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Dental Membership Plans: New opportunity for dental practice efficiency and, ultimately, better patient care.

Oh, the life of an office manager: Chaotic and time crunched with much to do and so much to worry about. There's paperwork, staff scheduling, and patient follow-up. And then there's back and forth with insurance companies--the claims, the denials, and disappointing reimbursement rates--all of which takes away from the primary objective of delivering quality patient care.

A new tool is changing the equation in dental practice management, opening up new opportunities to automate and streamline administration while providing more time for patient interaction. Cloud-based dental membership plans are being adopted and deployed throughout the industry. Membership plans can provide a powerful platform for practices to directly interface with patients, building patient loyalty while motivating them to return regularly to your practice. The best of these plans are easy to deploy and simple to administer, often replacing tedious, spreadsheet-driven homemade plans with customizable digital solutions that make it easy for patients to stay connected with the practice.

Here is everything you need to know about dental membership plans:

* Joining the subscription economy. The subscription-based economy, which offers convenience and transparency, is now many customers' preferred way to pay for goods and services in this country. It's easier to budget and less worrisome when consumers know how much they will have to pay this month to watch movies, workout, or get their dinners delivered to their doors. The best dental membership plans enable patients to easily join and pay a monthly fee for preventative care with no hidden costs. Monthly subscriptions are easy on family budgets and totally transparent. Patients know in advance how much they have to pay.

For practices, "subscription dentistry" creates organic loyalty without third-party interference from insurance companies or even the need to file or argue claims. Dental membership plan patients want to get the most out of their monthly payment, so they take advantage by booking and keeping appointments. Once in the chair, they are much more likely to accept additional recommended treatments. In fact, dental membership plan patients generate 50 to 75 percent more revenue than uninsured patients and 30 to 50 percent more net revenue than the insured. For administrative staff, managing subscription patients is easy and effective. You can focus on quality care instead of paperwork and chasing new patients.

* Leveraging cloud computing. The best dental membership plans make full use of cloud computing. That means the software can be accessed and updated by you--and your patients--from anywhere. There's no need to download and maintain it on local computers. It's as easy to use as Facebook or Twitter. Log on and start working. Update information on the fly, make changes at will, and access from home or office on your desktop computer or smartphone. Cloud computing eliminates hassles and headaches and gives you more time to engage directly with patients instead of staring at computer screens.

* Automating and equalizing. In dentistry, it's people before process. Most dental professionals get into the business because they value patient interaction and want to help others improve their overall health. Automation is the great equalizer that allows busy dental practices to spend more time with patients and less on paperwork. A great dental membership plan automates even the most fundamental tasks-things that drain administrative resources and take you away from your patients. Great dental membership plans have thought of everything. Integrated payment processing means you will never have to chase credit card numbers or late payments. Patients enter their own data and it's all taken care of for you. Automatic renewals ensure that your patients stay committed year after year. You never have to call to re-sell the service once membership expires. That's the power of automation and the impact of a well-conceived dental membership plan.

* Customizing to meet your practice's needs. No two practices are the same. Different patients, demographics and experiences, different services offered, and procedure prices are just a few factors that make each practice unique. Your dental membership plan needs to offer a degree of customization that allows you to create the perfect plan--one that can be easily adjusted as your practice changes and grows over time. The best plans enable you to set pricing according to your plan's subscription and procedure costs, and customize the services your plan provides. They enable you to offer additional subscription services like monthly payments and family discounts or cut back as needed according to your practice traffic and the fullness of your schedule. Great plans are simple to adjust without impacting current patients or piling on administrative work. Such flexibility and control enables you to create a plan that fits your patients' needs and optimizes your time so you can focus on patient interaction, not administration.

* Meeting patient preferences. Patients are smarter and more demanding than ever. They are web savvy and have been taught well through daily interactions, communicating, making purchases and managing their lives online. They cherish quality user experiences. They have little patience for poorly designed portals. The best patient portals allow patients to purchase, manage, and communicate easily and intuitively online. They are simple to use but rich in self-service functionality, enabling patients to take actions on their own, and thereby alleviating the burden of having to manage renewals and payments or even generate membership cards. Great dental membership plans have member portals that are not just technically advanced but meet the high standards of savvy online patients.

* Marketing the practice. Keeping your practice's schedule full is the number one growth-related concern of office managers, according to a survey by Futuredontics ( That means marketing, and today marketing is more complicated than ever. A highly effective dental membership plan has built-in marketing tools to promote the plan to your uninsured patients. This includes both old-school marketing materials such as print ads and at-counter promotions as well as cool, new online digital tools, like Google and Facebook ads and email promotions, or a "widget" that you easily place on your practice website to take patients directly to the membership plan sign up.

* Alerting you to every administrative task. In any busy dental practice, there's always the chance of forgetting some administrative detail in the rush to serve patients. Great dental membership plans serve as your personal assistant, automatically notifying you to patient activity and updates that can easily fall through the cracks. These platforms should alert you when a credit card is declined so you can take action. They should notify you when members join or when members choose not to renew. This makes it easy for you to review important information in detailed reports and manage and optimize your membership plan. No longer should information escape you, rather it should be served up to you in real time, so you can react, respond, and better manage the practice.

No doubt, the busy life of an office manager comes with great demands. A new generation of dental membership plans are being created specifically with you in mind. A good partner understands the daily challenges you face in managing a practice and makes it easier. These plans not only generate an important stream of ongoing revenue for the practice, they also afford untold efficiencies, allowing you to manage the practice as never before with a firm eye on the prize, which is always patients before process.

By Dave Monahan

Dave Monahan is CEO of Kleer (
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Author:Monahan, Dave
Publication:The Dental Assistant
Date:Sep 1, 2018
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