By Troy Humphreys, OD, FAAO
Nov. 25, 2015
Encourage patients to use their flex-spending and health savings account dollars in your office before the end of the year. Educate patients about the chance to purchase additional eyewear and contact lenses, and you will generate greater end-of-the-year revenues.
MARKET SELECTIVELY. Learn which health plans have FSA/HSA options, and market specifically to patients with those plans.
PROMOTE SECOND PAIRS. Remind patients of prescriptions for second pairs, such as sports glasses, that they still haven’t purchased.
E-BLAST PATIENTS. Send e-mail to patients about the need to use or lose FSA/HSA dollars, along with information and photos about the available products in your office.
The end of the year offers practices a prime opportunity to market to patients the use of flex spending and health saving account dollars. Don’t miss the chance to remind your patients that you have many products for them to spend the FSA and HSA dollars that they will lose if not spent by the end of the year. Here is how my practice markets this message to patients, with help from our partner, Primary Eyecare Network (PEN), which always keeps us up to date on our year-round marketing needs.
In a six-OD group practice such as ours, we often under-emphasize marketing opportunities, like communication about end-of-year FSA/HSA spending, when we are completely booked for the near future. However, we all should take advantage of opportunities to be booked with a higher percentage of patients who tend to use not only our services, but our products, as well. Marketing to encourage FSA/HSA spending can help us do this.
FSA/HSA & Patients:
What to Say, When to Say It
At Patient In-Take: “If you have funds left in your FSA, it’s essential that you spend those funds by Dec. 31, which is only X days away.”
E-mail & Social Media: “Do you know you could lose your Health Savings if not spent by the end of the year? Do not hesitate to come on in and get those back up glasses, sports sunwear, or that eye health evaluation you have put off! We are happy to see you and provide the preventative eye health care and products you need!”
Help Patients Use Their Benefit & Help Your Practice
Close to 40 percent of the patients in our practice have a FSA/HSA. In certain markets, many health plans always have an attached FSA/HSA, so learning which plans do in your region helps you selectively market to patients with those plans.
Since HSA/FSA dollars are utilized separately from vision plans or medical plans, the practice can capture full usual and customary fees on services and products. With insurance/vision plan adjustments yielding lower and lower net profitability to practices, FSA/HSA dollars allow an increase in net profitability. In our practice, roughly 10 percent of all collections throughout the year come from HSA/FSA dollars. Although our practice does market this HSA/FSA utilization, we continually work to improve our patients’ knowledge about spending their HSA/FSA accounts, and the benefits of using them in our practice.
We find that over 80 percent of our HSA/FSA spenders spend those dollars on eyewear, getting multiple pairs, back-up pairs, and specialty eyewear, such as polarized fishing sunglasses and other sports- or activity-specific glasses.
Set Timing for FSA/HSA Marketing
We usually begin marketing HSA/FSA spending in the few weeks prior to Thanksgiving. This may be a bit late, and we may consider moving it up more toward the middle of October. We are selective in the messages we send out, and try to minimize “overloading” our patients with excessive marketing. We limit ourselves to no more than 5-6 marketing campaigns per year, and patients appreciate the fact (so we have been told) that they are not bombarded with too many marketing messages from us.
E-Blast Patients FSA/HSA Reminder & Set On-Hold FSA Message
We will do an e-blast to our patient base reminding them that FSA/HSAs can be used for eyecare goods and services. In addition to the e-blast, we use an on-hold phone message for patients calling into our office during the fall. They both have been effective. We have essentially cut out most of our postal mail marketing, as e-mail has proven to be just as, or more, effective. Here is an example of the kind of FSA/HSA e-blast we send out:
Coordinate Marketing Campaign with Staff
We always let our team members (in our practice they are team members, not staff members) know when we send an e-mail out like the one above. This gets them all acutely aware of the message that went out and the internal marketing of FSA/HSA spending that needs to happen. We like scripts, but always emphasize that each person may have a different way of expressing the same message; it must, however, be positive and patient-centric every time.