Yoga classes, spa treatments and … dental appointments?
Listings for medical treatments on daily deal sites such as Groupon and Livingsocial have exploded in the past year, according to Dan Hess, head of dealradar.com. His website aggregates daily deal listings from a variety of sites.
“As people get more comfortable using deals as a way to shop, the medical and dental procedures that they’re buying this way are getting more invasive and more expensive,” Hess said. “So we’ve come from tooth whitening and acupuncture to a world where people are regularly using deals to buy Lasik and Botox.”
Almost 10 percent of all the listings Hess sees are for medical treatments, up from 4 or 5 percent a year ago.
While dental cleanings and chiropractic services are popular listings, Hess said he has not seen appointments with family physicians listed–and does not anticipate to.
In the past year and a half, Dr. Leonard Tau, dentist with the Pennsylvania Center for Dental Excellence, has posted more than 20 deals with about half a dozen different sites.
“There’s no other form of marketing out there that can get patients in to your office, or potential patients in to your office, that many, at that rate,” Tau said.
Most recently, he offered teeth cleaning for $49, about an eighth of his usual price. He said the exposure is worth the reduced fee–about half of the patients who get cleanings come back.
“The very first two patients I’ve seen through Groupon back in June of last year are still patients here,” Tau said.
The American Dental Association is reviewing the ethical implications of dentists using the sites. Dr. Sally Cram, a Washington, D.C.- based periodontist and spokeswoman for the group, said the association is solidly against fee-splitting in which sites such as Groupon take a cut of the price people pay for appointments.
“It would be like paying someone to bring you patients,” Cram said. “And that is not the way you want to receive your patients if you’re a health-care provider.”
The association recommends vetting dentists found on daily deal sites the same way you would any other provider.