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Why Social Spending Makes Sense for Healthcare

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media, October 20, 2010

A quick Google search found many health-related Groupon deals, most notably a bundled package from Spinal Health Care in Cordova, TN. The September deal offered back-pain sufferers a consultation, exam, digital x-rays, a spinal adjustment, and a 30-minute massage for $39—93% off its $575 total value. According to the Groupon page, 145 people purchased this deal.

Even with such an extreme discount, I'd call Spinal Health Care's Groupon promotion a success. For presumably much less than a traditional advertising campaign, the chiropractic practice got 145 people familiar with their brand, physicians, and patient experience. And if some of those patients were diagnosed with a problem that required treatment, they may have booked subsequent appointments at full price.

(Of course, this is assuming that the practice's patient experience is up to snuff. There's no point in attracting hundreds of new patients if they aren't satisfied with their care when they get there.)

In the days of retail health, the possibilities for healthcare organizations to use social spending sites are limitless. Discounted flu shots, physical exams, and other types of screenings will be popular with today's price-conscious health consumer—especially if they are suffering the consequences of a previous Yoga or Indian food deal gone awry.

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2 comments on "Why Social Spending Makes Sense for Healthcare"


Will Pareja (10/20/2010 at 4:45 PM)
Indeed, Groupon is a class act idea and company. As consumers, my family has benefited from some of the deals and look forward to more. However, as a marketing coordinator for a local pain management group in Chicago, I am not ready to pull the trigger on Groupon as part of my mktg mix. What didn't seem to be conveyed in the article is that companies like Groupon make their money by taking a cut of whatever comes in. When I looked into w/ Groupon, they were going to take 50% income of Groupons sold. Since we offer elective procedures such as cosmetic laser hair removal and skin rejuvenation, I thought this would be a good area to expose to the public. If (for instance) we normally charge a $100 facial treatment, we would offer it at 50% to attract new patients, right? Yep. I'm charging $50 for a Groupon. That is, my prospective new patient will be getting a $100 worth of service for half off. Groupon coffers are ready at my check-out desk b/c they take 50% of the $50. Is that really any kind of win-win? I agree w/ the article in that the exposure provided is nearly invaluable and probably worth of the loss in profit. However, the profitability for biz owners (and in my case small healthcare practices) still begs the question: what percentage of Grouponers will convert to loyal patients or clients? Further, I agree that this isn't traditional marketing and is therefore worthy of testing out. But (as with all marketing ventures), the risk should be calculated and healthcare entrepreneurs should ask if: a) they have the personnel to keep up w/ the barrage of new traffic and b) the exposure will generate enough brand loyalty to outlast the "traffic jam." In the land of the brave and the free, social spending is a worthy option and contender for marketing dollars. It has proven itself a worthwhile marketing risk for restaurants and other industries, but to say that it "makes sense" for healthcare based on a couple of examples is a premature judgment. I hope you are quite right. Thanks for the article! As an aside, check out this article from Chicago's Red Eye newspaper specifically focusing on corporate buying power: http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/redeye/2010/05/deal-or-no-deal-how-groupon-affects-local-chicago-restaurants.html

Nora (10/20/2010 at 2:56 PM)
This can be a great opportunity for people who might not be able to afford their very important health check-ups or dental exams. I expect to see this trend on the rise. A great site to find deals and sales like these available in your area is http://www.dailydealpool.com. They'll send you a daily email with the best discounts available, ensuring you won't miss out.