Tech to Grow and Manage Your Multi-Location Membership Plan

(Sponsored) Understanding the types of technology and services that can help growing dental practice groups continue to thrive.

A typical practice population generally consists of patients with varying coverage types: preferred provider organizations (PPOs), health maintenance organizations (HMOs), dental discount plans, and those who pay cash. Typically, patients with insurance are more likely to return regularly for care, whereas cash-paying patients may be less consistent. This demographic—patients who pay cash—is often overlooked and relegated to languishing in a practice's dormant patient list, producing little to no revenue.

"If I'm a cash patient who doesn't have coverage, more often than not, I'm not coming into the office for regular hygiene," says Dan Crawford, enterprise sales manager at Kleer. Kleer's powerful cloud-based platform lets dentists offer their own customizable dental membership plans directly to their patients. "I'm much less likely to accept treatment because of that financial barrier, and if I do accept treatment, I probably won't return until I have a dental emergency. And all of this stems from not having coverage."

This is where membership plans fill the void. Membership plans allow patients to subscribe to a practice for their preventative care. A significant benefit of these plans is that it increases access to care for fee-for-service patients who typically avoid the dentist due to the fear of high out-of-pocket dental expenses.

"We tend to see patients that join the membership plan behave similarly to patients covered by insurance: They're visiting more, much more loyal, and they're accepting 2 to 3 times more treatment," Crawford says. "Giving patients access to the care they need becomes an enormous asset for your business because suddenly that patient's generating production similar to that of an insured patient."

Membership plans also help practices reduce dependency on insurance, putting the practice firmly in charge of their revenue. "The age-old problem with groups and practices is that they have no control over insurance reimbursements," says Crawford. "Reimbursement rates have continued to drop. And now these offices need to work more and see more patients to be profitable given how these insurance plans are structured." That's how a membership plan can help. By having a consistent stream of recurring revenue, you're no longer beholden to the whims of insurance companies.

Built for Scale and Security

Many practices and groups try to implement membership plans on their own. However, because this is new and unexplored territory for many, once they gain members and momentum, the payment and reporting aspects become more complex, leaving greater room for error and adding more work to an already busy team.

"There are practices using Excel spreadsheets, which becomes a big problem when you start to add 20, 30, 50 patients," says Dave Monahan, CEO and founder of Kleer. "Who's paying what? Have they made their payment? You don't have any way of managing renewals. You have no way of managing what benefits somebody has used or not used. We tell practices that platforms may have fees associated with using them, but we will more than make that up and produce ROI [return on investment] by having something as simple as auto-renewal."

In addition, "Multi-location practices are much more complex operations than, say, a single office, so your platform has to be reliable," Crawford says. "It has to be fast, and it has to be compliant in terms of things like HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act], fee-splitting laws, etc. But it's really going to be critical to partner with someone with an infrastructure to handle these complexities."

Many underestimate the simplicity and security a platform can provide for the patient and your front office team. It's an asset to be able to leverage a platform that will take on these responsibilities for you.

Enterprise Essentials

Suppose a practice has offices in 10 different states, and each location has different fees and demographics. In that case, the practice needs a platform to handle that kind of data to deliver value at scale.

"If you have multiple offices in multiple states, it's essentially several entirely different operations because South Carolina is not New Jersey and is not New York," Crawford says. "They're very different places. So the pricing of a plan will be important, but the other challenge is ensuring uniformity. Do you have a system to provide synergy between these very different markets under the same umbrella as your group or DSO? You need a reliable system to keep this dynamic group space on the straight and narrow."

Monahan agrees. "Customization of the plan is huge," he says. "These plans need to be thought through. What do your patient demographics look like? How many care plans do we need to offer, and what treatment options should they entail? Practices need to make sure that they customize their membership plan based on a patient's demographics—and they also need to price them properly."

It would be impractical to log in to 10 different dashboards to try consolidating the data to determine if a membership plan is getting results. Single-enterprise platforms allow everyone from the accounting team and the chief financial officer to the office and regional leads to log in to one place and see the data and performance metrics at varying levels in real-time.

Automations to Make Your Lives Easier and Your Patient's Lives Better

When establishing processes that work, it's essential to have the appropriate support in your corner. "When [you're thinking] about implementing a membership plan or perhaps elevating a current membership plan, you need to think about, What is the time commitment going to be for my team, and what costs are associated with that?" says Crawford.

Much of this depends on partnering with a platform that can help automate membership management. Front offices no longer have to track down payments, and patients have the peace of mind that their coverage is up to date.

"Subscription models streamline payments and save time," says Monahan. "When we get payments, we deposit them directly to the practice's bank account. There's nothing the practice needs to do. It's all done in the background. It's really, really simple."

But perhaps the most essential feature is auto-renewal. "That renewal at the end of the year is critical so that the patient can continue to be a part of the practice," Crawford says. "More often than not, the patients appreciate that automated renewal because when they sign up for the plans, they want the security of having coverage and staying with the practice. But a year is a long time, and sometimes these patients slip through the cracks and forget to renew, so having a platform that can take care of that for you is going to be important."

Automation features, in addition to patient self-service tools, are a great asset to the administrative team by allowing patients to manage their accounts. Many times, patients will have questions or need to update their payment method, and they should be able to log into a portal and get the answers they need without assistance.

As the market reflects, "Practices are having trouble hiring people right now, and team members are busy," Monahan says. Therefore, implementing efficiencies via software and automation is more important than ever.

Ambitious Plans Ahead

"Your practice management software [PMS] is kind of the mother ship for the practice; that's where everything lives," Crawford says. "So now many dental membership companies are looking to integrate into practice management software. But it has to be executed successfully."

When shopping for platforms, practices should look for ones that showcase innovation and are transparent about their product roadmap. A platform with Integration capabilities will enable practices to harness the data between their membership platform and practice management software [PMS] to help make more informed business decisions and save their team valuable time. These integrations are critical in providing additional value to your business, from auto-filling forms to PMS payment posting to benchmarking coverage performance.

Kleer is one company making waves in this space. The platform offers an end-to-end solution quickly becoming the industry standard for dental membership plans. Their ability to innovate and integrate has allowed them to become one of the industry's most trusted, most powerful membership platforms.

About Kleer

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