The ongoing pandemic has forever changed how dental service organizations (DSOs) deliver care, maintain financial viability, and support their people. The most recent American Dental Association survey found that the pandemic’s economic impacts are stabilizing, but patient volumes remain at 90 percent of pre-pandemic levels.
To compensate, one in five DSOs are raising fees, and 16 percent are changing suppliers. However, with millions of people losing employer-sponsored healthcare in the last year and more people than ever setting out as contract workers or freelancers, DSOs will need to do more to grow their practices and expand their patient rolls.
For many DSOs, membership dentistry is the answer. Powered by subscription-based payments, membership plans augment existing insurance or cash-only users by providing a direct-to-consumer coverage methodology that allows DSOs to attract and retain new patient cohorts.
At membersy, we bring together everything required for DSOs to launch and grow a modern dental membership plan experience. As DSOs look to make their practices more patient-friendly and financially sustainable in the year ahead, here is a checklist for adding membership dentistry to your practice.
Today’s dental consumers expect a highly personal and connected experience in everything they do. Membership plans meet that demand, and these efforts are most successful when DSOs are well-equipped to manage a professionally administered dental membership plan.
For instance, a dental membership plan is not insurance. Instead, it’s a licensed dental savings plan offered by dental practices directly to patients. With a membership plan, DSOs charge an annual subscription fee that provides members with access to various services included in the requisite plan.
While DSOs have established training protocols for insurance-focused patient protocols, many will need to level up their teams to account for these new offerings.
Membership plans allow DSOs to reach millions of patients who choose to forgo critical dental care because of the perceived high cost of dental care services. For example, membership plans benefit:
- Uninsured “cash-paying” patients
- Freelancers and contract workers
- Seniors (Medicare doesn’t cover dental)
- Patients unhappy with their PPO plan
- Anyone looking for affordable dental care.
To reach these potential consumers, practices will need to promote their membership plans. Best practices include:
- Displaying membership marketing materials in high traffic areas of the practice
- Presenting membership plans to all patients at the time of service
- Illustrating the membership plan’s exclusive member savings as a side-by-side comparison to standard retail rates.
- Communicating to patients the ease of membership enrollment.
Effective promotion can help reach new patients while offering alternative engagement methods to existing patients, adding ease and flexibility to the consumer experience.
Once staff is prepared to support membership plans and promotional materials encourage new signups, quickly onboarding new patients becomes a critical next step to success. Membersy-connect, membersy’s online partner dashboard, makes this process simple and easy. Created with a cadre of integrated automation features, DSOs can quickly:
- create new members accounts
- view and edit member details
- add new dependents
- enter billing information.
Once new members are outfitted with an account, they can easily manage their appointments, benefits, and dental health outcomes.
Account changes and modifications are inevitable. Some consumers will want to update their billing information or change their subscription plan to account for shifting life circumstances. That’s why membersy makes it easy for patients and office staff to cancel an account’s subscription, renew an account’s overdue subscription, or reactivate an account’s subscription.
In this way, DSOs can provide continual, hands-on support to their members, providing a personalized experience that changes alongside their demands.
The year ahead promises to continue reshaping health care generally and dental care in particular. To be as responsive and progressive as possible, DSOs should regularly report and assess data related to their KPIs, ensuring that their membership plans are delivering the experiences and outcomes needed to nurture a growing and sustainable organization.
Dental care will never look the way it did before the recent pandemic, and we shouldn’t want it to. Rather, by remaining agile and deploying new patient support opportunities, DSOs can reach more people, achieving their mission and vision with excellence in 2022 and beyond.