Known as in-house Dental Savings Plans, or a variety of other terms, such as membership, dental clubs, VIP, loyalty or benefit plans. There are a number of providers that offer this service to dental practices, including ours. Most, if not all are based in the “cloud” and essentially deliver software as a service (SAAS).
But what are the features that you should look for? Who offers these services?
Membership should have its perks
One of the most subtle but important points for a successful savings plan launch is this: membership should have its perks. (If you remember nothing else from this article, remember that statement and you will be fine!)
Think about what a provider can help you offer your patients to keep them engaged long-term. Attrition is real and a subscriber lost may never return. Anyone can offer a subscription, but it’s important to offer patients value beyond just another subscription service. So whether it’s a free coffee or exclusive access to weekly office parties and weekend appointments, give them something that helps set you apart and keep them engaged.
Features to look for in Dental Savings Plan Provider Systems
- Patient Benefits: what can your provider help you offer your patients beyond billing?
- Administration: Creation, Management and Reporting of Plans
- Automatic Renewal: Patients should automatically renew in your plan
- Patient Lock-in: Are patients able to switch dentists while on the plan? If so, it may be a “shared” plan, similar to a discount medical plan, and may not be the right fit for your needs.
- Plan Pricing Options: Patients can get tier/quantity discounts for family members or length of subscription
- Plan Billing Period Options: Monthly, Yearly and other payment options for patients
- Provider Fees: How much of each transaction is the provider taking? In some cases it can be up to 25% or more, which can really kill profitability. There are 3 basic types of fees:
- Per patient/member fees: Charges monthly fee per member. Paying multiple times per plan is like paying per egg for a dozen eggs – these fees can quickly add up and may not scale well when you’re hungry for success.
- Flat fees: These aren’t based on usage, so no scaling here. Keeping track of your stats is important with this type of plan because costs per plan can much higher and you would never know it. These fees can be converted into per plan fees by estimating average number of sign-ups divided by monthly/yearly fee.
- Per plan/transaction fees: This type may offer a middle ground, since it scales with size and fees follow the plan instead of the member.
- Fee Passthrough: Can fees be passed through to patients? This can offset some of the costs above and make you more profitable.
- Ease of Purchase: Can patients purchase on mobile / tablet devices? How do they purchase?
- Post-Transaction Features: What happens after the patient purchases the plan?
- Self-administration: Can the patient login and manage their plan?
- Service-level Tracking: Lets you know how many cleanings or other services remain on the patient’s plan
- Team-level Tracking: Do you have team goals or do you roll it into production? Tracking at the team member level will help you identify problems and improve chances at success.
- Printable Materials: Do they offer brochures, cards and other items that are branded for you?
- Export Functions: Can you export the list – what if you want to switch providers? You could be held hostage by a provider you’re not happy with.
- Plan Limits: How many plans can you create? 1? 2? Unlimited?
- Branding: Is it your plan? Or is it owned by the provider?
Review of Dental Savings Plan Providers
- DentalStores.com (that’s us!) – full membership offering with PRODUCTS + SERVICES and low rates. Flexible pricing and a powerful platform that offers unlimited plan creation.
- BoomCloudApps – One of the first to offer this service – mature offering
- Illumitrac – Offers monthly patient plans with 3 options and high one-time processing fees
- Kleer – Standard feature set, Bills dental office monthly for each patient enrolled.
- Quality Dental Plan (QDP) – Also one of the first to offer this service – mature offering
- MembershipSavingsPlan.com – (non-cloud – not software) – Offers Plan Creation Service and a nifty Book by Chris Phelps
- DentalHQ – simple offering with 2 plans – allows patients to switch between offices who are on the platform for a small fee
- DenAdvantage – offers national/regional plan – also offers in-house private plan
- Carington – expensive per patient (fees up to 50% of plan purchase price), can cross-promote with a national discount dental plan
Discount Medical Plans vs In-House Savings Plans
National/Regional discount plans are not the same as in-house savings plans since they have multiple dentist providers across the country or region who agree to service any member patient for a discounted fee schedule. It’s similar to traditional insurance in some ways, with the major difference being that there are no reimbursements, offices simply collect a discounted fee for services.
These discount plan networks may have required discounts and/or rates that dental practices must offer any member, while members are free to choose to use another dental office within the network at any time. Some discount plan networks charge members a fee which are not shared with dental offices, even if they are within their network.
In-house savings plans are specific to one office (or dental group of offices). One major difference between in-house and national/regional discount plans is that the dental practice defines the terms of the savings they wish to offer – these discounts are not defined by some unrelated 3rd party. Additionally, these plans are not portable between unaffiliated offices – the patient must use it at the office(s) to which they are a member. It benefits both patient and practitioner.
What makes DentalStores so different?
At DentalStores.com, we offer your patients an all-in-one in-house membership plan, where they can purchase BOTH products AND services from the office’s online store. It’s cost efficient and extremely beneficial to patients. Offices can generate revenue through sales of products or services, while offering incredible savings to patients. It’s truly a WIN-WIN.
Regardless of which software you choose, make sure it will serve your patients as well as your office. It needs to help engage your patients or you will lose in the long run. Dental Membership Savings Plans should have their perks – what do you offer? Why will patients stay with your plan?