The COVID-19 crisis is having major impacts on group practices and patient bases, and extraordinary approaches to surviving and ultimately reviving the dental marketplace are critical. Group practices should consider implementing a dental membership plan now as part of their recovery strategy.
Patients will want to address their oral health when the crisis lifts, but they will be sensitive to price. Many of them will have lost benefits or experienced financial hardships. Having a dental membership plan in place will enable your patients to access the simple and personalized care they need in a budget-friendly way.
In addition to making it easier for patients to get the care they need, your practice will also thrive. If your membership plan is designed and priced correctly for each location, your plan patients will visit two to three times more than uninsured patients and generate twice the revenue. Additionally, your practice will be set up for long-term success and stability by establishing a source of recurring revenue through your subscription plan.
Now is the time to implement your dental membership plan, and this article summarizes proven best practices for the proper rollout across your group practice enterprise.
Membership Plans for Group Practices
When was the last time you bought something online without checking Amazon Prime? Did you see that new hit series on Netflix last week? These thoughts and behaviors are a direct result of the membership club effect. Only a few years ago membership clubs were limited to a few consumer categories. Today, almost everything we consume is available with a monthly or yearly subscription. Dentistry is no different.
Dental membership plans were introduced in recent years and have quickly become a strategic alternative to their predecessor, dental discount plans. Membership plans trump discount plans because they offer simplicity, flexibility and affordability—all without the hassles and constraints that come with third-party administration. However, dental membership plans must be implemented and managed correctly across a group enterprise in order to be successful.
After analyzing thousands of dental plan customer experiences, three strategies have emerged to help you reduce risk, eliminate friction and set your group practice up for success.
Strategy #1: Get Team Buy-In Across All Locations
Avoiding pitfalls and common mistakes is critical to the success of a dental membership plan. And one of the most frequent snafus is failure to secure buy-in from the entire office team.
Implementing a membership plan affects everyone across the practice, and at every location—front desk and office support staff, hygienists and dentists. Changes that impact their routines and processes may be met with resistance if they don’t understand the rationale for the plan and the benefits for all involved.
Membership plans are great for both patients and the practice. More patients get the care they need, at an affordable price, without the interference of a middleman insurer. Practices see patients more often, drive more production and generate more revenue. Enthusiasm for dental membership plans multiplies when all stakeholders fully understand these benefits.
Second, instead of using a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach, work with each office team to discuss their unique patient demographics and develop plans based on their needs. Office teams know their patients best. They understand patient habits, behaviors and needs.
Here are three questions to review with each office team:
- What is important to the staff and dentists?
- What are the financial demographics of their patient base?
- What procedures do dentists want to include in their plans?
As an example, Pennsylvania is an economically diverse state. Some zip codes are in the top 10 percent of wealth while others are in the bottom 10 percent. What if you told office teams in each economic group they needed to offer the same dental plans to their customers? Wealthy office patients would sign up for a more expensive plan while low-income patients may not even be able to afford it. Either way, the dental membership plan would not work. In this case and almost every state in the U.S., the customization for each location will be critical for a successful membership plan.
Strategy #2: Focus on Implementation and Training
When planning implementation and training, the first step is to evaluate current processes for enterprise-wide rollouts of technology platforms. Are current implementation procedures effective? If not, what are the issues and lessons learned?
The next step is to know the personalities and structure of practice locations in the group. Some practices are consistently high performers, while others are average or underachievers. Knowing the differences will support development of a flexible business model that accommodates various needs and learning styles. Strive to get everyone on the same level so they understand the platform and know how to sell the plans and utilize the tools in the platform. Knowing how easy it is to do daily tasks such as upgrading, downgrading or changing plans will help drive adoption.
Also, staff training in dentistry is more complicated than other businesses because “dentistry happens.” Had a great plan for the noon training when that patient came in with a broken tooth? Plan over! Offering a flexible and nimble approach is critical to success. A number of training models are effective including:
- Self-paced training with online videos and tutorials
- Virtual hands-on training with step-by-step instruction
- Train-the-trainer approach
Strategy #3: Manage to a Successful Deployment
As stated earlier, your high performers will perform. But how do you get the average and underachieving offices to perform better? Key to the success of this initiative is the ability to set goals, monitor progress and adjust your plan as needed. Because you sat shoulder to shoulder with the team to build the plans, they have a vested interest in its success. Here are three questions to ask once the membership plan is deployed:
- How many uninsured patients do we have today?
- What percentage do we want to sign up for a plan?
- How is the team feeling about selling plans to patients?
One Kleer practice saw the office team offer their plan only to a select few patients. However, every patient offered the plan enrolled. During one quarter, 70 of the practice’s 380 patients joined the plan. Those 70 patients generated an additional $731 per patient for the practice. Once this was uncovered, the practice quickly changed their approach and offered membership plans to all uninsured patients. This provided an opportunity to generate over $226,000 in patient revenue.
As an added requirement, your membership plan partner should be able to monitor each practice’s penetration rate. For example, if the practice goal is to enroll seven of every ten patients, the membership plan dashboard should track and report progress toward that metric. Ongoing data to analyze should include:
- How many members are enrolled?
- What type of care plan did they purchase?
- How much revenue has been generated?
- What are my renewal rates?
Rely on your membership plan partner to help you manage this information on a daily and real-time basis. As a DSO or group practice, you should be able to perform analytics for each practice, each region and the overall group.
Rolling out initiatives like a new membership plan platform can be challenging. But we see this as an opportunity to change the game, especially in today’s climate. By building a plan from the ground up, with your team’s input and guidance, you can position them to succeed.
Implement a membership plan now to prepare for the future. Read Kleer’s 3-step guide for group practice success.
Now is a great time to implement a membership plan at your group practice. Learn 3 simple ways to make sure your business succeeds in this step-by-step guide from Kleer: “A Guide to Ensure Your Group Practice Dental Membership Plan Succeeds.”
Kleer’s advanced, cloud-based platform includes everything your group practice needs to easily design, quickly implement and globally manage a dental membership plan. One-size-fits-all membership plans don’t always work for group practices, and that is why Kleer tailors care plans, fee schedules and subscriptions for each office location. Plus, Kleer is simple to use for your practice, offices and patients and includes all the great features you want.
Written by Jack Kramer, COO of Kleer. In his role, Kramer leads sales and support teams that consistently exceed operating goals and ensure customers and partners receive significant benefits and five-star support. And, he has played an integral role in developing Kleer’s membership plan solution for group practices. For further questions about membership plans powered by the Kleer platform, go to https://www.kleer.com/group-practices or reach out to Jack directly at [email protected].
Read other Kleer articles:
Making a Dental Membership Plan Work for a Group Practice
Why Corporate Initiatives Will Fail, Including Your Dental Membership Plan—and What You Can Do
Increase Your DSO Case Acceptance by Offering a Membership Plan and Improving Patient Communication
The Group Dentistry Now Show: The Voice of the DSO Industry – Episode 2
5 Reasons Why Membership Plans are Key to Boosting Your DSO’s Profitability
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