Taking the plunge
The number of dentists currently considering an imminent move to the private sector may be open to debate, but it is true to say that the question probably lies at the back of most practitioners’ minds for at least some of the time. Obviously the financial implications of any move are a major consideration both in terms of costs and future revenue predictions, and though often the grass may seem greener on the private side of the fence, most dentists still need a little reassurance before leaving the comfort and security of the NHS.
When I discuss the conversion process with dentists it is usually against a background of dissatisfaction with their NHS circumstances or in the hope that moving to the private sector will enhance their life, their income or preferably both.
Top of the list when it comes to making the decision to convert are the financial considerations and cash flow is a critical factor. In my experience many dentists enthusiastically embark on their new venture without giving due consideration as to how they will juggle their debtors and creditors. Unfortunately for some it doesn’t take much for the pendulum to swing in the wrong direction.
Payment plans can play a huge role in helping to ease such cash flow concerns. For the principal, being able to predict consistent income levels is of huge financial relevance as is the ability to maintain income during holidays or periods of natural slow down.
There are many questions that a dentist who is considering conversion should consider:
- How many patients do I need to attract privately to achieve my desired income?
- What should my plan charges be?
- How should I communicate the change to my patients?
- How can I attract new patients?
- How do I make my patients feel valued post conversion? This may include further questions about methods of marketing your services, treatments and advanced technology that is available at your practice.
In addition, the desire to retain control of the financial and ‘intellectual’ value of your business is a key motivating factor for many practitioners who make the move from NHS to the private sector. Most private practices spend financial and human resources on developing a ‘brand’ and some have found that the credibility of this has been undermined by their enrolment with a nationally branded payment plan – causing the differentiation of their practice from another, to diminish.
A payment plan
The decision to introduce a payment plan as part of your strategy to convert is an important decision for a practice and having the right kind of assistance is vital to ensuring the process runs smoothly, without disrupting the day-to-day running of the business.
At DPAS, we have many years’ experience of dealing with these situations and have helped to allay many of the fears of those in charge. We can advise and assist in communication with existing patients from the outset and have the experience to guide a practice through the process. Using our in-house facilities and the expertise of our external partner businesses we have the capacity to create ‘your’ payment plan and then develop it as an integral part of your practice brand.
Affordability is on the lips of all consumers at the moment and dental patients are no different. We know that many practices, of all persuasions, continue to experience a downturn in attendance for routine maintenance and a reduction in the take-up of treatment plans – complex or otherwise. Providing a solution for patients in this area can be of real value for both parties, and without a doubt dental plans have a role to play in providing a sensible means of budgeting for patients.
For practices there is the peace of mind in knowing that:
- Patients who have already paid for routine care are more likely to attend
- That a certain level of monthly income is assured.
This solution ensures a good level of preventive care can be maintained, which will reduce the need for extensive, often costly treatment that can result from neglect. Communicating this message in a clear, concise and positive manner is essential and can prove highly beneficial.
As a business owner it is important to be aware of the need to keep control of costs. By choosing a plan provider that understands your needs and those of your patients, it makes the process of convincing patients of the benefits of change much easier. For practices who convert a high percentage of patients with the help of DPAS, the benefits are further enhanced due to part of DPAS’s monthly charges being a flat monthly charge, made irrespective of the number of dentists, patients or plans involved.
Parting with hard-earned cash is difficult, so it’s essential that you partner with a plan provider that places high emphasis on ‘added value’. Practices can rest assured that DPAS does not compromise on the quality of our service and in addition to low cost plan administration, we offer a variety of business and marketing services to help practices maximise plan take-up. Be it through the support of a team of experienced consultants, excellent in-house facilities, or resources on practice marketing – be sure you get value for money when introducing a payment plan!
So for anyone teetering on the edge of the decision over whether to convert some or all of your practice, let me offer some reassurance. The introduction of a practice-branded payment plan makes financial sense and offers benefits to patients, so the most important decision is which plan provider to choose.
I would encourage all dentists to work with a provider that understands the conversion process and has experience of dealing with practices taking this step. In this way, you and your staff can relax and your patients can be assured that your move is in their best interests. Executed in the right way a move to the private sector enables a practice to control all elements of its service provision, helping to attract and retain patients, building levels of satisfaction that will provide a strong foundation on which to build substantial future growth.
If you’re considering the move to private practice or have just made the change, call DPAS on 03456 802 820 or visit www.dpas.co.uk and find out how we can help you make the most of private practice.