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December 14, 2018

Your Spring Marketing Campaign

If you run a practice that makes its living on elective care, odds are you are buried right now as we are deep into Deductible December.  Your schedules are packed. Though right now you are not worried about volume, you know the January slow down always comes.

Well, I am here to help.  It is time to start thinking about your February, March and April marketing campaign.  What?  You don’t have this plan done yet?  Well, shake a leg.

A recent policy brief in Health Affairs reviews some fascinating data provided by the JPMorgan Chase Institute.  JPMCI mashed together some of their giant banking transaction datasets and found some really interesting insights into how unexpected cash inflows impact the utilization of healthcare.

Can you figure out why this is going to lead to an early spring marketing push?

Yep, tax refunds. 

It turns out that 70% of tax filers receive a refund and for most of those, that is the single largest cash infusion into their bank account throughout the entire year.

Now, want to guess what they do with that money? 

They go shopping. 

For healthcare. 


Account holders in the JPMCI dataset increased their healthcare out-of-pocket spending by 60% over their normal levels in the week after receiving their tax refund.  Wow!  Total out-of-pocket healthcare spending in the 75 days immediately after the IRS check got deposited was 20% above the baseline throughout the rest of the year.

The banking folks can also tell if the payment was made in person or remote in some fashion because their data know whether the card was physically present when it was processed.  For these tax-refund driven healthcare payments (those in that first 75 days), 62% of the time it was in person.  That suggests that the patient is paying for care they are getting that day, not paying off bills for prior services.

Which suggests that patients defer elective care until they get some extra cash, then they go get it right away.  Another cut at the data seems to help confirm this as early filers who get their refund in February spend 38% more than the baseline in the 75-day post-deposit window. 

Do people really hustle to get their tax return done so they can use the refund cash to go get and pay for the healthcare they need?  At some level, apparently so.

So, how’s that for actionable insight?  Get your marketing machine going now so that your spring schedules will be full.

You’re welcome.

Tim Coan
Tim Coan

CEO and founder

Tim Coan, ALN’s CEO, writes an insightful and witty blog weekly about a variety of topics relevant to independent physician practices.