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rexpresso's avatar

My mom's private clinic (gynecology/obstetrics) has been emptying because of the crisis. What can she do to recover some business?

Asked by rexpresso (920 points ) December 29th, 2011

Mom doesn’t do medicine for the money, I think she never has. She hasn’t raised prices for about 10 or 15 years perhaps. But the financial crisis seems to have made everyone broke and people just can’t pay her consultations anymore. Some days she has zero appointments and it’s really costing her, not only financially. She is wonderful, really humane doctor as far as feedback reaches me even from third parties. But business (although Mom never called it such a thing) has been decreasing as I’ve explained. Any ideas to bring back more work to her? Thanks.

P.S: this is in Portugal where we have a National Health Service where people are flocking to these days even though the wait lists are growing and growing. There are people with health insurance but when she had the opportunity Mom did not apply to be partners with any insurance companies and when the crisis started to take hold they wouldn’t even get back to her anymore.

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11 Answers

CWOTUS's avatar

It’s too bad what is happening to your mother, but she has to realize that her business has to be run in a businesslike way. She may consider herself a “healing artist”, but she still has to cover expenses, make a payroll, pay rent, buy supplies, etc. In other words, she’s a business person, and she has to do business.

My own suggestion, not knowing anything about her way of doing business or what her current practice is like, would be to examine every possible way to cut expenses: move to a cheaper (not so nice, obviously) office, cut staff, minimize “processing” in every way possible, try to obtain donated equipment and supplies, and then treat patients for “cash only”, at prices much less than she thinks she “needs” right now. This is essentially how all for-profit business is run: the business has to turn a profit. Whatever the business builds, supplies, processes or touches, it has to make money. That’s the blood of any for-profit business.

On the other hand, she can attempt to work on a charity basis and request donations, but my guess is that this will simply kill her business completely.

Of course, emigration is also a possibility. Brazil surely needs doctors, and they speak Portuguese there.

Judi's avatar

In the US, there is a trend towards “Botique medicine.” Doctors who choose not to align themselves with insurance companies market themselves as elete physicians. For an annual fee they give out their cell phone numbers and promise to limit their practice to a specific number of patients. They still charge a small co pay for visits and appointments are always on time.

whitetigress's avatar

How about revamping the slogan? “Your family… since… real personal for a real you.” Something like that for a slogan/sign. Also advertising in the paper? Offer group discounts? Bring a friend receive Half off coupons, maybe something like that? Sponsoring some local sports events? Even if its bringing hot dogs or something… Hmm

JLeslie's avatar

I think @Judi has a great idea, but I am not sure it will work for OB, it is usually done by internists. If your mom is not going to not work the insurance companies, she needs tp set herself apart as having superior service, short wait tmes for an appointment, available by email, etc. In America most doctors offices give sucky service, I have paid many time to see doctors who do not take insurance when they were the one doctor that treated me well and were competant. In some countries, especially the thrid world, the socialized medicine is considered to be par or less than par, and people with money go outside the system. I don’t know if Portugal is like that? That would fit with targeting people who want superior service, who have the money to pay for it. Especially pregnant women maybe?

Aster's avatar

Play popular music in the waiting room , in the new, smaller waiting room with smaller rent.

jazmina88's avatar

Go into beauty regimes.
Spa.

JLeslie's avatar

Oh, at my GYN they have laser services for permanent hair removal and skin tightening. They use a Gentlemax machine.

cazzie's avatar

Does she have a lab or does she have to send everything out? If she can check simple things in her lab, she could offer things like blood-glucose checking, iron levels.. small things like that. She could market those services to people who don’t want to wait in long lines at the hospital or other public clinics.

She could make her self known to the prostitutes and offer them regular check ups for a package fee, with no judgement and no questions asked. That is an industry that usually doesn’t suffer too much down turn in times of economic crisis.

She could market herself as a fertility helper. If a woman is having trouble conceiving, they may not want to wait to get in to a public doctor. She could check the woman’s cycle and the mans sperm count (again, lab is needed….) and offer advice on conceiving, (or refer them on if it is something she can’t deal with), but more often than not, these two tests and a good pelvic exam can help a great deal.

If she is progressive, she could run sex education classes for young people. For a small fee, the parents could send their daughters/sons in to a class where they learn about sex and birth control. A handy way for parents to avoid ‘the talk.’ Obviously, they would be run separately.

I wish her well and hope she is able to keep her practice going.

JLeslie's avatar

@cazzie Those are some great suggesstions. Although, fertility experts are usually Reproductive Endocrinologists, but it might vary by country how much knowledge a GYN has regarding fertility.

cazzie's avatar

@JLeslie it depends on what conditions patients present and what lab tests she has quick and cheap access to. I don’t suggest she take on complex reproductive problems, but quick and simple answers she may be able to provide could answer some couple’s questions.

JLeslie's avatar

@cazzie Yes, I agree.

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