Providing personalised plan support for practices

Matthew Hadman, the new business development manager at Patient Plan Direct, talks us through what sets PPD apart from other plan providers.

Describe your journey into dentistry 

My career started in the wider healthcare setting. I entered dentistry when I ran a successful private practice with a large plan, patient base. Following this, I went to work for another of the major plan providers. I was with them for three or four years. During the pandemic, I moved away from plans and managed a practice for around 12 months but now I’ve joined Patient Plan Direct.  

Plans are what I’m passionate about and even from the very start of my career, plans have been a major factor in the success of the businesses that I’ve ran. You don’t realise what you enjoy until you step away from it. 

How would you describe the key pressure points within dentistry right now? 

The obvious one to the profession and to the general public is that demand way outstrips supply. It doesn’t matter how many hours a day a dentist works. They’re never, ever going to achieve looking after their whole community because there’s just far too many people trying to access a service that is under significant pressure. I think the pandemic has added to that.  

Some patients have gone two and a half years without being seen. So a well-maintained NHS list that was easy to look after is now full of high needs. 

There’s also a massive recruitment issue. Principals are struggling to find associates and now we hear stories every week about associates leaving practices because they do not want to work within the NHS system. A lot of them are citing the pressures of the NHS, the disrespect in terms of last minute announcements during the pandemic, and the expectations are unacceptable. 

What is PPD doing to alleviate these problems? 

A dental plan provider is a major support in wanting to leave the NHS because there is a lot of financial security with an NHS contract. For example, a dentist knows that he’s got income coming into that building every month. If you if you were to just surrender that contract and hope that patients are just going to walk in and pay cash over the counter, that’s quite a big risk to take. So the dental plan mitigates that risk.  

A dental plan gives you fixed and predictable income each month. That will help to replace some of that income that you’re used to from the NHS. 

There are two main options, the first being a partial or principal-led conversion. This is when the practise wants to retain the NHS contract or they want to retain a reduced proportion of it to service with associate dentists. But the principal dentist wants to only provide private treatment.

That worked really well beforehand. But the problem we are now seeing is that local area teams and health boards are not willing to negotiate on contract values or the terms with practices. It’s either all or nothing in some cases. This means many then have to consider a full conversion – this can be quite a lot of work and some hand holding is needed. That’s what we are there to do.  

We go through a whole viability assessment – are there enough patients? Could a conversion be successful? What will it look like in terms of income replacement? 

What is it that PPD deliver that is particularly unique? 

Patient Plan Direct has always been known for its low admin fees. That’s always a great entry point – we are going to help practices save money on their admin costs. We’re often two or three times lower in terms of our admin fees compared to the other major competitors in the market. The other major competitors will charge a higher fee because they talk about offering wider services and additional bells and whistles. 

What I would always say to a dentist is consider what do you really want from a plan provider? You might be led to believe that you need all these additional services, but are you going to end up paying a lot of money for something that you don’t really utilise or access? 

We’re a great provider if you just want somebody who’s focused on supporting you to leave the NHS, make sure that plan is super successful and give you really personalised support. 

We also don’t have a massive corporate entity sitting over the top of us. We’re not influenced by other arms of the business. We are a sole plan provider. 

When considering an NHS conversion, it is a massive, massive decision. It’s probably the biggest decision that a dentist is going to make in their career.  

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