The healthcare and fitness sectors are perfectly poised for subscriptions, and there is plenty of room for growth among the different areas of the industry. Over the past few years, digital transformation has revolutionised the healthcare and fitness industries in significant ways, including self-service client portals, smart wearables and an enhanced focus on the online client experience. Technology is not only improving patient outcomes, but also helping healthcare and fitness businesses manage key operational processes such as finances, client management and marketing.
One of the changes which promises a lot for the industry is recurring billing. Subscription business models have managed to permeate the healthcare space through concepts such as direct primary care in the US. Whilst subscriptions are in no way a new business model, there is still huge potential to explore the use of subscription models in the self-pay market.
The Subscription Revolution
To understand the opportunity, we first have to take a step back and see the change in consumer behaviour patterns. Looking back across the last 5 years, companies like Amazon and Netflix have more than tripled their subscription service members – remember we are talking hundreds of millions of users here. Whilst the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated adoption of online shopping, subscription-based businesses have also been boosted by the rise of smartphone use. Infact, the average person now spends over 4 hours per day on their smartphone and 57% of consumers now have three or more monthly subscriptions.
Subscription-based models allow customers to hop-on and hop-off of services. It gives them the flexibility to try out new products and services, and easily switch services if it suits them better. It is also a customer-first business model which allows users to pay a small amount to try out a new product or service, instead of a significant upfront amount for something which they may not even use. Additionally, subscriptions also promote customer loyalty and predictable revenues to service providers which helps to sustain business without compromising on customer experience. It is a positive sum game where both parties benefit out of the model.
So, how do subscription services and customer-first experiences relate to the healthcare and fitness industry?
Patients as consumers of healthcare services
With TM3 Connect, we wanted to ensure that healthcare and fitness businesses had the tools to transform patients into consumers of healthcare services. Subscriptions allow patients to access healthcare services at affordable rates by paying recurring fees every month, every quarter or every year depending on their preferences and your requirements.
Clinics and studios on the other hand, are guaranteed recurring income every month helping them to focus on delivery of services, instead of worrying about revenue. This means they can spend more quality time with clients and establish patient loyalty which will be better for business in the long term. Subscriptions and packages also allow you to offer ‘taster sessions’ of new services to your clients, enhancing client satisfaction and making your business ‘stickier’.
The current state of subscriptions in the healthcare industry
Whilst some areas of the healthcare and fitness industries have been slow to adopt subscription models, we have seen a gradual transition to multidisciplinary setups offering a whole-body approach to wellness. Additionally, many business owners are now establishing the view of prevention and maintenance over treatment, promoting clients to visit more regularly rather than being reactive to issues.
Let’s took a look at some notable examples of the subscription model:
Global healthcare company Falck offers subscription services which cover GP visits, medical services, MSK visits and value-added services such as vaccinations, baby healthcare and rehabilitation. The company has 1 million subscribers in Latin America alone for medical and healthcare services.
MediCover, a Poland-based company, has subscription packages ranging from basic healthcare and prevention to speciality consultations, advanced diagnostics and rehabilitation services. These subscriptions start from as low as 1 PLN per day.
SevaMob, a company based in India, is helping families with low incomes through a cost-effective subscription-based model which provides healthcare services at their doorstep.
Another Indian company, Practo, offers a common platform for doctors, clinics, hospitals and patients to interact with each other. Their healthcare app offers several subscription services to cater to the needs of the different stakeholders involved.
UK-based Babylon offers telemedicine services which include access to doctors, health monitoring and advice.
Talkspace is another innovative healthcare business in the US, providing access to therapists and mental health counsellors through flexible payment options.
These different businesses have demonstrated that subscription-based models can be applied across a range of multidisciplinary healthcare services. In fact, direct primary care is being touted as the ‘future of healthcare in some circles where instead of insurance covering routine visits and medicines, a recurring membership fee covers the needs of the clients.
Apart from increasing healthcare access, these different types of subscriptions create a more economical, reliable and sustainable solution for both clients and businesses in the long run.
The road ahead…
It’s time for the healthcare and fitness industries to take the plunge and make subscriptions the default model rather than the exception. When you think of the healthcare industry, you tend to think of curative healthcare. However, a big part of the industry also includes preventive healthcare such as routine review appointments, classes and nutrition, all of which are well suited to the subscription billing model. Many different subscription plans can be offered around preventive healthcare solutions with built-in incentives to promote healthy living.
We have always said that subscription models follow a customer-first mindset, and the healthcare and fitness industries are no different. With interest in subscription businesses growing 800% from 2015 to 2020, the time has come for mass adoption of the model in the healthcare sector as well. So, who will become the ‘Netflix’ of healthcare and fitness? Only time will tell.
To learn more about tailored subscriptions and packages on TM3. Click here to arrange a demo, or click here for a bespoke quote.