Boutique style medical practices are becoming more and more popular. As costs increase and technology advances, it only makes sense that patients want a more unique experience with their doctors.
While patient payment trends point to an increased preference in digital correspondence rather than in-person, it only makes sense for more practices to break into e-commerce to meet patient expectations.
Below, we outline four tasks practices should absolutely complete in order to break into e-commerce.
- Register With LegitScript or NABP
A pharmacy, where medicinal drugs are dispensed and sold, can also take place online. While e-commerce for medical practices can offer more than just prescriptions, such as wellness packages for patients to purchase, this first step could have major implications if overlooked.
In addition, certain card issuers have requirements practices need to adhere to. Visa and MasterCard require that any pharmacy keying in transactions require the following:
- A $500 registration fee with Visa, per year.
- A $500 registration fee with MasterCard, per year.
- A letter prepared by the business’s attorney that expresses that the merchant is practicing in accordance with all state/federal FDA/DEA laws surrounding the sale of pharmaceuticals.
Failure to comply with these requirements can result in a minimum fine of $10,000. Once confirmed, the online pharmacy will be listed and available to the public.
E-commerce requires a variety of providers to make the complete experience possible. These include a shopping cart, a Payment Gateway and a Merchant Service Provider. As a traditional medical practice with a physical location, it’s likely you already work with a Merchant Service Provider. Many “turnkey” providers will handle the payments for you, but tread with caution. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for these providers to practice unethical billing when it comes to merchant fees.
You can even consolidate these providers by opting for an all-in-one provider that covers both the gateway and merchant account services. Doing so will not only remove one more party from the list of providers you have, but likely remove monthly fees associated with a stand-alone Payment Gateway.
Integrating these will streamline the flow of sales from the online pharmacy to the back-end portal where inventory, sales and reports are managed. This can also mean having visibility of both your in-person practice and online pharmacy in the same place.
Failing to do so will mean a poor user experience for patients and customers, and could lead your e-commerce side of the business to failure.
The shift to high deductible health plans means more financial responsibility on patients. Offering patients the option of payment plans, especially for prescriptions, would provide the flexibility patients need to get the healthcare they require and allow them to pay for it in a way they know they can.
You can collect these incremental payments via an automated, recurring payment plan, or allow your patients to submit payment when due through your e-commerce website. Offering payment plans with an e-commerce website means more accessibility and less obstacles for patients.
While a medical practice has a physical location and people in-house to communicate with, it’d be wise to go digital in communication with patients when breaking into e-commerce. Why? For one, it would be familiar to patients using your e-commerce website, since the majority of communication for e-commerce businesses are digital.
While digital communication is increasingly preferred by patients, it also poses benefits to medical practices. Digital communication of bills means quicker payment fulfillment by patients and less costs around paper for your practice.
Have you already considered taking your practice into e-commerce? Tell us about the obstacles or questions you’re facing in the comments section below!