Moving your membership plan provider is something practices can be keen to do, but often postpone as they think it will be too much hassle and worry about patients’ reaction to change. Yet, with the right provider to support them through the transition process and beyond, the move can be more straightforward than you think and reap many rewards such as improved training for the whole team, marketing support or more personal guidance from a rep.
Here, Practice Plan is sharing the different stories of three practice managers who switched plan providers to see how they did it and the impact it had on their practice and their patients…
Laura Brown, Practice Manager, Alington Dental
We had been with another provider but there was a real lack of stability after our support manager went on maternity leave, we were constantly being assigned new account managers and then meetings between us and them would be cancelled. It was just very frustrating, and then one day I went along with a friend to a practice manager’s Lunch meeting organised by Amy D’Arcy-Burt from Practice Plan. She didn’t give me the hard sell at all, in fact, afterwards it was me who phoned her to see if we could meet for a more in-depth chat.
After talking to Amy about all the extra practice management support that she could offer, and speaking to dentists who had experience of working with Practice Plan we decided to make the move. Of course, we had some reservations around how patients might react to the change, and our concern was that it would be a major headache to actually make the move and complete all the administrative duties involved.
“It was a seamless transition”
But it simply wasn’t, it was a seamless transition. We didn’t really need to get involved with the paperwork or the mailing of it to patients at all, which made it so easy for us and, more importantly, for patients as all they had to do was sign. We had very little push-back from patients and the majority of them had been moved over to the new plan within two months.
Since making the move two years ago, we still see Amy regularly and she is always at the end of the phone and, as a former practice manager herself, she is great at coming up with fresh ideas for the practice and how we can grow our membership and evolve the business. The connection we have with Amy, and the rest of the people at Practice Plan, is what we really enjoy about partnering with them. They are always looking out for our best interests and we know we can approach them about anything we need help with.
Kate Cummings, Practice Manager, Hanford Dental and Implant Centre
We purchased our current practice, with an existing list of private patients on plan, around six years ago and were shocked by the lack of support for members of the team that the incumbent plan provider offered. There was little to no support for anyone except the dentist. That is not the way we like to work, we want our entire team to be supported and valued, and so we decided to move to a new provider. Having worked with Practice Plan before, we knew that they could provide this level of support for the whole team that goes above and beyond plan administration.
As we had just taken over the practice and undergone some refurbishment, we didn’t want to introduce too much change to the patients too soon. To further minimise disruption to patients, alongside the bespoke plans created for our practice, we were able to offer like-for-like capitation plans as per the previous provider.
We had very few queries from patients. As long as they were able to continue coming to the practice and seeing our dentist, the vast majority were happy with what we were doing and almost everybody made the switch and didn’t see it as an inconvenience in the slightest. The whole process only took around four months.
We see our Regional Support Manager Josie Hutchings regularly, and also attend events organised by Practice Plan – most recently we have been to some that give us great practical tips that we can implement in practice, such as how to implement a hygiene plan, HR best practice in terms of recruiting staff and how to boost our income by 10%.
“With the daily management of running a practice, and all the regulation requirements we need to comply with, having that extra layer of support is really invaluable.”
The latter has really spurred us on to progress with a fresh, modern rebrand that Practice Plan’s in-house marketing and design team is supporting us on. With the daily management of running a practice, and all the regulation requirements we need to comply with, having that extra layer of support is really invaluable.
Lindsey Edwards, Practice Manager, The Priors Dental Practice
Just over a decade ago, we decided to move from a mixed NHS practice to a fully private practice. We had a ten-year vision in 2005 that by 2015 this would be a thriving referral practice and centre of excellence where people would know that the fee they were being charged represented great value, because they’d be coming somewhere that was state-of-the-art, with specialists offering an excellent level of care and treatment. We’re so delighted and proud to have achieved that.
Part of our journey involved creating our own brand and building patient loyalty to ourselves, as well as ensuring our patients were receiving value for money. We put a lot of forethought and planning into how we were going to achieve our vision, and felt that we couldn’t do that with our original provider.
We moved to Practice Plan as we were able to introduce practice-branded membership plans as well as take advantage of the additional business support services, such as marketing, in order to begin building our own brand and creating our own ‘look’, which was so important to us. We really wanted to create a strong identity that would help us stand out from the crowd and that patients could bond to.
Our patients were used to seeing the branding of our original plan provider and we were worried to some extent that it might lead patients to follow it and move to another practice. However, we also had a very strong belief in the service that we were offering and the consistency of our principal dentist’s abilities and reputation.
“we grew from a one-surgery to a four-surgery practice, our team has increased almost three-fold and we now have a full referral service.”
We began increasing our branding among our patients early on in the switch process and I think that was a strong motivator for them to sign up to the new plan. In that decade, we grew from a one-surgery to a four-surgery practice, our team has increased almost three-fold and we now have a full referral service.