Julian English quizzed Simplyhealth Professionals managing director, Caroline Coleman, about the new direction for the plan provider formerly known as Denplan.
Julian English: A month in, how do you feel Denplan’s change to Simplyhealth Professionals has been received by the profession?
Caroline Coleman: Overall, we are pleased with how our rebrand has been received by dental practices. We are in constant communication with our practices to ensure that they fully understand the brand changes and to reassure them that we are still the same team that they are used to dealing with, and that we are offering the same Denplan products for their patients.
Obviously with such a long-standing association to the apple and one which people were attached to, there was always going to be a reaction, but we are making sure that we are doing everything we can to reassure our members that we are still the same people our members are used to dealing with. The apple was just a logo – our teams that serve our dentists and their practice teams and their patients are the brand.
Our dentists understand that our new organisational name is Simplyhealth Professionals, and we have been working closely with them to explain that the Denplan name is not disappearing, as it will continue to be used on all of our Denplan payment plans. We have had positive feedback from practices that the new brand design is contemporary and reflects the image of a modern healthcare focused organisation.
We will continue to build on our experience and support for developing new financially based products, which comes from our depth of knowledge in understanding industry trends and emerging opportunities. We do understand that change can sometimes be just as unsettling as it is exciting, so we will continue to work with our dentists so that we all have a great future together as Simplyhealth Professionals.
Julian: …and with patients?
Caroline: At this point, we have taken the decision to communicate our brand change to our member dentists because primarily our relationship is with them. Patients should not notice any change as we are still providing all of our Denplan payment products under the Denplan name – the only difference is that we have united under the Simplyhealth brand as Simplyhealth Professionals.
The people, products and services all remain the same. The relationship with the patient is through our member dentists who will still be talking to their patients about our Denplan products.
Julian: Simplyhealth offers the Simply Dental Plan. How does this differ to Denplan Care?
Caroline: The two plans are completely different and unrelated. Denplan Care is provided by Simplyhealth Professionals and is our most comprehensive payment plan, which is only available to patients from their dentist. It is a really easy way for patients to spread the cost of their routine treatment into affordable monthly payments, reducing the chance of receiving unexpected dental bills. This plan covers regular check-ups and hygiene visits with a patient’s dental team, as well as any restorative treatment they may need. As with all our plans, Denplan Care also includes worldwide dental injury and dental emergency.
The Simplyhealth Dental Plan is a dental insurance product, which is designed to help patients manage the cost of routine appointments as well as covering them for the unexpected.
Julian: What’s the next step for the integration of Denplan and Simplyhealth Professionals?
Caroline: Following the acquisition of Denplan by Simplyhealth in 2011, we have been working collaboratively together. However, we are now working under one brand and our dental business is going to market as Simplyhealth Professionals. This has positioned us in the marketplace so that we can reach our goal of being a principle provider of everyday health services and products. Although we have rebranded as Simplyhealth Professionals, our Denplan products have remained the same.
If we have opportunities for new products in the future that we at Simplyhealth Professionals feel would be an advantage for our dentists, staff or patients, then we will – as we have always done – engage with our clients and explore the opportunities.
We are always mindful that the patients we serve belong to the dentists so ultimately, it is up to our member dentists to decide if they believe a product is a good idea for their patients.
Julian: Denplan also offers pet health plans. What proportion of the business is vet policies compared to dental policies?
Caroline: Although the vet market is the fastest growing portfolio in the business, the dental market is still by far the biggest area of the business, as we have had a 25-year head start. The dentist and vet businesses are run by separate teams and focus on their individual industry, but share best practice.
Sandy Brown is director of dentists and has been with the company for 25 years this year. Sandy started at Denplan in 1992 as the Denplan consultant for Scotland, Northern Ireland and the North of England. Sandy’s current role as director of dentists means that he and his teams have only one focus – everything they do is for their dentists, practice teams and patients.
Chantelle Brandwood took over as director of vets on 1 April. Chantelle has worked within the veterinary industry for 10 years and within Simplyhealth Professionals for the past two and half years. Chantelle has demonstrated a real passion and drive for the business, the veterinary market, her teams and adapting well to change. Chantelle is focused on growing the vets business while working collaboratively across the organisation.
Julian: What are your plans for the brand in the next 12 months?
Caroline: We will continue to raise the profile of the new brand, Simplyhealth Professionals, and will work alongside our members to make the transition to the new brand as easy as possible for them. We have always said that this is a transitional period throughout 2017.
We will continue to provide all of our Denplan products to our members from our Simplyhealth Professionals team of consultants and in-house business support from our office in Winchester.
We will launch new products quicker to market to help our professionals keep ahead of the game and keep their patients in the best health possible to support our goal of prevention and awareness. We will have the opportunity to invest in new services that will benefit practices and their patients, and continue to focus on our existing support services including CPD, regulation, client forums, conferences and practice training.
We are investing in key sponsorships to create greater brand awareness, such as our sponsorship of The Simplyhealth Great Run Series in 2017 and our investment in Teeth Team, which will enable the charity to continue its work to improve the oral health of children in socially deprived communities and roll out its programme to an additional 50 schools in 2017.
We will have a new stand and brand presence at the key industry conferences throughout 2017, for example at The Dentistry Show, British Dental Association Annual Conference, and BDIA Dental Showcase. Furthermore, we are developing our digital resources to support practice communication.
For more information on Simplyhealth Professionals visit www.denplan.co.uk.