Winning self-pay patients

With growing waiting lists, and increasing awareness of health and wellbeing, the self-pay market should be flourishing. In a new monthly column in Healthcare Markets, independent consultant Richard Gregory asks why there hasn’t been more growth in this patient market.

Gregory argues that all good self-pay business must firstly be built on, and then constantly and directly informed by, (changing) customer expectations.

He suggests that customer expectations in healthcare are widely known as being high clinical quality and safety, speed and flexibility of treatment, comfort, affordability, accessibility and personalised service. These are the competitive factors, the relative performance of which will determine the strength of self-pay growth and consequently the level of customer loyalty, advocacy and repeat business.

Gregory writes that the key to gaining a competitive edge is to understand the relative importance of these factors to the customer. Which factor or combination of factors are non-negotiable and which make the difference and motivate the customer to buy?

He states that factors are ‘qualifiers’ and some ‘order winners’. Qualifiers are those aspects of competitiveness which a customer expects to be delivered to a specific standard before they will even consider your offering. Subsequent performance improvements in the delivery of qualifiers generally will not of themselves result in more business, they are in this respect, at best neutral. Other factors are needed. These are order winners. These are ones which customers consider as being key reasons to purchase.

So in self-pay what are the qualifiers and order winners? Gregory’s views are formed from reviewing and carrying out extensive research into customer expectations, wants and demands over a number of years. To read the full column, sign up to a free trial of Healthcare Markets.