Secure your patient, secure your income
Gary Nelson from Quality Plan explains that putting your patients at the centre of your thinking is key to a successful bespoke plan
The current marketplace
The dental market during 2010 has seen many changes. There is no doubt that the general public have been looking closely at their finances and how best to manage their budgets. Private fee per item adult patients have been spreading their appointments out to a
nything from 12-24 months between visits. This has had an obvious impact on the appointment books and cash flow forecasts.
Dental practices, the same as every other business sector, have to become more customer-focused to survive. Many practices that embraced patient-focused dental care have actually grown through all the upheaval and turmoil of the last 12 months.
The successful practices
The practices that have been successful during the last 12 months have been focused on providing services and products that are wanted and needed by their patient base, for example with dental health plans.
Dental practices throughout the country have found that during the tough economic times, their dental plans have been a key growth factor and have ensured steady and constant appointment books. The most popular type of dental plan during the last few years has been the bespoke dental membership plan.
Membership plans have proven popular with patients. The plan provides them with their essential dental treatment, typically two examinations and dental hygiene visits and routine X-rays for an affordable monthly amount. If they then require any additional routine dental work or indeed request any cosmetic dentistry they may then have the reward of 20 per cent lower prices. In addition, most plan providers provide your patient with worldwide dental accident and emergency insurance as an added benefit.
Essential to the dental plan’s success is the branding of the plan. In my opinion, dental plan literature should be self- branded with your logo and your identity. Patients identify with and trust your brand and are therefore more likely to join your plan than a dental plan from “some other company”, as they might see it.
Remove any financial barriers to attendance
By having a practice branded plan in place you could remove financial barriers for your patients. They may be able to afford or budget €12 or £12 per month but €80 or £80 for an exam and hygiene visit in any given month might put the monthly finances under too much pressure. Result – they are simply put off going to the dentist.
Care does need to be taken when setting your prices for a dental plan, consider both the monthly amount and the private fee rates. If these rates aren’t set correctly then you could lose money. My advice would be to always seek help from an experienced dental plan provider who knows and understands the business, and indeed, the demographics of your area – one cap most certainly does not fit all.
Patient-centred dental care is key to all you do. Are you offering the products and services they want and need?
Are you removing financial obstacles to access your level of dental care?
Budgeting is key for patients. Are you providing the opportunity?
Next time I will talk about how to communicate dental plans with your patients and team.
About the author
Gary Nelson is the founder and owner of Quality Plan NI, for more information, visit http://www.qualityplan.co.uk