As podiatrists, many of us are not comfortable with the idea of selling anything in clinic, yet selling our services in professional foot care is something that we all do every day without a second thought. So why should it be any different with a clinical test? The introduction of the dermatophyte test strip into your clinic is an opportunity for you to not only to offer a something which is not “on the High Street” but also an opportunity for you to grow your business. "Work smarter not harder" the saying goes and this product can move you closer towards this goal.
"The product is unique and so by offering it, you are too!"
The Key to Selling a Product in Clinic
The key to a good product is something which the clinician believes works for their patients – simply translated, this means it has evidence of effectiveness. The test strip has been reviewed in two published papers and shown itself to be a rapid and accurate means to identify dermatophyte nail infection. Not only is it accurate, but it also solves an age old clinical problem. Up until now mycological diagnosis via the laboratory has been expensive, protracted and often disappointing. Yet, diagnosing fungal nail infection is something which should be professionally undertaken. Traditionally in podiatry practice, fungal nails have been diagnosed just by looking and clinical experience alone – but in today's world is that proper and ethical?
"An Evidence-based product"
Act like a Professional
If you were to visit a dermatologist tomorrow with a nail dystrophy it is extremely unlikely any diagnosis would be made without the proper tests or investigations. Why? Well visual diagnosis is not accurate. Even amongst experts at best, it is only correct two times out of three (according to published research). Moreover, by guessing a diagnosis carries the risk that you as a practitioner are delivering, undertaking or selling a treatment the patient does not need. Its is always surprising to see how many patients come into clinic and report previous diagnoses of fungal nail infection without any proper mycological testing at all. So, having the ability to undertake a proper test should not only re-assure the patient but also the practitioner that they are working ethically and to a high clinical standard - just as current guidelines recommend.
"Do the right thing and test it. Visual diagnosis risks making a misdiagnosis!"
The Price is Right
Of course, the price always comes into the equation. Mycological testing of any sort costs and you as a practitioner will have to meet that cost but through the business you should be marketing this to the patient to recoup your costs and make a profit accordingly. This is not a barrier but an opportunity and its is important to look how this fits with your pricing. I would always suggest that the costs of any mycological tests are built into your clinic fees but remember the patient is paying for your time as well as any associated tests. This is how it works in medicine – a consultant charging for their time and any extras alongside such as tests and investigations, it is part of the assessment process to ensure the right diagnosis is made and the right treatment is offered. So by offering the test at £40 you are doubling your money in just 5 minutes as well as making the diagnosis - good work for the time and effort involved.
So what are the top tips would I offer in introducing this clinical test?
Consider this as part of a treatment package, whether you use Clearanail®, laser or sell the patient topical lacquers this should be included into your package price.
Advertise this unique service in clinic – think about a poster or leaflets in the waiting area highlighting the problem of fungal nails. Many spouses and partners of patients wait in your waiting room and maybe undiagnosed. Obviously, your website and social media should also be place to announce your introduction of the test.
Be sure to discuss the importance of diagnosis with your patient and why you need to do this.
Equally important, is to offer choice to the patient. The traditional microscopy and culture service can still be used but when they weigh up the cost and time involved the test strip will probably be your better option.
Consider the full package. Sixty percent of over sixties have fungal foot infection. If you are going to treat onychomycosis, don’t forget to market your creams and sprays for tinea pedis as well. Remind patients that the evidence shows that both onychomycosis and tinea pedis are recurrent so its good to use the nail lacquer and topical creams long after the infection has departed – and don’t forget the monthly spray of shoes with terbinafine. Bundling a home treatment package of products can boost your sales.
Bear in mind you are offering a service which will be unique and not easily available elsewhere – even at the GP surgery, pharmacy or podiatrist down the road.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, with the Dermatophyte Test Strip you have the power to diagnose a common infection properly and offer immediate treatment plans to patients without the wait and the risk of losing them while waiting for the results to come back.
Finally, don’t forget to put together that anti-fungal product package of spray, cream and lacquer to help prevent return of fungal foot infection. This is a recurrent lifelong condition affecting over a third of the adult population, so the patient is always going to need it on hand when it returns. All of this shows you are serious about treatment, clinical standards and, just as importantly, your business.