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The Financial Uncertainty Facing Physicians: Evaluate what is best for your practice!

The Financial Uncertainty Facing Physicians: Evaluate what is best for your practice!

The financial uncertainty facing physicians seems to get more pronounced every year. Between Medicare reimbursement cuts, decreasing insurance reimbursement and Obama care, physicians are left wondering how they will be able to remain profitable. Many physicians are seeking ways to stabilize the income of their practice. Some are converting to a concierge practice where patients pay an annual premium for the privilege of having their physician basically on call for them. Others are adding PA’s, NP’s, allergy testing, cosmetic procedures, and even product lines to their practice.

Physicians are looking to add products or services that complement their existing practice. This is good for the physician and for the patient. The patient gets the added convenience of “one stop shopping” and physicians are able to make an additional income from products and services that help their patients. Should you offer products, services or both? Let’s start with products first. Products are an easy item to add to your office. There is usually very little overhead as most companies offer great terms and provide free marketing materials. Some of them even offer free training on the products for you and your staff. They have systems in place to help you market the products tastefully and effectively.

Some possible product lines include skin care, weight loss, nutritional supplements and hormone replacement. Physicians realize that some supplements definitely are effective and do have a role in their patient’s health. With so many choices of products, how do you decide what are the best products for your office and which is the best company? Here are a few things to consider:

Product Quality and Safety
This is one of the most important things to look at. Your credibility as a physician is important, so make sure you’re offering only high quality, safe products. The products should be independently tested at FDA registered labs and should be free of unnecessary fillers and other ingredients that are potentially harmful. In addition, they should be Certified USP Pharmaceutical Grade Quality.

Are the products sold exclusively through physician offices?
If patients can get the product at the grocery store or drug store, why would they need to purchase it from you. If it is sold exclusively by physicians, this is added credibility for you and the products.

Is there a demand for the products by patients?
You want to offer a product that your patients want, need or already purchase. You should look specifically at your patient demographic when evaluating the products. Make sure the products compliment your specific practice and area of expertise and will be looked upon as valuable by your patients.

What is the minimum order you can place?
The best companies have a low minimum order and reasonable terms for when you first get started. Most companies offer terms of Net 30 days for your first few orders. This gives you time to sell the products before paying for them.

What scientific data is available to support the formulation of the product?
The products should be based on sound scientific evidence and clinical experience. As a physician, you want to make sure that the products model what is currently supported by the latest scientific research.

Who developed the products?
Products developed by a physician or a PhD offer additional credibility and will make it easier for you to market the products.

What type of marketing materials are available and is there a fee for them?
The availability of quality marketing materials is important. You will want your patients to have access to professional materials that will let them know you are carrying a new product line and will help to educate them on the products. Having information available will save you and your staff considerable time as you will spend less time explaining to your patients. Be sure to ask about the fee for the marketing materials.

What other type of support does the company give you?
Customer support is key. Ask if you will have a personal representative to walk you through the product information, the ordering process and the set up process within the office.  Whether in person or through phone/email you should have someone you can contact with questions and who can advise you regarding the best way to set your office up for success.
 
How long has the company been in business?
I would say a minimum of 5 years in business would be sufficient. If you are going to invest time and energy into marketing a product line, you want to make sure the company is going to be around for the long haul.

Are the company’s prices competitive?
Everyone today is cost conscious so do a competitive analysis before committing.  With that being said, if the products are of superior quality but cost a little more, patients will pay for them.

Offering products is a great way to build an additional income for your practice. In fact, patients are often very happy to be able to get a recommendation from their physician for a quality product that actually works. For Dermatology, Plastic Surgery and Cosmetic Surgery, skin care products would be an obvious choice. For Cardiology, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Ophthalmology and Ob-Gyn nutritional supplements would work well. Stay tuned for our future Blog on services you may add to your practice!

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