A new survey reveals that patients visiting the dentist on a ‘pay as you go ‘basis are twice a likely to delay or cancel a routine check up compared to those on a monthy pay plan .
The YouGov poll was commissioned by dental patient payment plan providers, Denplan.
These results, as well as feedback from Denplan’s 6,500 member dentists, show a significant change in the habits of ‘pay as you go’ patients across the country.
This could be due to a combination of factors including the recession, the rising cost of dentistry and a reduction of disposable income, but it poses a significant threat to dental practice income and possible future business plans – such as the introduction of new decontamination units.
August and September are historically the quieter months for dental practices, but a bigger drop in ‘pay as you go’ patients may not be evident until it’s time to review your accounts at the end of the year.
This may not be something dentists have been particularly worried about in the past, but with more time and money being taken up with increased regulations, such as HTM 01-05 and the CQC registration, a decrease in patients could put practices in a difficult situation over the coming year.
Roger Matthews, Denplan’s chief dental officer, says: ‘Here at Denplan we always strive to be at the forefront of industry knowledge and to pass that information onto you, the practice team. We all know there are big changes on the horizon for dentistry and this research shows that there are already signs of change from PFPI patients.
‘A total review of your practice during the holidays is a good idea to ensure the ongoing success of your practice and should include a review of all the support you are receiving from your providers and how this can benefit both you and your patients’
If patients’ financial circumstances change, 57% are more likely to continue paying into a dental payment plan that is nationally branded . These figures demonstrate an increasingly consumer driven society and that people trust and rely on a large brands, especially during more difficult economic times when.
Roger continues: ‘By aiming to move some of your patients onto a dental payment plan, you can not only be assured of a regular income, but by choosing a plan with a recognised brand name you can also take advantage of a host of other value-added services designed to help your practice thrive.’
 YouGov survey – 1,486 employees were questioned, March 2010. (The term ‘employees’ refers to individuals in full time employment)
2 TNS Omnibus survey – 1044 UK respondents, aged 16-64years were questioned, June 2010