Why Social Spending Makes Sense for Healthcare

Marianne Aiello, October 20, 2010

Deal-of-the-day social spending websites such as Groupon, LivingSocial, and BuyWithMe have quickly become top online destinations for when you want a discount on Yoga classes or $30 worth of Indian food for $15. But now, some healthcare organizations are experimenting with using these companies to offer discounted elective care to local patients.

If you're not familiar with these social spending sites, it may be because they haven't hit your market yet. Groupon, the most popular of these sites, launched in 2008 in Chicago and soon expanded into Boston, New York City, and Toronto. Now, the company serves more than 150 markets in North American and 100 in Europe, Asia, and South America. You the complete list of cities at http www.groupon.com/cities.

"Groupon negotiates huge discounts on popular local goods, services and cultural events," according to its website. "Then we offer the deals to thousands of subscribers in a free daily email. The deals are activated only when a minimum number of people agree to buy. So our subscribers get a great deal and the business gets a ton of new customers. Win-win."

Last week, The Balitmore Sun wrote about Katzen Eye Group recent Groupon deal offering an eye exam and glasses for $50.

"The timing was right so I jumped on it," Monica Dillon, a Baltimore-area accountant told The Sun. "I'd be more cautious about laser surgery or hair removal. That would take more research. But this worked out; they found a problem with my prescription."

For Katzen Eye Group, offering a discounted service paid off by getting patients in the door who may otherwise never have even heard of the practice. And other healthcare organizations have similar thinking when it comes to social buying.

"In the past year, Groupon has offered a growing number of deals for eye exams, teeth-cleaning and whitening, electrolysis and chiropractic services," The Sun reports. "Approximately 15% of Groupon deals nationwide are for health care services, says Julie Anne Mossler, a company spokeswoman."

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