Healthcare and Groupon

How Daily Coupons Change the Way Patients Shop for Specialty Care

This morning I had the opportunity to buy a dental exam (complete with x-rays and a take-home whitening kit) and a chiropractic exam (with complimentary hour-long massage) at only 49 percent of their original cost. I was checking my email, of course, and had received my daily deal-of-the-day newsletters from Groupon and Living Social. By now, most consumers are aware of these time- and money-saving social media platforms and the social event, restaurant or beauty deals. But most recently, this same platform is being applied to the healthcare industry.

“Groupon has offered a growing number of deals for eye exams, teeth-cleaning and whitening, electrolysis and chiropractic services. Approximately 15 percent of Groupon deals nationwide are for health care services,” says Julie Anne Mossler, a company spokeswoman.

Although these health-related offers are limited to exterior services – no kidney transplant surgeries offered quite yet – this coupon-shopping trend is rippling through the healthcare industry: 

Doctors Are “Advertising” Online: Groupon is also the modern-day equivalent of direct-mail marketing. Doctors send potential patients (all recipients of daily coupon emails qualify) a one-time promotional offer for a specific service. The goal is to covert one-time customers into regular patients who will pay full-price on their next visit.

Uninsured And Underinsured Patients Can Afford Specialty Care: Groupon offers are not only a way to attract business; they can also provide affordable specialty services to those without insurance coverage. Because medical care without insurance is extremely pricey, specialty services are often viewed as the least necessary and therefore the most neglected.  One ophthalmologist capitalized on Groupon’s ability to reach un- and underinsured patients by coordinating eye care providers across the country to participate in several Groupon offers that reached more patients without specialty coverage. 

Increased Consumer Awareness: For so long, the only numbers we considered when going to a doctor were 1) the insurance premium 2) the co-pay per visit and 3) the deductible. But now, thanks to more options and more accessible information, patients are becoming active consumers of medical services. Patients are conducting cost comparisons between the promotional offers in their inbox versus their insurance provider’s rate for that same service. Patient loyalty is not entirely a thing of the past, but it may be on its way out.

Although Groupon offers have limitations, their existence marks a shift in the health care industry. The provider-patient roles are also changing, as doctors and patients adopt the typical producer-consumer mindsets. For now, keep checking your emails to monitor the latest trends in social media and healthcare.

Have you bought a medical or health-related service on Groupon or Living Social? If so, did you have a positive experience? Will you visit that provider again in the future? Share your thoughts!