A revised version of this article originally appeared in the NCDS Gazette, a publication of the North Carolina Dental Society
Case acceptance is a pain point for most dental practices, and struggling to increase it takes time and resources you just may not have. Patients are increasingly aware of the difference between education and marketing – no matter how professional your staff, when you present a treatment plan, it sends the “someone’s trying to sell me something” signal. It can erode trust, even the most compassionate office cultures.
Enter: in-house dental membership plans.
Among the many ways dental membership plans can help make your office a success – we’ve explored reducing patient attrition in Dental Economics – they’re proven to help increase case acceptance. Here are just a few ways in-house plans can help restore your patients’ willingness to sign on the dotted line, so your practice stays healthy and your patients get the treatment they need.
Savings are more apparent and immediate.
Of the uninsured patient market, only 20% actually visit the dentist. The primary reason the other 80% are staying away? Not pain in their mouths, oddly enough, but pain in their wallets. Many folks simply aren’t willing to spend on dental care even if they’re able. With affordable monthly or annual plans and basic preventive care included, dental membership plans are a perfect way to reach that untapped market. And when it’s time for more costly work, they’ll be more willing to say yes to the treatment they need.
Creates stronger relationships between patient and practice.
When considering patient offerings, keep in mind that dental membership plans offer a significant advantage over dental discount plans and even dental insurance plans: the patient’s loyalty is to your practice, not a third-party program or insurance company. And when patients are accustomed to visiting your practice for routine cleanings, they’ll be more likely to say yes to additional procedures they need, rather than shopping around.
Customized plans anticipate patient needs.
You know your patient population better than anyone. A customizable dental maintenance plan helps you anticipate their needs. For example, if folks tend to walk in the door with gum issues, your practice may want to include periodontal services in your plan. When a patient already sees you for routine perio cleanings, they’ll receive a discount on more significant work they’re already prepared to pay for.
Attract seniors while building trust.
There’s no question seniors face additional dental challenges - the longer you’ve been using your teeth, the more care they might need, right? Plus, many seniors no longer carry dental insurance and pay out of pocket. And in an increasingly frustrating healthcare landscape, seniors also face some very real fears around unfamiliar business models that seem too good to be true. That said, this patient group may also be more easily able to afford the restorative work they need. A dental maintenance plan that offers seniors a higher discount on the basics assures them you’re focused on their care, not their dollars.
Less time between recall appointments.
If you look at your uninsured patients, chances are they’re not coming to your office every six months for their cleaning. More likely, you’re seeing them once a year, or maybe two, or maybe just when their teeth hurt. Of uninsured patients, those with a dental membership plan are 80% more likely to return for cleanings, at more regular intervals. In fact, dental membership plans help increase the frequency of cleanings - often approaching every six months, rather than waiting a year or much longer. That makes your patients more comfortable trusting your treatment recommendations, and up to 50% more willing to pay for them.
When you integrate a customizable dental membership platform into your business, you’ll be giving your practice the easy, time-saving tools it needs to boost case acceptance rates. Dr. Brett Wells, DentalHQ's CEO, first built a membership plan for his uninsured patients into his practice 9 years ago, and the difference in results between members and non-members has been dramatic. "My staff didn’t feel like they had to 'sell' our services to the members – they were able to be more consultative and informational. Members trust us and are much more likely to agree to our recommendations."
Case acceptance may be a pain point, but practices that implement membership plans are finding more and more that the pain is decreasing...while case acceptance is increasing.