To grow the number of patients on your dental payment plan, you need a structured approach.
Once the plan has been in place for a while and an embedded part of your practice, it can be easy to lose focus on it. Because it’s familiar to you, you can fall into a trap of thinking that it’s also familiar to patients.
You might have posters up in the waiting room and leaflets on the reception desk or as part of your welcome pack. This is great, however, it’s not enough. It can be easy for patients not to notice these things, so you need to make sure you’re having conversations, ideally face-to-face, about it as well.
Creating a step-by-step plan can make sure it stays at the forefront of your team’s mind and build awareness with all your patients.
It’s worthwhile mapping out how you’ll discuss the topic of your plan with patients. To do that, you need to think about who will say what and when:
- Who should bring up the plan? It could be your receptionist, the dentists or a treatment coordinator if you have one. It could be a combination of several people at different stages, depending on the circumstances.
- What is each member of the team going to say? How will they introduce the idea of the plan and the benefits?
- When will they say it? Plan at what point in the patient journey it is appropriate for which person to say what.
The above will more than likely differ depending on whether you are dealing with an existing or new patient. So, you will need to create specific journeys for both.
The best way forward here is to introduce the idea of your plan as early on as possible.
When a new patient calls in or visits the practice, it’s worthwhile explaining that you run a patient membership plan, and the reason why, i.e. the preventive message/health benefits to a patient. You also need to provide a very brief description of what this means, i.e. that monthly payments cover the cost of x check-ups and/or hygiene visits together with the Worldwide Dental Emergency Assistance Scheme and discount on treatments.
This can then be followed up by the dentist or whoever their appointment is with.
They can let the patient know how that appointment would be covered by their monthly payments going forward, and depending on what future treatment is needed, recommend which plan might work best for them (if you run different levels), and how else they could benefit from discounts on particular services, etc.
When practices focus on growing the numbers on their plan, they naturally lean towards new patients, however, patients who are on your list, but not on your plan are just as important.
Often, it’s easy to assume that, because they already attend your practice, that they know about your plan and have decided not to join, or, they said no once.
However, their circumstances might have changed since then, or maybe, if they haven’t been told about the plan in conversation and haven’t read a leaflet that may have been handed over – especially if it was part of a welcome pack with lots of other literature – they simply don’t know.
In this instance, it might be appropriate for the clinician or member of the team who has the best relationship with the patient, to bring it up.
There is no need for a ‘hard sell’ here. It can be as simple as saying something along the lines of, ‘I noticed you’re not a member of our membership plan. I just wanted to let you know that if you were, this appointment would have been covered as part of a monthly fee of XX. Would you like me to tell you a little bit more about it?’.
Benefits of structure
Applying a structure, enables everyone in the team to understand their role and what is expected of them when it comes to growing your plan.
This will help it to remain a key focus for everyone. In turn, this can increase your regular, guaranteed income and ensure patients are aware of what is available to them in terms of making treatment more affordable and improving their oral health.
Fliss McCalmont has been a Regional Support Manager at Practice Plan, the UK’s leading provider of practice-branded patient membership plans, for 18 years and before that was a Practice Manager for 10 years.
Our team of experienced professionals has supported over 1,500 dental practices to transform the profitability of their business through the combination of a well-populated plan and personalised support including marketing, business advice, events and training. If you’re looking for more from your provider, call 01691 684165 or visit change.practiceplan.co.uk