More often than not, practices offer a membership plan to their patients, although some tend to struggle with communicating the benefits in order to increase patient numbers.
Below are four tips for dealing with membership plans and patient uptake.
1. Staff training
Membership plans are the best way to package preventive care as they encourage regular attendance and greater engagement. The first step to increasing the number of your plan patients is to make sure that your team is fully on board. All staff should be comfortable with the plans you offer and how they work so that they are confident in talking about the benefits, as you never know who a patient may approach.
2. Patient journey
The next step is to map out the process as a team. This will be unique to your practice, but a common process is that the dentist or hygienist outlines the main benefits of the plan to the patient and recommends the right plan for them. If the patient would like more information or wants to join a plan, this is then communicated to the receptionist or treatment coordinator, who finishes the process. This is a key part of the process; all too often, the patient expresses an interest whilst in the surgery but this is not communicated to the front desk, and so the opportunity is lost. Have a system in place, whether this is sending a pop-up message or having the nurse speak to the receptionist as they bring the patient back to the desk.
3. Promote the benefits of membership
Getting the balance right between promoting plan membership and doing the hard sell is something that people can find tricky. Here are four simple ways to get the message across without feeling like you are being too pushy.
- Firstly, have a poster detailing the benefits of membership on display in the waiting room
- Secondly, have more detailed leaflets on display for patients who would like more information
- Thirdly, and most importantly, talk to your patients about the plan. When a patient comes to the front desk to pay for their examination, most receptionists would feel comfortable saying: ‘That will be £X today Mrs Jones. But did you realise you would not have had to pay if you had been a member of our plan?’ This is a good way of starting a conversation
- Finally, when a patient needs treatment, give them the pay-as-you-go price and the member’s price, and explain how they can receive the discount.
4. Make patients feel it is the right choice
Your membership plan needs to be part of the practice’s overall philosophy, making patients feel that it is the natural choice to consider. By becoming a member, patients are buying into your practice, so work towards developing a friendly and helpful culture. Don’t simply tag membership on to the end of a conversation, make patients feel important because you are providing a product that’s right for them.
Practice Plan is a provider of practice-branded patient membership plans in the UK. It has helped hundreds of dentists switch provider or convert from the NHS to become more successful and sustainable practices. If you’d like to know more about how Practice Plan could help you make a greater success of your practice, visit www.practiceplan.co.uk or call 01691 684120.