversation opener is letting existing patients and prospects know how you and your hearing care practice are doing everything possible to help them them get the hearing care they need – today and always – so they can continue to enjoy the sounds of life. Remember, your knowledge of the latest products and financing options are your tools for good communication and good business growth.
Image credits: AARP, Alamy; Dreamstime
* Path to Purchase study done for CareCredit by Rothstein Tauber Inc, 2014.