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How do you integrate a dental membership plan? Carolyn Bronke Wind D.D.S., P.C. shares how she navigated the transition at her practice.
“[Patients are] excited that they get a discount plan, and it feels like they finally have an insurance plan. We’ve also noticed an increase in acceptance of treatment.” - Carolyn Bronke Wind D.D.S., P.C.
If you’ve been considering, put also putting off, a decision to add a membership plan option to your practice because of the associated challenges of implementation and maintenance, consider the path employed by an Illinois practice. Case acceptance is up, cash flow is consistent, and added work has been minimal.
The benefits of dental membership plans have been written about before. They include increasing uninsured patient treatment acceptance, and therefore revenue; attracting new uninsured patients; and the potential to significantly increase the value of your dental practice.
But if you’re starting from square one, how do you integrate such a plan into your practice to ensure you maximize those benefits?
The La Grange, Illinois-based practice of Carolyn Bronke Wind D.D.S., P.C., recently addressed that question. Having considered adding a membership plan for several years, the logistics seemed overwhelming. Administratively, it was not going to work.
“But we did want to have something for our patients who have no insurance,” Jill Rizner, office manager for Dr. Wind, explains. “We also wanted to make it easier for patients to be compliant. Money is a big issue, and a lot of them were not going forward with a treatment plan that was recommended because of the cost.”
The decision was made to work with Kleer to add a dental membership plan. Having a partner to help guide staff through the set up and implementation made all the difference.
Rizner explains that the dental staff reviewed the practice’s fee schedule to determine what discounted fees they wanted to offer patients, but Kleer helped with much of the related legwork.
“They created our portal, and gave us a link to put on our website with all the information about the membership plan,” Rizner says. “They also provided all the marketing materials and training.”
Workflow changes were minimal.
“We added a few extra codes to our practice management system to flag who was a dental membership patient, and accounting-wise, it was just a couple of small steps to flag those accounts,” Rizner says. “Using an outside company eliminated the extra work.”
To alert current and prospective patients about the new membership plan, a link was added to the practice’s website providing all related information. In addition, if new patients who do not have insurance phone the office, they’re directed to the website for plan details.
But Rizner says the bulk of the success the plan has experienced has come from simply presenting the new option to patients during office visits.
“Our hygienists are kind of on the front line of presenting it to some of our patients,” she explains. “And we at the front desk also present it. It’s really about the verbiage used when we present it to them. But the marketing materials that Kleer provided us with are excellent.”
Must be, because Rizner estimates that approximately 80 percent of the patients who have enrolled did so on the spot.
The membership plan has been available to patients for about four months, and Rizner says patient response has been positive.
“They’re excited that they get a discount plan, and it feels like they finally have an insurance plan,” she says. “We’ve also noticed an increase in acceptance of treatment.”
Patients have the option of paying for the plan monthly, or with one annual payment. Most, Rizner says, are doing so monthly. It’s a personal preference. But either way, it adds a regular cash flow to the practice.
“We’re definitely seeing a consistent cash flow,” says Rizner, but there’s another benefit. “I think that patients, knowing that they are paying for this plan, it’s keeping them compliant. They’re going to return for their regular follow-up visits.”
Rizner says that based on experience, working with an outside company to implement and manage a dental membership plan, rather than having staff take it on themselves, makes sense. The transition, she adds, was virtually non-existent. In this case, Kleer took the practice’s fee schedule and handled virtually all the marketing.
Still have doubts?
“Look at what your fee schedules are with your contracted insurance companies, and what your fee schedule would be for an in-house membership plan,” Rizner suggests. “There’s no doubt that an in-house plan is the way to go.”