Membership plans keep patients committed to your practice

It’s a big claim, but it’s true: Membership plan patients are loyal to your practice and will become your best patients.

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Have you asked yourself recently, “Am I doing all I can to increase loyalty among my patients?” A world of endless choices has created a new level of fickleness among consumers. Loyalty to one brand or one entity is becoming rare. It’s no different with your patients. According to a McKenzie Management survey, for every 10 new patients who come into your practice, seven will never come back.1 This should be a wakeup call to dental practices. If you aren’t doing it already, now is the time to implement a patient loyalty and retention program.

So, where should you start? The most vulnerable patients in a practice are those who are uninsured and pay out of pocket. They truly have endless choices and often shop around for oral care. They are also typically the most profitable patients for a practice and the patients a practice can least afford to lose.

The good news is that this group places a high value on oral care. According to research by Finch Brands, 84% believe their overall health is dependent on their oral health, 75% believe that good oral health improves their quality of life, and 60% believe good oral health will increase their life span.2

Furthermore, the Finch Brand research shows that uninsured patients are uncomfortable not having dental coverage. They feel stressed and exposed when they are in the dentist’s office because they have no one looking after them and have no way of determining what they should pay. As a result, they avoid hygiene visits and are skeptical about accepting additional treatment recommended by the dentist.

The great news is that 89% of uninsured patients are interested in purchasing a dental care plan if it’s simple, transparent, and affordable.3 They have looked at dental insurance, but they do not buy it because of the long, complicated agreements that include limitations, exclusions, annual maximums, and other terms that make it difficult to understand. Based on my discussions with these patients, they feel like the insurer is “going to get me.” That’s where a membership plan comes in.

So, what is a membership plan? Membership plans are dental care plans that you offer directly to your patients. Patients pay a subscription directly to your practice for preventive care and discounts off other treatment. Membership plans eliminate the cost and hassle of an insurance middleman, enabling patients to get the oral care they need at an affordable price while enabling dentists to run a successful, profitable practice.

When uninsured patients get access to the oral care they need at an affordable price they want, they feel a sense of relief and appreciation. They visit more often, become more committed to their hygiene visits, and accept more restorative treatment. As a result, membership plan patients are loyal to your practice and will become your best patients.

I know that’s a big claim, so I want to share why membership plans increase patient loyalty and case acceptance based on our work with thousands of dental practices.

Cost transparency builds patient trust

In our research, we’ve found that cost or fear of cost is the number one reason uninsured patients avoid the dentist. Most have no idea how much dental care costs and as a result they often avoid visits and treatment. Patients want to understand the costs up front and don’t want to be surprised by bills during or after their appointments. Because membership plans are 100% transparent, patients have a new level of pricing certainty they never had before. This transparency builds trust because they know that you are not hiding anything. As a result, patients feel in control and financially savvy, and they are much more willing to visit and accept treatment.

Simplicity builds patient trust

In a world with Netflix, Spotify, Amazon Prime, and Uber, consumers expect simple terms that make it easy to use the services they purchase and without hassles. They carry this expectation into your office and any time they look at purchasing products or services. Membership plans meet this expectation because they are very simple to understand and use. There are no long agreements, annual maximums, waiting periods, denials of claims, alternate benefits, or exclusions for pre-existing conditions. Membership plans have few terms, and all terms are easy to understand and are presented to the patient up front. Patients appreciate this level of simplicity and transparency, and will trust you for providing it.

Membership plan members commit to their oral health

Most practices believe their uninsured patients are coming in regularly, but based on my analysis of practice data, it’s only once every two years on average. Uninsured patients avoid visits and treatment because, as I mentioned above, they feel exposed without coverage. They don’t know what they are getting into, and they have no way of evaluating the cost. In contrast, membership plan patients commit to hygiene visits and accept more treatment because they have access to affordable and comprehensive coverage. In fact, we’ve found that membership plan patients visit two to three times more and accept 50% to 75% more treatment than uninsured patients.i Think about the business impact this will have on your practice.

A membership plan will build patient loyalty and improve practice performance

Increase patient visits, boost patient loyalty, and improve treatment acceptance by offering uninsured patients access to simple, comprehensive, and affordable dental care coverage they understand. It’s a win-win!

References

1. McKenzie S. Top Reasons Your Practice Keeps Losing Patients. McKenzie Management website. http://www.mckenziemgmt.com/managementtips/print/sally/PrintSallyArticle751.html.

2. Finch Brands. Dental Market Insights Report, October 2018.

3. Finch Brands. Consumer Research Report, November 2016.

NOTE

i. One-dentist practice in US northeast metro. Based on actual 2016 practice data. Data excludes dormant patients.

DAVE MONAHAN is CEO of Kleer, an advanced, cloud-based platform that enables a dental practice to easily design and manage its own membership plan and offer it directly to patients. Monahan’s advocation for subscription-based dental care led to the founding of Kleer in 2016 and the growth of Kleer dental practices and membership since its pilot launch in September 2017. For further questions about patient loyalty and membership plans powered by the Kleer platform, reach out to Monahan at dave@kleer.com.

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