The keys to membership plan success in 2022

The keys to membership plan success in 2022

Matthew Hadman shares seven key steps to achieving membership plan success at your practice in 2022.

During the pandemic, practice owners that ran fully or predominantly private practices with a strong base of membership plan patients, no doubt slept easier at night than those that rely on a pay-as-you-go business model.

With doors closing so suddenly, practices weren’t able to provide care and thus not generate revenue. However, for practices with a strong plan base, recurring membership fees continued to be collected, providing a vital income stream from loyal patients that had previously invested in their long term care and commitment to the practice.

With this in mind, it begs the question, why wouldn’t a practice offer patients a membership plan? It’s an offering that is suited to the vast majority of practices, and if the formula is right, it’s a win-win for both a practice and patient – from both an oral health and financial perspective.

With so many practices keen to grow the private side of their practice and patients arguably more willing than ever before to invest in their oral health, considering an increasingly health conscious society as a result of the pandemic, what does it take to achieve membership plan success in 2022? Let’s take a look:

1. The right price point and options

Firstly, keep it simple. If you have too many membership options that confuse your team, they won’t talk to patients. Three to four memberships will be sufficient for most practices to meet the needs of their patients.

Then, you need to make sure the membership fees stack-up against your pay-as-you-go fees to make membership the most cost-effective way to be seen in the practice.

I’d always advocate maintenance plans over capitation – they’re much more patient friendly, as the patient only pays for appointments they will definitely need, and from a business perspective, they don’t put a financial ceiling on your earnings.

2. Oral health-led promotion

It is key to remember the real message behind a dental membership and convey this to your patients as the main driver for joining. That message is health.

Statistics show that patients on a membership will visit their dentist more regularly compared to a pay-as-you-go patient. Membership patients visit at the correct recall and, as such, have problems identified earlier and are treated more quickly.

This supports optimal dental health for the patient and reduces their risk of needing invasive treatment later on.

3. Don’t hide behind a leaflet

It is so important to talk to patients to ensure they really understand all the benefits of joining a membership.

A leaflet isn’t customer-friendly and doesn’t build a relationship. The conversation should always be led by the dentist, giving an oral-health endorsement to the membership before passing the patient to the front desk team who can discuss additional benefits and fees. Remember: people buy from people.

4. Reviewing plan pricing ongoing

Regular fee increases are the gold standard. Reviewing your prices every year and increasing regularly by small amounts is much more patient-friendly than a larger increase every few years. It’s also really important to make sure when you review your membership prices that you review your pay-as-you-go fees too, to keep everything in line.

5. Manage your running costs

The costs of running a practice are ever increasing – when working with a plan provider, make sure you’re not paying a premium for services you don’t really need or are unlikely to use.

For example, working with Patient Plan Direct can mean you pay two to three times less than you would with other major providers. Yet you can still access expert advice, training, marketing resources and support to help you achieve your membership goals.

6. Engage with expert advice and support

A do-it-yourself plan can seem the most low-cost way, but once you have more than a handful of patients on a plan it is likely to become very resource and administratively intensive.

Alongside this, there is no expert support available. Don’t add this pressure to yourself, or your team – work with a plan provider that represents value, like Patient Plan Direct, who can do all the administration for you and offer you expert support while keeping your running-costs manageable.

7. Consistency

Talk to every patient – memberships need to become a habitual conversation to make them successful, so consistency is key. Don’t ever be afraid to revisit a patient who once said no. No doesn’t mean never, it means not now. Keeping the conversation flowing helps educate patients on membership benefits and increases uptake.

You can meet the Patient Plan Direct team at the upcoming NEC dentistry Show, 13-14 May, on stand E45 or visit for more info.

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