Convenience: A Priceless Commodity for Your Practice
An Interview with Dr. Kristen O’Dell, ND
Some practitioners may still be unclear about the value of having an online dispensary like Wellevate. So we asked one of our top Wellevate customers, Dr. Kristen O’Dell, if she would be willing to share her experience with Wellevate and talk about benefits and insights she has gained in using our online dispensary. Dr. O’Dell is a Naturopathic Doctor running a busy private practice in Bedford, New Hampshire. One of our Medical Educators, Lisa Murray, RDN, LD, sat down with Dr. O’Dell for an interview.
L. Murray: Dr. O’Dell, has using an online dispensary helped your practice?
Dr. O’Dell: Yes it has. I have both in office and online dispensaries and find there are different benefits for the patient. I think having product on site is very important so that people leave the office visit with the right products in hand and can begin using them and seeing the health benefits right away. But when people run out of product, do they stay with that treatment plan and do they maintain, or do they fall off because they don’t take time to come into the office for product? Having a dispensary available online has been very helpful in the sense that they can purchase for themselves whenever necessary.
The fact that they can order their products whenever they need or want them, when it’s convenient for them, be it any time of the day or night, and have it shipped directly to their home, is much different than having to call me. When they call me I have to order it, wait for the shipment, let them know it’s here and then they have to come pick it up when I am open.
With Wellevate, they have control, and they don’t have to wait for me. Also, it’s helpful when I’m on vacation. I close the office for holiday breaks and with Wellevate, there is no lapse in coverage. People can still order and get their products quickly and that’s really important.
L. Murray: Do you have a customized dispensary or do you leave it open?
Dr. O’Dell: I leave it open because I always like people to self-advocate, to explore what’s available that they might be interested in. If we are just focusing on one or two health issues and we haven’t had time to talk about sunscreen, skin care or functional foods, they can explore on their own and try some things that we can talk about at our next visit. As a practitioner, it is impossible to cover everything in a single visit. Wellevate gives people exposure, a cross section, products they might find interesting— plus it encourages questions.
I like being able to see what my patients order, too. I look at my patients’ order histories frequently to see if someone is ordering something that might not be helpful for them or if someone I haven’t seen in a while is re-ordering because it’s another point of contact. I can send an email that says, “Hi Lisa, I see you’ve ordered your adrenal support again. I haven’t seen you in a year, is everything going ok?” Or, if someone orders something that might not be the right thing, I can call or email them and say, “I see you ordered this product that might not work well with your current treatment plan right now” or something along those lines. It keeps me in contact with my patients, knowing what they are doing and what’s going on.
L. Murray: What feedback have you received from patients who use Wellevate?
Dr. O’Dell: It’s much more convenient for them and has made things easier. For example, when patients go on vacation and need product sooner than expected or if patients have to cancel or miss an appointment, it takes time to book a new appointment. Meanwhile, they could run out of product and not be able to come pick it up. With Wellevate, they order anytime and have it shipped right to them. I don’t have to scramble last minute to try to somehow get product to them.
The other thing that has been a big success is the lower shipping rate or free shipping over $49. That is a huge benefit; shipping is one of the reasons people would go to Amazon Prime. Because in the past, someone may need more vitamin D and it’s $18.00, but it costs $9.00 to ship it. They might go somewhere else for their vitamin D. But now shipping isn’t such a deterrent. Also, if someone orders say $38 worth of product, and they know they’ll get free shipping if they order one more, then they might refill something early or look for additional products they want to try—maybe personal care items. This is what keeps things revolving.
L. Murray: Did you find that people were shopping on Amazon or other websites for their products?
Dr. O’Dell: Yes, a certain percentage. I make it a point to explain to people why I want them to take the products I recommend, including the importance of quality, independent testing and the difference between milligrams of herb in one product vs another. I educate them on window dressing and how dosage makes a big difference from a biochemistry standpoint. I also explain that there are “knock-off” products out there and they may not be getting the real product or that they might even get an impure product. If people do purchase from Amazon, I educate them and try to steer them towards products that are independently tested.
There can be frustration on both sides when patients are not getting better and I tell them to come back in and bring their products, only to realize they’ve swapped out products to a similar but less effective version.
L. Murray: What is the thing you like most about Wellevate?
Dr. O’Dell: Convenience, for both me and for my patients. Although I do want patients to leave with products they need right away, if it’s something I don’t have in stock, I used to have to order it for them and they would need to come back to pick it up. Now I show them how to use Wellevate during their visit. We order it together on the spot, it will be shipped right away to their home and they will have it in a few days. In any case, nobody leaves here unclear about how they are going to get that product. It’s also an opportunity to show them how Wellevate works and how to order appropriate products.
It is also nice to set the discount percentage by patient. I have some patients that order monthly and are on 3-5 supplements. It’s nice to be able to offer a discount to these patients. It creates loyalty when people know that you are willing to offer a discount for them so they can get what they need, save money and it’s convenient.
L. Murray: What advice or tips do you have for other practitioners about using an online dispensary?
Dr. O’Dell: I think as professionals we sometimes feel uncomfortable making a profit on our products, but I don’t feel uncomfortable with that and I feel I am fair. There is a lot of work we do outside of the patient visit that we are not paid for. Email correspondence, phone calls between visits, ordering additional lab work, reviewing test results, ordering supplements, managing supplement/Rx reactions or side effects where they need a different replacement product, etc. These are things I do that take up time that I do not bill for. I’m comfortable generating income from supplement sales because it compensates me not only for my knowledge but also my time, which has value.
L. Murray: Why would you encourage practitioners to try an online dispensary?
Dr. O’Dell: The biggest mistake new practitioners often make is that patients leave without making a follow-up appointment or they leave without a clear understanding of how they’re getting products. That’s just not going to grow your business. You shouldn’t let a patient walk out of your office without a very clear plan of action because they really do want to get better. And if you don’t do everything you can to ensure their success, then that’s going to translate as “That doctor didn’t help me get better”.
Dr. O’Dell’s medical practice, Bedford Natural Medicine, provides naturopathic care for the whole family and serves Southern New Hampshire and Northern Massachusetts. To learn more about Dr. O’Dell and Bedford Natural Medicine, visit her website at bedfordnaturalmedicine.com.