For most people, the idea of paying an annual subscription to access a healthcare service is completely alien. They pay their insurance premiums or, if they are uninsured for a particular therapy, pay when they require it.
As Radiant grew, we realized that we had the safest, most consistently effective, most appealing solution to the big problem of chronic pain, through technology, based upon the latest scientific understanding of chronic pain – that is a problem of the brain not the tissue. For various reasons, including a lack of understanding around the science and economic disincentives to adopti it, this approach has been ignored by mainstream medicine and lacks viable insurance coverage. In order for us to scale this therapy on large scale, we needed to make it affordable to most people. We needed to think differently and operate outside of the confines and drivers of traditional healthcare delivery.
How The Therapy at Radiant is Different?
Despite successful studies undertaken both at the Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins University, the technology we use at Radiant, which is known in the medical literature and by the FDA as Scrambler Therapy has been ignored and misunderstood by most mainstream medicine. This is due to a lack of understanding based upon the fact that most clinicians are trained in old pain science published in the 1960s, and an economic disincentive to move away from current approaches because they get paid for, despite not being very effective, and in some cases risky and addictive.
The scientific understanding of pain, chronic pain in particular has changed dramatically in the last few years. We now know chronic pain is a neurogenic or brain-driven problem. Often in chronic pain the tissue is healed and not the problem. Yet, most of the therapies widely available, address only the tissue or they’re a drug with side effects and risks because they affect the entire chemistry of the body.
Our approach allows us to retrain the brain though artificial “no pain” nerve impulses, delivered non-invasively via electrodes on the skin. This new “no pain” information, along with the brain’s ability to learn, neuroplasticity, allows us to retrain the brain and restore it back to a more normalized perception of pain. Relief is usually profound and becomes lasting, but it requires repeated 1-hour daily sessions typically for a few weeks to change the brain. Periodic booster treatments, like refresher courses to reinforce the neuroplastic changes of the brain and often needed to maintain the results perpetually.
Delivering this type of therapy requires a patient to sit for an hour, for which a clinician can command a relatively minimal amount of a few hundred dollars. Compare this with the economics of a single injection therapy, as an example, which takes about fifteen minutes of physician time and earns the doctor $1,000 to $2,000. Even the normal office visit billings and the room turn over rates seen by most clinicians would be more lucrative in 1 hour than an hour on this therapy.
Economically speaking, the difference is dramatic, even more so when we understand that this therapy is a process, not a procedure, meaning that the process of retraining the brain takes time. Some clients may need more initial treatments, some less. Some will need infrequent boosters, some more. It is an individual process that unfolds over time and requires a frequency of visits, initially and ongoing, which is different than what most existing clinics are set up to accommodate.
In addition, administering the therapy represents a considerable opportunity cost for physicians, and requires trained technicians who confidently prepared for the dynamic realities of dealing with chronic pain sufferers in all their complexity, in order for the outcomes to be consistent.
We knew that we could use Scrambler Therapy (and new technologies that we’re currently developing) to deliver value. The question was whether we could create a pricing model that worked for us and our clients. At the end of the day, the math had to work. If it didn’t, it wouldn’t matter how effective the treatment was, it wouldn’t take off.
When we began, we had a pricing structure in place based upon what I had seen in my previous roles in the hearing aid industry. Underlying that pricing was a belief that “price is only an issue in the absence of value,” meaning that value is really the determining factor.
“Value” is a relative term. For some, there is value in spending $200 on a shirt—because of its material, craftsmanship, style, fit, brand name, etc. To others, spending $200 on a shirt seems like a ridiculous thing to do, when a $19 shirt would do an equally fine job, covering the body and fulfilling its purpose. With that in mind, we understood that no matter how we priced our therapy, some people would say it was “too expensive,” i.e. not valuable enough. And perhaps others would be so pleased to have their life back that they would literally be willing to pay anything.
A unique aspect of this type of brain retraining therapy is that, when a course of treatment commences, it is unknown exactly how many will initially be needed and what the frequency and quantity of boosters will be. Therefore, we look at each patient’s needs in snapshots of one year. This longer horizon of twelve months changes the perspective from both a therapy standpoint and a care delivery standpoint, which allows us to also change how we think about pricing.
Hitting upon a Feasible Model via Trial and Error
We recognized that this type of therapy, and the science that underlies it, is a very different proposition from the pain treatments that most of our clients had already experienced, so initially we offered both a free introductory “demo” session and package pricing. We gave all qualified clients (meaning that the client didn’t have a disqualifying condition such as being pregnant or having an implanted medical device such as a pacemaker) a free demo treatment and a presentation on the therapy, in which we explained the process of daily treatment sessions and periodic boosters. The pricing package we offered gave clients the option to pay for each session as they went, or to buy a package of ten sessions for a discount of 20 percent.
Most clients, seeing the value of the therapy following the free demo, bought the package. But having a package of ten sessions created its own unique challenges, which we hadn’t anticipated. Ten became a magic number.
If optimal relief was achieved prior to ten sessions, clients often requested a refund on unused sessions. If clients required more than ten sessions, they were often disappointed because they had anticipated that purchasing a package of ten sessions implied that ten would fully resolve their pain, which was not always the case. Even those for whom exactly ten sessions were optimal faced a dilemma. When their pain began to return, and they needed a booster treatment session, they often delayed as long as possible.
By the time they were desperate enough to call us, they were often in as much pain as they had been when we first saw them. That’s if we saw them at all—many decided that the therapy hadn’t really helped because they found themselves back in pain some many weeks or months down the road, forgot the profound relief that they had achieved, and chose to not return. It was a model that didn’t serve the client or the company. To resolve this problem, we changed our thinking around price to better reflect the fact that our therapy is a process and moved our pricing to a model similar to a gym membership, which gives clients access throughout the year.
This membership model accomplishes at least two valuable things:
- It makes treatment more affordable by spreading the cost out over time.
- It encourages the appropriate level and necessary use of the process, which results in better outcomes and happier clients.
Accessibility and Affordability
The annual membership model makes treatment at Radiant very affordable because the bulk of the cost of therapy is capped and spread out over the year, with a variable cost per treatment for heavier use that increases the price modestly and appropriately. While every client may have a slightly different pattern of use and total number of sessions needed, a common number of treatments is around twenty sessions, with ten to fifteen sessions taking place in the first few weeks, and a few sets of boosters in the remaining eleven months. On the basic membership, the cost of this averages out to around ten dollars a day. For the cost of a couple of lattes each day, we can get and maintain relief—safely, consistently, and significantly.
This model encourages members to commit to a full course of treatment and to return when they need to. Even though there is a cost, most clients tell us that it’s the best investment they’ve made in the management of their pain. Of course, the value they receive in reclaiming their lives from the shackles of chronic pain is, for many, priceless.
To better understand our therapy, and the thinking and creativity that has gone into building a safer, more consistently effective and appealing solution to the epidemic of chronic pain, please visit www.radiantrelief.com or check out my Amazon Best Selling book, Radiant Relief, A Case For A Better Solution To Chronic Pain. Join with us as we work to change the way chronic pain is understood and treated.