The Oregon Board of Dentistry has banned the use of Groupons by the states dentists... and Oregon's chiropractors have followed suit.
Groupon seems to be an either love them or hate them marketing tactic as shown in the very strongly worded comments on our post Are Groupon Deals Killing Your Medical Spa.
Here's the Groupon that started the debate:
And here's the Board of Dentistry's newsflash banning Groupons for Oregon dentists.
!!NEWSFLASH!! Internet Coupon Advertising!!! Please Read!!
The Board has recently become aware of different companies soliciting Oregon licensees to enter into contracts for marketing promotional services between the licensee in the company to promote voucher systems for potential patients. The Board has preliminarily determined that these may violate the unprofessional conduct rule OAR 818-012-0030(3) which prohibits offering rebates, split fees, or commissions for services rendered to a patient to any person other than a partner, employee or employer.
The Board suggests that until this can be fully reviewed by the board, licensees proceed with caution and if they feel necessary seek legal counsel on this matter or contact board office at (917) 673-3200.
Source: Oregon Board Of Dentistry
Of course the Oregon Board of Dentistry is not the only professional organization to come down against Groupon. The Oregon Board of Chiropractic Examiners (OBCE) also decided not to amend its fee splitting rule to exclude such sites as Groupon and Amazon's Living Social.
OBCE decides not to amend fee-splitting rule
Groupon Issue July, 25, 2011
The Oregon Board of Chiropractic Examiners (OBCE) declined to begin rule making to amend the prohibition on fee-splitting on their July 21st meeting at the University of Western States. This decision means Groupon type fee-splitting arrangements are still prohibited for chiropractic physicians.
The OBCE has been reviewing the issues of group bond and similar Internet or other marketing programs for several months. They had potential draft language produced by the administrative rules advisory committee along with the dissent by one of their members outlining the potential problems with the language. (Note: The Summer 2011 Back Talk quoted testimony in support of Groupon.)
Arn Strasser DC, appeared before the OCBE and made a statement in opposition of changing the rule stating, "... the question is what the schemes such as group on, where we would join restaurants, nail parlors and tanning salon, along with medical providers such as dentist and cosmetic surgeons, due to our credibility and how the public perceives us? In my opinion, offering discounted services in the fee splitting away with companies such as group on undermines our credibility..."
OCBE members were concerned that changing the rule with the potential for problems and unintended consequences. They cited the difficulty in trying to craft a workable exemption.
The OCBE also heard that two other such marketing programs have changed their set up for health professionals from a fee splitting arrangement to vastly marketing program ( living social and Fox 12 daily deal). OCBE members wondered why group on could not do the same thing? (The question has been posed the group on but no answer has been received yet. ) they felt it would be better if the advertisers change their program for health professionals, instead of the OCBE amending the fee splitting rule prohibition.
Source: The Oregon Board of Chiropractic Examiners (OCBE)
So is this it? The start of a global Groupon boycott that will eventually spread from Oregon dentists and chiropractors to medical spas and laser clinics in every state and end the daily deals industry?
I doubt it. We expect this is pretty much a medical industry issue--perhaps one that will be limited to Oregon (although we suspect other states will now be looking at it, too). But it does impact Groupon's total market opportunity somewhat.
It does surprise me that it's the dentists and chiropractors that seem to be taking the lead on this and not the physicians.
Thoughtful comments welcome.
Recommended reading: Are Groupon Deals Killing Your Medical Spa