Setting up Dental Membership Plans 101
Offering your customers an in-house dental care plan can help to retain existing patients and attract new clients – including your share of the million-plus individuals in the States not covered by dental insurance.
In-office dental membership plans also avoid the cost and hassle of dealing with insurance company middlemen.
Benefits of a dental membership plan for your patients include:
- Transparency – patients know exactly what dental care is covered and how much it will cost.
- Peace of mind – no worries about whether a dental insurance policy will include the treatment they may need.
The Dental Membership Plan Concept
An in-house dental membership plan allows patients to get more affordable dental care with a model similar to Amazon Prime or Costco. It gives patients discounted treatments, usually in return for a subscription for preventive care.
This annual payment – which may also be made in monthly installments – typically covers:
- Two check-ups and cleanings a year.
- A discount on other dental services.
- Further financial incentives if the patient renews subscription.
Because it’s not an insurance plan, no claims have to be filed and no payments made to insurance companies. This is a win-win situation – research suggests that dentists are typically under-reimbursed by insurers while patients overpay.
So, what’s the best way to go about setting up a dental membership plan.
Factors to Consider When Starting a Dental Membership Plan
The benefits of a dental membership plan far outweigh the challenges of getting it started, as long as you ensure certain measures critical for an optimal outcome. These include:
Keeping Your Dental Membership Program Simple
Not all dental membership plans succeed, mainly through complicating the process. Dental insurance is already generally difficult for dentists and patients, so your own, direct dental care plan needs to be simple. The best dental membership programs are easy to implement and simple to use.
Customizing Your In-Office Dental Care Plan
No two dental offices are the same. Aspects such as services, pricing, and patient demographics differ from practice to practice. Your dental membership plan needs to reflect the uniqueness of your practice while enabling adjustments as your business grows.
Payment management can become time-consuming for your dental business. Automating payments from the start of your dental membership plan will build a solid foundation to help you expand the program. Automatic and secure online payment processing of subscription fees significantly reduces staff workload.
Manual renewals divert your staff from taking care of patients. Ideally, you want to sell your dental membership plan once, with annual subscriptions renewing automatically. This is the best way to streamline the strategy. Your patients are likely used to auto renewal – a common feature of many online services.
Marketing Your Dental Membership Plan
Promoting your in-office dental care plan – both within the practice and externally – is essential. Market your membership program as a special offer to current clients and prospective patients, and make sure you:
- Get your whole team on board. It’s crucial that everyone understands the objectives of your dental membership plan and their role in implementing and supporting it.
- Maintain quality dental services. Continuing to provide an outstanding patient experience with your dental membership plan will keep members coming back, and they may refer their friends.
- Get good dental membership plan reviews. Encourage patients to post online reviews about your membership initiative. This will establish credibility and trust with potential new members.
Future of Dental Membership Plans
Outside dentistry, the effectiveness of subscription models like those run by Amazon show that similar strategies can boost client loyalty and provide recurring revenue for dentists.
Setting up and maintaining a strong dental membership plan can build a solid, ongoing stream of revenue and optimize value if you sell your practice.
Dental membership plans cut out insurance middlemen, and you can customize your plan to match your dental specialisms and promote it to match your patient demographic.
You’re also likely to get fewer cancellations – patients who’ve paid upfront for your services want to get their money’s worth. This allows you to take better care of your patients.
With multiple benefits for practices and patients alike, dental membership plans are likely to become increasingly prevalent.
As they do, many patients – especially those without dental insurance – may well begin to expect in-office dental care programs, and make them a top priority when choosing a dentist.
That’s why dental practices with an eye to the future are giving more serious consideration to setting up a dental membership plan to provide dental care benefits that are both dentist- and patient-friendly.
The American Dental Association (ADA) endorses in-house dental membership plans and offers support to dentists considering instigating a direct dental care strategy. If you have questions about and are wanting to start dental membership plans for your office call and schedule your consultation today.