Louise Beddow gives the inside scoop on the difference finding the right plan provider can make.
What do you think are the main benefits of a dental plan?
Louise: Well what we do know is that a dental plan encourages patients to attend more regularly, which helps the dentists to focus on preventive care, which in turn, results in happy, healthier patients that remain loyal to their dental practice.
Plan patients are great advocates; they’re walking, talking referrers! What’s more and of great importance to any small business, is that a plan aids cash flow, since the principal knows how much income the business will receive each month. What is it they say? ‘Most businesses that fail, do so not because they have a lack of work, but because they have a lack of cash flow.’ A plan smooths the peaks and troughs.
Why might a practice look for an alternative plan provider?
Louise: There are many factors. As the dental world evolves and practices are more aware and capable of driving their own branding, social media initiatives and promotions, many look for a ‘white label’ plan provider. This offers much greater freedom for practices to promote their own dental plan rather than someone else’s brand. Cost often enters the equation; however, it is rarely cost alone that is the driving factor. Sometimes practice owners just need someone to look at their business with a fresh pair of eyes, someone who can approach things a little differently.
How can switching plan providers offer a cost-effective solution for a practice?
Louise: I can only really comment on what we do at DPAS. We offer a standard administration rate and by structuring our pricing this way, we can ensure practices can benefit from their administration rates per patient per month, reducing with every patient sign up. One of the big pluses at DPAS is that to ensure minimal disruption for the patient and practice team, we clone existing plans whether full care capitation or a more maintenance essential style plan, so in essence offer a like-for-like switch.
How can you help to steer dental teams – who may well fear change – through the process of switching to a new plan provider?
Louise: The root of this is really in the level of support and training we provide. The key is to give each practice time to become comfortable with the impending change, and to give everyone the opportunity to talk to me, either in a group environment or on a one-to-one basis, allowing any concerns to be addressed. It’s important that everyone can continue with their day-to-day roles during a switch.
Can you tell us about a recent switch you have overseen?
Louise: I recently completed a switch of 1,800 patients from a competitor plan provider. The practice wanted greater control of their fees and were looking for a way to reduce costs and pass savings on to patients. As part of the process, I completed two training sessions, which was a great reminder as to why dental plans are so important to the practice and the patient. The dentist was also proactive in talking to the patients in advance of the switch, explaining why he was making the change and the message was reiterated at reception.
The mailing explaining the switch was sent to the patients when one of the dentists was on holiday, easing pressure on the front desk, as only one surgery was running. By the end of week three, we were over halfway in terms of acceptance forms returned. The practice currently has a 95% conversion rate and is enjoying a saving of over £1,200 a month.
If you could offer one piece of advice to a practice unhappy with the status quo of their provider, what would it be?
Louise: Shop around. Talk to other dental practices and ask about their plan provider. Talk to your accountant or other trusted business partners, and get a feel for alternatives in the marketplace. Pick up the phone and have that initial chat. We are here to help.
DPAS is a specialist provider of dental plans for your practice and patients, offering everything the team needs to implement and promote plans effectively. For further information, visit www.dpas.co.uk, email [email protected] or call 01747 870910.