Financial health is a core component of overall health.
The connection between financial stability and health is well established, and providing financial options can have positive ripple effects on various aspects of consumers’ lives.
That’s particularly when taking into account the fact that the consumer increasingly has to bear much of the cost for many health products and categories. That’s why giving people tools to afford the wellness and health products they need can help build consumer loyalty.
“Fifty percent of U.S. consumers consider wellness a top priority, but services like acupuncture, fitness programs, nutritional support and counseling are often considered elective and not covered by insurance,” Erin Gadhavi, senior vice president, general manager, wellness at Synchrony, told PYMNTS.
“Offering financing for those products and services is attractive to consumers,” Gadhavi said. “Patients can make an informed decision related to their care, but also with respect to their budget — leading to a more engaged and healthier customer base.”
The experience matters to consumers, and offering payment solutions that democratize access to health and wellness solutions can make a difference in their decision-making process.
Gadhavi noted that nearly half (45%) of Synchrony’s CareCredit card holders “would’ve postponed or decreased the scope” of their procedures if finance options hadn’t been a part of their patient journey.
Health providers and wellness brands that consider financing as a critical part of the consumer journey have higher patient satisfaction rates than those that don’t, she added.
Gadhavi provided as a successful example the partnership between CareCredit and Good Feet, a manufacturer of premium and personally fitted arch supports.
Since the partnership began in 2009, Good Feet has seen a 10% increase in average transaction total and a 35% increase in the total number of transactions. This demonstrates the power of loyalty and brand extension, she said, as 30% of Good Feet store sales are from existing CareCredit cardholders.
The success is due to the fact that flexible payment options increasingly play a crucial role in consumers’ decision-making process regarding health and wellness purchases.
With high-deductible health plans and increased out-of-pocket costs, patients need ways to manage their budgets and afford recommended care, Gadhavi said.
Financial options that make fitness programs, gym memberships and healthy food choices more affordable can also encourage individuals to adopt healthier lifestyles, reducing the risk of chronic diseases.
“There is trust and loyalty being built when the process is a good experience,” Gadhavi said. “The healthcare consumer is a smarter consumer today than ever before, they’re shopping around and they want to work with providers that not only deliver a solid healthcare experience, but also [work with] them on managing what the costs are going to be.”
That’s why it is essential for providers to communicate financing options throughout the patient journey, from the initial consultation to recovery, to ensure patients are aware of their choices and can make informed decisions.
“As a provider looks at the patient journey, they should be communicating with their patient every step of the way about costs … it helps patients better prepare financially,” Gadhavi said.
By adopting a transparent approach, providers can build trust and loyalty with patients, leading to higher satisfaction rates and repeat business.
“In today’s world, where patient responsibility for costs is on the rise and wellness products tend to fall in categories that aren’t covered by insurance, in order to help somebody be able to make healthier choices or be able to go forward in building out a holistic view of their healthcare, just having financing options where they can say yes more often is important,” Gadhavi said.
By listening to consumers, understanding their satisfaction levels and making necessary adjustments, providers can ensure patients have access to the care they need within their budget. This long-term approach fosters trust, loyalty and positive patient experiences, which are vital for sustainable business growth, she added.
That’s why offering financial options for wellness products and services — as well as communicating their availability — is crucial for not just improving health outcomes, but also for building customer loyalty and ensuring a sustainable business model.