Nationwide, dental providers and networks are challenged with adapting to shifting patient behaviors. According to the ADA, one third of adult Americans do not have dental benefits and of those with insurance, only one fourth are fully leveraging their plan. To maintain revenues in today’s climate, the industry is focusing greater efforts on finding new and inventive ways to attract and retain patients. Furthermore, providers and networks are becoming more conscious of the patient lifecycle and opportunities to extend and enhance it.
One aspect of the patient experience that is gaining more attention is payments. Most providers focus on the point-of-payment and ensuring that patients have alternative payment options available. Few take a comprehensive view, considering how payments influence patients not only after their visit, but also before they step foot in the office. Throughout the patient financial experience, there are untapped opportunities to attract and retain patients.
Pre-Care: Tackling Consumerism with Transparency
With 7 in 10 patients wanting to know their medical costs upfront, consumerism is the new norm. Whether a dental patient is experiencing pain or seeking routine care, it has become commonplace to shop around for a provider. Additionally, when compared with other healthcare services, dental care has the highest level of cost barriers. Estimated procedure cost, combined with reputation and reviews, are the leading influencers when selecting a dental provider. In response to these trends, providers and networks are increasing their level of price transparency by publishing costs for common procedures online and providing patients with detailed treatment plans that outline the procedure and associated costs. Despite these efforts, more than a third of patients still choose not to move forward with treatment due to cost and an unawareness of available alternative payment options.
OPPORTUNITY #1: Demonstrate affordability and help educate patients on available financing by supplying estimated monthly payments via financing on cost estimates. Affordable monthly payments can be perceived as more attainable than lump sum costs.
Point-of-Care: Increasing Case Acceptance with Financing Education
Although patient financing is a common offering across the dental industry, 52 percent of patients report being unaware of financing as a payment option. Furthermore, patients aware of and seeking financing are often left to navigate the sometimes-confusing experience on their own. In an effort to increase payments and drive patient satisfaction, providers across the industry are taking a more active role in patient financing by dedicating staff to support the effort. Educated and trained staff offer patients knowledgeable support; in turn driving sales and giving providers a positive return on their investment.
OPPORTUNITY #2: Tap into the expertise and support available through your financing partner. Leverage their training resources to educate your staff and keep them up-to-date on the latest offerings. Ask them to share best practices and advice on streamlining your experience. Explore the resources they have available to not only support your staff but also your patients through the experience.
Post-Care: Remaining Top of Mind Post Visit
Keeping your practice or network top-of-mind is a necessity. Modern marketing automation tools make maintaining regular patient communication easier but not necessarily more effective. How often should practices contact their patients, especially if patients only visit them once or twice a year? It is easy to cross the line from welcomed message to disregarded nuisance. Finding a communications balance that keeps you engaged with your patient can be difficult.
OPPORTUNITY #3: Patient financing supplies new occasions to naturally engage with patients who previously borrowed funds. Whether they have a timely question or are making a monthly payment, patients expect routine communications from their financier. Leveraging your financing partner’s communication channels, you can maintain brand awareness and drive repeat visits.
Health Credit Services’ patient financing solutions go beyond the point-of-payment, considering the full patient experience from pre- to post-care. Our team works closely with dental practices and networks to custom build more efficient and effective patient financing programs. Learn more at HCSloans.com.