Shula Wilkinson shares with Dentistry what a typical working day looks like for her and the rest of the highly responsive and award-winning team at Patient Plan Direct.
Patient Plan Direct is one of the UK’s leading dental plan providers, providing cost-effective dental plan solutions to hundreds of practices across the UK.
At Patient Plan Direct, our core focus is our clients. The team strives to give the best and most personal service we possibly can, whether this is at an initial point of contact when a practice calls us to make an enquiry about our solutions or supporting existing clients with managing and growing their plans.
The client services team’s responsibilities are varied, from providing initial training to answering support queries, managing plan provider switches, patient communications, payment administration and everything in between.
We follow our clients throughout their dental plan journey, supporting them at every juncture, making it an incredibly rewarding role.
The beginning of the client journey
For our team, the beginning of the client journey usually starts with online portal training.
All practices that work with us will have access to a dedicated and fully branded online portal to manage their dental plans.
Although the portal is highly intuitive, it’s important that we provide practices with initial training so they can understand its capabilities and how to get the best out of it.
Usually performed over a video call, a member of my team will walk through a demonstration portal with the practice’s front desk team.
We provide a deep dive into the portal, explaining and running through the extensive suite of reports and how to access the easy-to-use dashboards. This can display a range of information at a glance.
We also cover the quick and easy new patient sign-up process and how to manage cancellations, failed collections and review payment history.
What we really try to get across is how everything can be done at the click of a button. Our solution can be completely paperless and is geared to be as user-friendly and efficient as possible.
Alongside our client services team, the business development team provides in-practice training to ensure the team is well versed in promoting the plan and nurturing a great patient journey to encourage plan uptake.
The business development team is on hand to deliver any further support, training and tools.
They offer regular review meetings to ensure we help in keeping plan-related objectives on track.
As well as the initial client portal training, we provide informative portal guides and tutorial videos.
We also have a live chat function within the portal – if clients have questions, we’re available via this facility, email or phone.
Personal and highly responsive service is a number one priority for us. At Patient Plan Direct, there’s no such thing as an auto-response email, or ‘press one for further information’ – the client will always come first.
The feedback we have received from clients regarding training and ongoing support is fantastic, particularly from those practices that have switched from other plan providers.
They are comforted by the fact there’s always a member of our team there to support them with a query – no matter how big or small.
They will speak to the same team members and get to know our client services team on a first name basis.
The client services team’s roles and responsibilities are wide ranging.
A fundamental responsibility is the processing of patient payments.
Unlike other providers, we ensure funds are remitted to the practice as soon as they have cleared, and not held any longer than necessary.
We also process cancellations and any failed payments daily, providing practices with real time information via their online portal.
Other major responsibilities include managing patient mailings, whether that’s to communicate a fee increase, a switch of plan provider, or an NHS conversion.
It is imperative that patient communications are on time, written in a relevant tone and include the right messaging, so we will work closely with a client practice to ensure communications are tailored to their patient audience.
We also design and create fully branded promotional plan literature for our clients’ practices.
Additional responsibilities include processing requests for assistance under our Global Dental A&E scheme.
A huge benefit to patients, this is one of the few occasions we may have direct contact with them.
The discretionary scheme covers a patient while they’re away from home, have an emergency out of hours or an accident, require hospitalisation or develop mouth cancer.
Once a request is received, we will evaluate, and if approved, reimburse the practice or patient within a matter of days – it’s a quick turnaround.
The work and support varies from day to day, but each client services coordinator has a designated client portfolio, ensuring clients are provided with a consistent point of contact and responsive service.
We deal with things in a matter of hours not days.
The Simple Switch process
The Simple Switch process, the bulk transferring of plan patients from another plan provider to Patient Plan Direct, is also fully managed by our client services team.
The zero-hassle process is ideal for both the practice and the patient as no action is required from either party because we manage the entire transfer process on the practice’s behalf.
This involves working with the former provider and relevant bank to complete the bulk transfer process and communicating with the practice’s patients to inform them of the change.
Although the simple switch process is fully managed by us, we always keep the practice’s needs in mind, and liaise with them throughout the process to ensure everything is how they want it.
It’s a streamlined process, which frees up our clients’ times to deal with running their practice.
Working in a growing business
Patient Plan Direct is completing more and more Simple Switches each week, with many more in the pipeline.
It is an exciting time to be part of a business that is diversifying and rapidly growing within the dentistry marketplace.
I’ve been with the company since 2018, having joined as a client services administrator and have progressed to now be the team leader, and I am immensely proud to be a part of the Patient Plan Direct family.
Our personal and responsive client service offering only looks to enhance the service provided by our other teams including our business development managers and relationship managers, who support a practice’s plan growth and, for example, an NHS to private conversion.
As a result, we have built a great rapport and engagement with our clients, giving each and every one of us a passion and a drive to provide the best possible service we can.