Are retail products right for your practice?

Are retail products right for your practice?

Given that there are only so many patients you can squeeze into the appointment schedule each day, the amount of revenue that your practice can generate is limited. Unless, that is, you find sources of income that are not dependent on doctor/patient face-to-face time. The decision to sell retail products in your practice is one that requires careful consideration. Some professional organizations frown on the idea, noting that a practitioner’s clinical judgment and recommendations might be influenced if he or she is, for example, selling nutritional supplements to patients. That said, plenty of healthcare professionals do offer retail items such as vitamins and supplements, skin care and cosmetic lines, oral care products, exercise equipment, and even prescription medications to their patients.

If you’re considering carrying retail products in your practice, study the guidelines and opinions put forth by your specialty and professional organizations so that you’ll be making an informed decision. Find out what the standards of practice are in your local area, as well. If you’re surrounded by very conservative practitioners, none of whom offer retail products, you may be viewed as a bit of a rebel if you choose to go down that road. That’s not to say that you won’t make the decision to move forward, but know that you might get pushback from colleagues, some of whom may question your ethics. If, however, you scan the horizon and find that you’re the only chiropractor in town who’s not offering retail products and there is something out there that you genuinely believe will benefit your patients, go for it.

If you decide to offer retail products in your office make sure that they are high quality, have scientific evidence that backs up their safety and efficacy, and that the benefits they tout are in no way misleading to patients. Be careful that the products you offer do not interfere with your clinical decision-making. There is an old saying that “when you have a hammer everything looks like a nail.” Don’t fall into the trap of recommending your brand of supplements or skin care products or whatever to everyone who walks through the door.

Consider the logistics of carrying retail products before jumping in with both feet. Do you have adequate storage and display space? Are you prepared to collect state and local sales tax on the items you sell and file the associated paperwork as required? Would your staff get on board with the program and be able to handle the added work related to offering products? How will you handle patients who purchase your products and then are not satisfied with the results they produce? How much additional income do you stand to gain by selling products, and is that amount worth the investment and effort involved? All of these factors should be given careful thought before adding retail products to your practice.