In a challenging and uncertain healthcare sector, some medical practices try to look for other sources of revenue, but the question of selling to your patients can be a touchy subject. Retail sales are a very easy and efficient way to improve your bottom line, but leaves physicians faced with a dilemma: Is it right to profit off of my patients, or should I send them elsewhere to spend their money? The answer is not so simple. As you consider whether to start selling to your patients, here are some questions to consider.
Are you being fair to your patients?
Most people understand that when they buy an item from a store, the store is making a profit from that sale. So why do patients get so offended when a doctor’s office makes a profit from selling products to them? This is not a very easy question to answer, but one factor may be that patients want to feel a medical provider is looking out for their welfare, and not trying just to make money. Thus empathy is communication is critical. Show them comparable pricing, let them know that you offer these products for their convenience, and don’t push them to buy something if they feel uneasy about it. The ultimate decision should always be in the patients’ hands.
Can the patient get this product somewhere else?
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Are you selling your own product?
If you invented a product that you want to sell to your patients, make sure that the pricing is fair, and your product is effective. There shouldn’t be an ethical dilemma if you know that your products will result in positive outcomes for your patient. In terms of pricing, you should try to achieve a balance of reasonable profits vs. patient outcomes. It helps to compare your pricing to comparable products in the retail market.
Are you being fair to yourself?
Some practices sell their patients supplies at little to no markup. This can be a great technique to help build a patient base, but at the same time don’t undersell yourself. Make sure that you accounting for all of your costs, such as shipping, storage, labor etc. This will help make sure that you are not losing money by offering this service.
Can you monitor your sales?
Creating a retail business can be as simple or complex as you need it to be, but you should always know how your retail business is performing. Make sure you can keep a record of sales either using a with software or some other method. Most practices use billing software to keep a record of their financial performance. Some programs have a retail or point of sale module that both records sales and also adjusts inventory counts accordingly. Have a plan for how you can gather this data and include it in your financial reporting.
As you explore the possibilities for direct selling to your patients, the potential can be encouraging from a business perspective, but be sure to consider these important questions before you begin.
ArbiMed offers medical inventory management software that can lower costs and optimize spending for your practice or facility. To learn more please visit our website, or contact us today to start a free trial or to schedule a free demo.