My Big Fat Deal of the Day

Don’t you love the deals you can get on Groupon or WagJag? Great restaurant discounts! Cheap Go-Cart rides! Spin classes! Paint Nites! And have you ever tried the miracle noodles?

What about when health professionals use these on-line ‘deal of the day’ marketing sites? Can anything go wrong?

Maybe yes, maybe no. The problem is, as a health professional, you’re not supposed to sell health care services to people who don’t need them. And here’s the legal: It comes back to the idea of your fiduciary duty which, simply put, means that you have a duty to act in the best interests of your patients.

Maybe this analogy will help. In any situation where you are offering a service or a product to a patient, think of it as a contest of “Who’s the Biggest Winner?” The patient always has to be the biggest winner. And physiotherapy patients only win when there is a legitimate potential that they will see real physical benefits from treatment.

Patients win on Groupon only if they actually need and can benefit from the services they purchase. So, as a patient, if I buy a WagJag that offers me three visits for $100, I can be a big winner, but only if I truly need physiotherapy. (I’ve heard the joke that everyone needs physio and I get that, but…in all seriousness, if you are providing visits that do not have a therapeutic benefit to patients, then you are offside).

So how can you use these marketing tools? Make sure you set up the deal so that patients can get some or all of their money back if they don’t need physiotherapy. Conduct your usual careful assessment and discuss what to do next with the patient. If that initial assessment shows no need for or potential therapeutic benefit from physiotherapy, the patient should be able to get part of their money back. Our new Advertising Standard refers to this—5. Advertising About Prices.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go buy a coupon for a dogsledding ride before the deal expires.

 

Related Resource: Advertising Standard (Revised)

2 thoughts on “My Big Fat Deal of the Day

  1. Hello Shenda – love the comments option and the Blog. I hope to visit it routinely.

    I found the topic to be quite thought provoking – I would like to share some of them with you and the other readers:

    I agree wholeheartedly that
    1) consumers need know what they are and are not purchasing prior to agreeing to entering into an exchange. Ethics are key but it is well known that leaving customers feeling ripped off will cause your business to close.
    2) the public needs to be protected from lies and physical harm. The example in the blog is neither untruthful or physically harmful to the consumer.

    Being a consumer carries with it some degree of responsibility. In this case the consumer must decide that the service they are buying is likely to meet their needs and therefor has value to them, and that they are comfortable with the stated fee – be it on sale on not. If they are mistaken in their judgement then it behooves to service provider to ensure that the customer is left feeling well served and the customer may, to a degree, end up parting with some time and money – which may be viewed as the cost of an education to them.

    CPOs view on this scenario and in regards to the recent standard on advertising appears to take the view that
    a) the people of Ontario are not insufficiently qualified to decide if they want to buy physiotherapy services,
    b) they are not sufficiently intellect to recognize the limitations of a testimonial statement as a measure of quality
    c) a Government Agency is required to protect them from errors that they would make if left to their own devices .

    I feel that if government regulatory bodies focus on points 1 and 2 all parties will be more well served.

    Thank for the opportunity to comment and for your consideration.

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  2. Excellent blog. These posts provide me with a lot of reinforcement of what I am currently doing right as a practitioner. It also keeps me current with updates and requirements to ensure my compliance with college standards and to ensure that I am providing fair and ethical treatment to all of my patients. I see the College of Physiotherapists as an excellent resource and partner in my practice.
    Thank you for everything you are doing.

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