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(Sponsored) Learn how to leverage your practice's membership plan to stay ahead of the competition.
Dormant patients. Declining revenue. Lagging production. These challenges are ones that every dental practice faces. How do you retain patients and keep them from going elsewhere? How do you build patient loyalty and increase treatment acceptance? How can you best support your fee-for-service patients and drive results?
One approach is to implement a membership plan. Membership plans can expand patients' faith in a practice, make treatment affordable and accessible, and increase patient retention—all of which benefit your bottom line. These results are compounding and make your practice stand out, giving you a competitive edge.
But how exactly does it work, and what gives you the advantage?
Build Loyalty That Lasts
According to Dave Monahan, CEO and founder of Kleer, a subscription-based dental membership platform, fee-for-service patients visit the dentist 50% less when compared to insured or membership-plan patients.
Once a patient is enrolled in a membership plan, there is a behavioral change that occurs. By removing obstacles to access care and alleviating the fear of cost, patient satisfaction increases, and patient loyalty is created. Access to necessary dental care, without all the stress, increases patient confidence in the oral health decisions they make for themselves and their families.
"For the fee-for-service patients, membership plans get them to engage more deeply with the practice. Many fee-for-service patients feel like they're on the outside looking in. So by offering a membership plan, what you're saying is, 'We value our fee-for-service patients and provide a way for you to get the care you need.'"
According to Kleer's platform data, once enrolled in a membership plan, patients visit 2 to 3 times more often. Plus, most treatment is diagnosed in the hygiene chair. As patients visit more often and maintain routine visits, the rate of treatment acceptance doubles.
"Treatment acceptance increases 2 to 3 times more because patients are coming in, they're seeing what they need, and then they accept the treatment during their hygiene visit," Monahan says.
Membership plans are also a great way to reach out to dormant patients who haven't been to the practice for 18 months or more. Membership plans help to convert a dormant patient into a compliant one, which means less time spent chasing down new patients and more time focusing on the ones already in your database.
"On average, a practice has about 3000 dormant patients," Monahan says. "So practices can reach out to those dormant patients with a membership plan and get them to return to their practice and commit to care."
A membership plan provides an incentive that brings fee-for-service patients closer to your practice, solidifies their commitment to care and your practice.
Mitigate Patient Attrition
Auto-renewals solidify patient loyalty and make renewing a plan simple.
"The ROI [return on investment] on auto-renewals makes up for fees associated with membership plans," Monahan says. "Having something as simple as auto-renewal versus somebody in the practice trying to call a patient and get them to renew makes a big difference. I don't know any businesses that do subscriptions manually because it's not practical. Dental subscriptions can renew the same way with a membership platform."
Regardless of industry, once someone is on a subscription plan with auto-renewal, research says they're likely to continue. According to Truebill, subscription services for platforms like Audible, Amazon Kindle, and Time have retention rates ranging from 82% to 85% yearly.1 For Kleer, the annual membership renewal rate is 75%.
"Wherever there is recurring need, people want a subscription model," Monahan says. "Dentistry aligns perfectly with a subscription model because you have a recurring need for dental care, since you know you need to get into the dentist every six months."
These benefits flow directly to the practice. Monahan says research has shown that when someone commits to a subscription model in any industry, they purchase twice as much.
"We're seeing this same thing in dental as in other industries," Monahan says. "When a patient commits to the membership, they're doubling the amount they purchase from the dentist."
Differentiate Your Practice
Strengthening the value of your patients, especially fee-for-service patients, is critical to a practice's success, but attracting new patients—and subsequently retaining them—in a saturated dental market wastes a lot of a practice's time and money.
"Practices spend a lot of money bringing new patients into their practice," Monahan says. "On average, practices spend $100 per patient to get them into the practice for their first visit. The issue is that only about 40% of those new patients ever come back to the practice."
Many practices write off these marketing losses as the cost of doing business, but it doesn't need to be that way. Membership plans can help retain these first-time patients and keep them returning for more.
"When a patient is offered a membership plan, and they accept it, the reappointment rate goes from 40% to 100%," Monahan says. "It keeps them coming back to the practice, and it increases the amount of care they accept."
Marketing these membership plans is easy when targeting both existing and first-time patients.
"Patients feel sort of exposed when they enter the dental practice, especially when they don't have any coverage," Monahan says. "If you train your team to talk about these membership plans and explain them to patients, the plans will market themselves because it reduces that layer of anxiety for the patient."
Monahan recommends ensuring that your team understands the plans and how to discuss them to encourage patient sign-ups.
"When patients understand that this is an offering, you differentiate yourself from other practices, and you show your commitment to your fee-for-service patients," Monahan says. "Make sure you're presenting this clearly to new patients on your website, social media, or direct mail. However you're marketing it, make sure anybody from a new patient perspective understands that you value them and are offering ways for them to access care."
It's no secret that collaborating with insurance companies or tracking payments can be tedious and time-consuming. Membership platforms deposit patient dues directly into the practice's bank account. The increase in innovation also means new features and automations to make your life easier.
Kleer will soon launch practice management system [PMS] integration so that payments post directly to practice management systems.
"The benefit is that no one in the practice needs to manage that or do it manually," Monahan says. "Practices will be able to pull up patient information and autofill the membership information when patients sign up. There will be automated marketing to patients to promote the plans. That integration will open all kinds of opportunities, automating the majority of steps to get better results for the practice."
Waiting 30, 60, or 90 days for reimbursements or manually documenting payments is a thing of the past. Simplifying collections with a membership platform empowers practices to focus on what they do best—treating patients.
Kleer combines an advanced, cloud-based platform with dedicated and personalized support to ensure your practice has everything you need to easily and quickly design, implement, and professionally manage a successful membership plan. Kleer has implemented membership plans for 7,000+ dentists, including over 300 groups and DSOs. Learn more about improving patient access to care and building a better, more profitable practice by visiting kleer.com.
1. Roach S. The most popular — and most canceled — subscriptions will surprise you. Protocol. April 29, 2022. Accessed August 10, 2022. https://www.protocol.com/best-worst-weirdest-subscriptions