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Losing Money to Make Money

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In a competitive market, traditional marketing is only so effective in attracting new cardiac patients, particularly when most of the heart and vascular programs already have longstanding brand recognition.

Beaumont Hospital faced such a challenge in a "hypercompetitive" cardiovascular market near Detroit, and decided screenings would be the best way to get patients in the door.

So the hospital cut patients a deal and offered seven tests for $70. Patients can get an electrocardiogram, blood pressure measurement, lipids testing, cholesterol measurement, triglicerate readings, high-density lipoprotein screenings, vascular ankle brachial index, and abdominal aortic aneurism tests. If a patient has abnormal test results, a physician will discuss the results with the patient during the same visit and contact the referring physician about follow-up care.

The screenings are considered a loss leader—the $70 price tag may not generate positive margins on the surface, but it more than makes up for the shortfall through referrals and downstream revenue, says Vicki Hollingsworth, administrative director of ancillary services.

"What we get out of it is patients who have never been to Beaumont system before—20% have never walked into a Beaumont facility previously," she says. "For us it’s critical that we attract new patients to our facility. We’ve seen that about 5% of patients have abnormal results and require further comprehensive testing, which has resulted in modest net income back to heart and vascular services."

Elyas Bakhtiari

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