Jason Brian is a lead-generation expert, based in Florida, who helps treatment centers find patients by running a website. He charges more — up to $1,000 a call — for prescreened leads (patients who have health insurance that the treatment center desires) and less — up to $125 — for raw leads. His advertisements are on television and on the Internet, and his call center fields the calls that come in from patients and family members looking for treatment.
His current business — Redwood Recovery Solutions — sells treatment leads at TreatmentCalls.com, which clearly lists its pricing policy.
We talked to him earlier this month about how his business works. Receiving more than 1,000 calls a day from people seeking treatment, he connects people with facilities the company partners with. After determining how many patients the facility can admit, what hours the facility accepts calls, and whether the facility can screen patient insurance and payment methods, Brian then customizes the facility’s needs and “filters” calls to identify prospective patients based on their insurance type (HMO or PPO) or treatment payment method (insurance or self-pay). Prices for filtered calls range from $149 to $1,000 per call, with filter methods determining price. “Raw calls” are much less expensive, but the more the treatment center pays, the higher the priority in getting a call. The standard minimum for a raw call is $25 to $67 a call. Average is a bit higher (up to $125) for raw calls.
Why can’t a prospective patient just call the treatment program they want to go to on their own? “The short answer is if I knew where I were going for treatment, I wouldn’t be on one of these sites in the first place,” Brian told ADAW. “They land on our site because they want an unbiased display of treatment facilities.” We pointed out that the display (it’s not actually a display, since callers don’t know the centers) is not unbiased, because it is only those programs that partner with Brian. But he said that treatment program sites are even more biased, because they “only tell me all of the good things” they do. Brian chooses which programs to partner with by gathering “high-level nonclinical information,” he said. If there is a desire for certain kinds of programs, for a certain geographical location, “we try to match that, along with the person’s ability to pay for treatment,” he said.
Before partnering with a treatment provider, Brian checks with “several consultants we’ve hired in the industry, we check the online presence to make sure they’re legitimate, and we check the online resources,” he said. “Most of the time, the treatment centers are good to go — very rarely do we find one that we don’t want to work with.”
Currently, there are about 100 physical locations of different treatment providers, said Brian, noting that his company has been in business for less than a year. “We anticipate to continue to grow,” he said. The vast majority are in Florida — 75 percent — and the ones that aren’t in Florida have a presence in Florida. For example, he said, Elements Behavioral Health has a “footprint” in Fort Lauderdale and other areas, but also in California and Texas.
It’s interesting that most of the facilities are in Florida, because most of the calls are from outside of Florida, said Brian. “Probably fewer than 20 percent of the calls are coming from Florida,” said Brian.
Avoiding patient brokering
Brian doesn’t look at out-of-network coverage, only at whether the insurance is HMO, PPO or self-pay, he said. The reason for this is to avoid the illegal and unethical practice of patient brokering, he said. “The way that the letter of the law reads is that when the person’s ability to pay comes into play, that borders close to patient brokering,” he told ADAW. In its rawest form, patient brokering is getting a fee for sending a patient to a specific treatment program. “So if I know that a patient is worth $20,000 compared to $50,000, I can assign a different value to the $50,000 patient,” he said. This would be patient brokering.
Here’s how the system works. For a raw call, if a patient sees a TV or Internet or radio ad that is one of Brian’s and they call the listed number, the system automatically routes that call to a treatment center. Filtered calls are different. “They come into a center in our office in West Palm Beach,” he said. “We talk to the client first, and then transfer that client based on those parameters.”
‘Risk-free’ for treatment centers
The benefit for treatment providers is that they do not have to take the risk of buying advertising, and hoping that a call that will come in that will convert to a patient whose treatment fees will help pay for the advertising, explained Brian. “Think of it as a sales funnel,” he said. “Instead of using ads that may or may not work and just trying to get the call, we pick up the risk,” he said. “This is a risk-free way to get the calls without the headache or the burden.”
From automotive to rehab
Brian’s most recent venture was in used car leads, and he has done similar work in six other industries, he said. “What we do is exclusively marketing, and we’re really good at what we do,” he said.
How did Brian get from automotive sales to addiction treatment? “I have a heart for the community and for philanthropy,” he told ADAW. “We sold the original part of our model about 15 months ago, and I said the next project we would do would be different.” He added that “when you’re a child, you don’t dream of selling automotive leads,” and “now I want to make a difference.” One of his close friends owned a treatment center — Brian would not say which center — and that’s where he piloted TreatmentCalls.com.
“This is relatively easy revenue,” said Brian.
What is the guarantee that a treatment program who pays for calls — raw or filtered — actually gets a paying patient as a result? “There is no guarantee,” answered Brian. “But if this doesn’t work for them, they’re not going to buy more calls.”
Brian stressed that “we’re not sending them a patient — we’re just marketing, and marketing legitimately.”
In some cases, television stations or others can be “affiliates,” in which case Brian doesn’t have to pay for the TV spot. Instead, the TV station gets a percentage of what he gets from the call. “There is no revenue sharing done between TreatmentCalls.com and treatment centers,” he said.
Similar businesses occur in legal advertising, as well as weight loss and other issues, said Brian. “Typically, those companies do it on behalf of a law firm,” he said. “What makes us different is the fact that people come to us and don’t know what treatment center they want to go to.”
We asked Brian why he doesn’t just list the treatment facilities on his website, so patients can look themselves. “Here’s the thing,” he said. “Of course the treatment center would love for the person to go directly to them, but they would only tell patients about the positive things, not the negative things.” Why is the identity of the treatment programs Brian works with a secret? “It’s not a secret,” he said. “But we don’t have a list — it’s not our business model.” He noted that the patient doesn’t have to pay anything for the call.
We also asked Brian for his opinion on the Recovery Brands-Seabrook-Elements lawsuit that settled this month (see ADAW, March 16). “I’m very familiar with both Elements and Recovery Brands, and from what I can glean from my relationship with both, they wouldn’t do anything intentionally unethical,” he said. He had no comment on Seabrook House, the New Jersey–based treatment program that sued Elements and Recovery Brands for trademark violation (see ADAW, Nov. 2, 2014).
A lead-generation company charges treatment centers up to $1,000 for calls from prospective patients.