You've spent some time trying to wrap your mind around dental membership plans and the benefits of adding reliable, recurring revenue to your dental business. Now, you may be wondering — how do you make sure to create a membership that's profitable, the perfect fit for your patients, and brimming with value – without risking burnout or putting your bottom line at risk?
This article covers everything you need to know.
What is a membership plan model?
A membership plan is a subscription-based model that gives consumers increased access to purchase goods or services for a monthly or annually recurring fee. This model appeals to businesses that wish to offer customers a more exclusive or personalized service and convenience. It is also a new revenue source, discovery tool, and competitive differentiator.
Gartner predicted by 2023, that 75% of organizations providing products or services directly to consumers will offer subscription services. This goes beyond news outlets, streaming services, and wholesalers but across industries and verticals, including healthcare and dentistry.
How are memberships being popularized in healthcare?
This year, Amazon introduced an affordable healthcare subscription service for uninsured consumers. Amazon Pharmacy's new Prime membership benefit, RxPass, offers patients access to medications that treat over 80 common health conditions at an affordable price of just $5 per month.
Additionally, healthcare providers have started to adopt a membership model for primary and preventive care services, improving how patients access care and accept treatment.
The modern membership plan model is poised to evolve healthcare by delivering enhanced patient engagement and convenience, increasing loyalty, improving retention, and offering a new sustainable revenue source for healthcare providers.
The impact of membership plans in Dentistry
Currently, in the United States, roughly 77 million individuals are without dental coverage. Research from Accenture reveals that of 21,000 consumers surveyed, 71% cite access as a top factor in selecting a new healthcare provider.
Dentists that offer a membership plan can better attract and retain patients, from retirees who have lost dental benefits to patients working in industries that don't provide them to patients whose insurance is out-of-network — and everyone else in between. Dental membership plans help patients and their families access the dental care they need at a transparent price, as determined by your practice.
Additional membership plan benefits include:
- Decreased marketing spend: New patient reappointment rates average below 50%, meaning practices spend a lot of marketing money to get patients in the door, but most never return for further treatment. Once you enroll a patient into your membership plan, you don't have to spend more money marketing to them again. In fact, membership plan patients visit 2-3X as often, accept over 100%+ the amount of recommended treatment, and are 80% more likely to renew their subscription year-over-year.
- Decreased appointment cancellations: Membership plans help build a direct relationship with patients, including their routine care. As patients continue to utilize and pay for their benefits, this guarantees they value their plan and their health. If your membership patients consistently book — and keep — their hygiene appointments they are less likely to cancel over time.
- Supports the whole community: Membership plans deliver more than just a financial return on investment — they drive impact. By improving community access to care, dental practices report increased patient satisfaction and loyalty, and treatment acceptance. Patients in your community feel better about the value of services and are more connected to your care.
- Develop insights to impact practice decisions: Understanding patient behavior and willingness to accept and receive care is essential to your dental practice. Membership plans offer real-time insights into plan utilization, treatment acceptance, and overall health outcomes. This makes it easier for practice owners to monitor patient behavior in real-time and make adjustments to the plan design and offerings, helping practices more efficiently manage their populations and close gaps in care.
- Improved financial forecasting: A membership plan model allows you to predict future revenue accurately. For dentists facing demand fluctuations or preparing for a slower time of year, recurring membership plan revenue can help balance seasonal change.
Making the switch from an insurance-based practice to a membership model
Membership plans help break down patient-provider pain points and strengthen the practice coverage foundation. Practices can do it themselves or utilize advanced, easy-to-use digital platforms to automate plan management and provide patients with greater convenience and flexibility.
Reducing your dependence on PPOs will protect your business and streamline your procedures. Plus, removing the interference of a third party leaves the decisions about care and treatment up to you.
Shifting from an insurance-based model to a membership plan requires thoughtful consideration. How do you explain this shift to existing patients without alienating them? How do you design and launch a program that ensures maximum success? Here are some simple solutions.
Strategic communication steps:
- Identify patients impacted: Run a report from your practice management system to identify patients who are covered by each insurance plan you are dropping. The report should include the patient's name, insurance plan, last visit, next visit, email, and phone number.
- Communicate the change to patients impacted: You must proactively communicate PPO changes to your patients. This can include a series of emails, calls, and discussions during visits. You cannot over-communicate.
- Communicate the "why": Explain why you are moving away from insurance and the benefits of a membership plan to your patients.
Membership plan best practices
- Provide comprehensive treatment: Include preventive care—usually two cleanings, two exams, and routine X-rays each year—and discounts on additional treatment.
- Provide transparent pricing and price it right: Transparent pricing builds patient trust. Price your plans to achieve the optimal balance of patient value and practice results.
- Ensure compliance: Dental plans must adhere to multiple federal and state regulations, including HIPAA, consumer protection laws, fee splitting laws, advertising laws, and payment processing laws.
- Make it simple to join: It should be easy for patients to sign up from any device and anywhere.
- Make it easy to pay: Consider whether you will offer monthly or yearly payment plans or both. More now than ever, patients will appreciate the option to pay monthly installments.
- Make it immediate: Begin benefits the moment a patient signs up.
- Make it hassle-free: Eliminate sign-up fees, deductibles, waiting periods, annual maximums, and preapprovals. Assign a plan coordinator: Assign one person in your office to manage and track the plan.
- Get your team on board: Make sure all team members, including the doctors, understand and promote the benefits of a membership plan to your patients.
- Offer your plan to everyone: Don't pick and choose to whom you offer your membership plan. Membership plan patients are worth 2-3X the value of the average uninsured patient.
- Set goals and track progress: You can start small and then build. Initially, set a goal to sign up 25% of the uninsured patients you see each week.
- Promote the plan: Promote it in your office, on your website, and through social media.
Choose a dental membership platform that supports your success.
Everyone wins when you provide a comprehensive, transparent, compliant, hassle-free membership plan. To simplify your approach, Kleer can help.
Kleer powers some of the fastest-growing dental practices and DSOs with subscription-based dental membership plans. From building and pricing your plan to onboarding, marketing, support, and beyond, we have the expertise and insight that comes from working with thousands of dental practices across the country.
Transform your practice with Kleer’s industry-leading membership plan solutions. Get started today!