NHS to private: great expectations

Morna Beattie on managing patient expectations

Morna Beattie, specialist financial adviser for Wesleyan Financial Services, shares how you may be able to meet heightened expectations of patients when moving from NHS to private.

The move from NHS to private often comes with an expectation of the grass being greener from a practice and practitioner point of view. Particularly after very little progress has been made in terms of NHS contract reform.

But when you switch the viewpoint from dentist to patient, you may have a few obstacles to overcome in terms of expectations that come with the transition.

Private dentistry is often viewed as the premium option for patients. For some, it’s a little out of reach when it comes to price. So, what can be done to meet patient expectations when it comes to moving from NHS to private?

A facelift for your practice

Consider elevating your practice if it’s looking a little tired.

For a long time, a spotlight has been shone on the dental experience and ergonomics of the practice setting. Getting this right from the outset is a high priority when it comes to meeting patient expectations of private care.

The transition offers a fresh start for your business. Ensuring that this lens is carried through to all areas of the practice helps with your patients’ experience. It can even enhance how you practise.

While your focus may be on décor and the aesthetics of the practice, remember that ensuring your working conditions are also optimal can be beneficial to your patients as well as yourself.

Practice refurbishments, expansions and investment in new equipment may be a consideration for you at this time. In which case, funding these changes will take time and careful consideration.

If you need support with funding, explore providers that offer business loans tailored to dentists. You can borrow the money you need to spruce up your practice and spread the repayment costs each month. This can help ease the pressure on your cash flow as you transition to practising privately.

Choice is king

One big obstacle to overcome in the NHS to private transition is your patients’ acceptance of change. This can be a challenge due to private dentistry traditionally being touted as the ‘expensive’ option in the media.

Here, two key factors spring to mind in terms of overcoming this challenge. The first is looking at maintenance plans that help patients spread the cost of routine care. The second is offering patient finance, which helps patients say ‘yes’ to elective or necessary treatment that wouldn’t be covered under a maintenance plan.

Challenges around NHS accessibility provide a good climate for patient acceptance. However, much of the UK is currently still in the grip of the cost of living crisis. So, payment vehicles are likely to be appreciated, especially by loyal NHS patients you hope to convert with you.

There is also a rising expectation to have a variety of payment options across all sectors, with the prevalence of ‘buy now, pay later’ providers such as Klarna.

Fortunately, dental plan providers such as Practice Plan and finance providers such as Medenta shoulder much of the burden when it comes to implementing and administering the payments. They also provide extensive training for the team, making the experience as seamless and compliant with financial regulations as possible.

If you’re looking to explore your options outside of the NHS and would like some guidance on where to start, you can book a no-obligation financial review with a dental specialist financial adviser at Wesleyan Financial Services by visiting wesleyan.co.uk/lifes-journey or calling 0800 316 3784.

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