Doctors offer discount services through social media

In addition to Facebook and Twitter, healthcare companies are also using online discount coupon sites like Groupon to promote their services, attracting a large number of uninsured people with their bargain prices, reports the Baltimore Sun.

In fact, nearly 15 percent of Groupon deals nationwide are for healthcare services, Julie Anne Mossler, a spokeswoman for the Chicago-based company, told the Sun. The website offered discounted eye exams, teeth-cleaning, electrolysis and chiropractic services, among others.

Katzen Eye Group promoted an exam and glasses deal for $50 via a Groupon deal-of-the-day email sent to tens of thousands of Baltimore area subscribers and millions nationwide. The offer "greatly exceeded our expectation," and attracted more than 300 patients, CEO Richard Edlow told the Sun.

But healthcare providers must bear in mind that sites like Groupon can just as easily deter clients, as companies can't control how their services or brands are conveyed on social media outlets, notes the Sun. For example, customers can post about a bad experience on Twitter or Facebook for others to see.

In addition, offering discount services can pose a financial risk. Companies could lose money if an offer becomes too popular, Chad Capellman, director of social media for Genuine Interactive, told iHealthBeat.

And as with other social media tools, healthcare companies must make sure they obey privacy laws when posting information to online discount websites, he added.

For more:
- read the Baltimore Sun article
- check out the iHealthBeat article