‘It’s about the practice, not the plan provider’

shutterstock_332288498Dr Colin Gardner, practice owner and principal dentist at Botanics Dental Care, Glasgow, explains how DPAS has helped update his membership plan.

I have been the owner of Botanics Dental Care in Glasgow since 2008, taking over premises that have been home to a dental practice for nearly 50 years. We are almost an exclusively private practice and very much geared towards preventative care, adult aesthetic orthodontics and implants.

When I first bought the practice DPAS was already in place as the plan provider, and I was certainly very happy with the service they were offering to our patients. However, I had inherited a fairly complicated system of multiple plans that I felt didn’t focus enough on preventative care and I wanted to make certain changes to our plan provision.

The system I inherited offered patients a capitation scheme that included examinations, unlimited short hygienist appointments, X-rays and all treatments except laboratory bills and implant-related work for a fixed monthly fee. I had experience of operating this type of capitation plan from other providers in the past, but I felt that it had some shortcomings, both for the patients and the practice. As often happens with this type of plan, we found many patients hadn’t had their banding updated for several years, resulting in some patients paying larger amounts of money and getting less treatment, whilst others were paying less and getting more.

Simplifying the plan

I wanted to offer my patients a maintenance plan, with a greater emphasis on preventative care, and working closely with my DPAS consultant we set about looking at what I wanted to achieve and to develop a plan of action.

We worked together to simplify the plan structure with the aim of making it easier for patients to understand what they were actually getting for their money. This also made the administrative side of plan provision a lot easier as well, much to the relief of our administrative staff. I believe it is also a much fairer method of rewarding patient loyalty whilst encouraging patients to take ownership and responsibility for their own oral health.

Louise Bone is our DPAS representative and I have been working closely with her on marketing our new plan, as part of the wider promotion of the practice itself. She has been a great support throughout, carrying out research into our local demographics to see how we can best promote plan membership to the local community. She gets involved with the team, and importantly she listens to our needs and then tailors a solution.

Promoting the plan

DPAS has provided us with treatment leaflets and publicity materials, which we have been allowed to brand in the way we want. This positioning of the plan as being from Botanics Dental Care rather than DPAS is really important and is another positive aspect of working with DPAS – it’s about the practice, not about the plan provider.

All of my practice team play a part in promoting our plan and DPAS has ensured we have all undergone the necessary training to do so. It is crucial to me that if my team are asked to promote something – whether that’s a treatment or a plan – they have belief in it and understand the benefits.

This understanding is very important as the team needs to be able to explain these benefits to our patients and demonstrate that we can’t provide the same on the NHS. Aside from the obvious benefits of enabling patients to spread the cost of routine care, not having to pay extra for X-rays and receiving a genuine discount on private treatment, we are also able to spend more time with patients to discuss treatment options. This makes the experience more pleasurable for the patient and they feel when they make a decision about their treatment, it’s an informed decision, which they positively choose rather than us telling them what to do.

Another important factor is that dental plans provide a steady and predictable income stream. This makes life easier to plan and helps me make decisions about my business and how I might invest. Knowing I have a regular fixed amount of revenue at the start of each month also makes staff holidays less of a worry as well.

We have recently had DPAS’s Web Portal installed. This has made life a lot simpler in terms of practice administration as patients can register or amend their details online, either in the practice or from home. The portal provides us with monthly reports for reconciliation and at the end of each month we can easily check our records are up to date.

I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend DPAS’s services to other practices. I am very satisfied in the way our dental plans have been implemented and run, as well as the continuing support we receive from Louise and the team at DPAS head office.

To find out more about DPAS, visit www.dpas.co.uk.

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