Win-Win: Why Membership Dentistry

Membership Dentistry is transforming the dental industry. On this 30-minute webinar, you will learn how implementing an in-house membership program is a win-win for your practice and patients.

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Jeff Cole
Chief Executive Officer
30 min read
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Join Jeff Cole, CEO & Co-Founder of Pearly, to learn how Membership Dentistry is transforming the dental industry.

On this free, 30-minute webinar, Jeff highlights key challenges facing practices today and how implementing an in-house membership program is a win-win for your practice and your patients

See examples of how dental practices that embrace Membership Dentistry:

  • Protect against declining reimbursement rates

  • Attract fee-for-service patients

  • Improve dental hygiene recall rates

  • Generate more net revenue per patient

  • Increase case acceptance

  • Meet rapidly changing consumer expectations


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Please see below for the webinar transcript (not a perfect copy so our apologies!), but you can access the full video webinar here.

Transcript: Win-Win: Why Membership Dentistry is Better for Practices & Patients

Slide 1:

Alex: Hi everyone, and thank you for joining this webinar! I am Alex from Pearly and I'm excited today to dive into another Pearly Practice Growth webinar focused on the: Win-Win: Why Membership Dentistry is Better for Practices and Patients.

Slide 2:

Alex: I'm excited to introduce Pearly Co-founder and CEO, Jeff Cole, who will be leading us through the webinar today. Jeff, over to you.

Jeff: Thanks Alex and thank you everyone so much for joining. I'm really excited to be with you here today and dig in on why we think membership dentistry is the future of the industry.

Slide 3:

Jeff: Before we get started, what we do here at Pearly is provide practices with best-in-class membership plan platform. My business partner Fred Joyal says it best and we have a great team here with dental industry experts as well as leading technologists.

Slide 4:

Jeff: So back to the matter at hand, the webinar Win-Win: Why Membership Dentistry is Better for Practices and Patients.

Slide 5:

Jeff: So first off, what is membership dentistry? This is a term that's used in a lot of different ways. You hear membership dentistry, in-house membership plans, in-office savings plans or subscription-based dentistry. They all mean the same thing.

Slide 6:

Jeff: How I like to describe it is, it's like Amazon Prime but for your dental practice. Think about a the leading membership or subscription programs today like Costco or Netflix.

Slide 7:

Jeff: It's really about putting your practice in a direct relationship with your patient. More practically, patients pay your practice a subscription fee or membership fee for the plan. The plans typically include preventative care and discounts and other procedures. The big difference is that your practice sets your own pricing treatments and terms. This is not dictated by a third party. It's not like a discount dental plan that's national or a PPO.

This is a program that your practice offers directly to your patients. So you can imagine when an uninsured patient walks in the door and they don't have any dental benefits, you can offer them an adult pro, which includes, for example, two professional cleanings, two regular exams, oral screenings and emergency exam if they need it, and discounts on other procedures. Note: dental membership plans are not insurance.

These are just examples of a practice that includes a child plan, an adult plan and a perio plan, but we've seen practices who offer one plan, two plans and up to six plans. There's many different ways to craft your membership offering so it fits with your practice.

Slide 7:

Jeff: The biggest benefit here, the real unique part about your own in-house membership program is that it cuts out the insurance middleman. We all know the challenges and what we'll dig in a little bit more here, but the key benefit of membership dentistry is it really keeps you closer to your patients. You have a direct relationship and as we'll dig into in more detail, it's a win-win, both for your practices bottom line as well as for the patient.

Slide 7/8:

Jeff: So, why should you implement this? Well, before we talk about the real benefits and why leading practices are implementing membership programs and really adopting the membership movement, let's first talk about some of the common challenges that dental offices face today. First off, declining reimbursement rates. This is, when we speak with dentists, this is the number one concern. And really with good reason.

Slide 9:

Jeff: Reimbursement rates, for example, declined 8.7% in 2019 for solo practitioners. Depending on your state and the programs that your office offers and accepts, these numbers may be even worse. As insurance companies take a bigger and bigger bite out of the apple, it's hurting your bottom line. So increasingly practices are trying to figure out how to protect themselves against declining reimbursement rates. I'll show you how offering an in-house membership plan does exactly that.

Slide 10:

Jeff: Second, maintaining high patient recall rates. As every good office manager or a doctor knows, your dental hygiene recall rate can make or break your practice. Today's patients are busier than ever before. And it's increasingly difficult to remind your patients to come in twice, three times a year for their cleaning.

And this is so important since attracting that initial patient and really acquiring that patient for their first visit can be so costly that you want to keep that patient loyal. And this is really a huge challenge that practices continuously tell us about. And again, we'll dig into a little bit about how membership dentistry eliminates this problem.

Slide 11:

Jeff: Third, always need new patients, right? Attracting fee for service patients is so critical for the success of many practices. But uninsured patients, are not visiting the dentist due to perceived costs. We ran a study in 2019, a national survey, across different patients and I think more than half the states out there. The number one reason that people do not visit the dentist more often is the perceived cost.

However, what we found is that most people's perception of cost is many multiple times higher than how much it actually cost to go in and get a professional cleaning. So the beauty of membership plans, which we'll get into, is that the pricing is very clear. It's simple and it can offer a really differentiator to your practice by trying to attract these cash patients.

Slide 12:

Jeff: And finally, changing consumer expectations. This is not really news, but every single business across every industry is experiencing this. The millennial generation is the largest generation. They have the largest purchasing power out there and their trends related to dental care are troubling. The ADA recently did a study that showed that only 30% of millennials are actually visiting their dentist at least once per year.

Now a big reason for this, because there's many different factors, is that a lot of practices are stuck in the old model of complicated insurance paperwork, unclear costs, a very friction-filled experience for actually coming in, getting the appointment and paying for care. And there's a lot of things that every practice needs to do to really provide high quality experience for your patients.

And membership plans can be one piece of this. And it also really helps to modernize your practice and really give a differentiated offering to an increasing number of millennials as well as other demographic groups that you may be having trouble capturing right now.

Slide 13/14:

Jeff: So, at the end of the day, forward thinking practices are taking back control. They are addressing these challenges within house membership plans by adopting the membership dentistry movement.

And again, it's a win-win. And this is so important is that obviously as a practice owner or an office manager, you're looking at your revenue and profit numbers, but at the end of the day we need to make sure that any new initiative, anything that every office is doing is giving a win or is adding clear value to every patient.

Slide 15:

So let's start with the patient benefits. Right? At the end of the day, membership dentistry is about providing better care for your patients, especially those with no dental benefits.

So first off, they get comprehensive oral care. As I talked about earlier, your practice is in complete control of your plans. What's the price, what's included. Are there any procedure level discounts? This allows you to really make a bespoke offering that fits the need of your patients. Every office is different. Every demographic area is different and membership plans allow you to craft the perfect comprehensive oral care membership plan that provides that preventative care to your patients.

In addition, they can be affordable and really simple. This is what's so critical and what's missing of every single insurance plan and other dental benefit. It's so complicated, but with membership plans, you can allow your patients to enroll in 90 seconds online, directly in your office and be very transparent about what the price is and what they get in exchange. And of course there's no annoying paperwork, no denial of claims or other insurance headaches to process because membership plans remove the middlemen.

Slide 16:

Jeff: So let's talk about the benefits for your practice. Well, the headline number is grow revenue and profit, right?

And how does that happen? Well, first of all, you're removing that insurance middlemen. So that large chunk and that reimbursement rate that they're dictating is now gone. Second is generating recurring revenue. This is such a critical point, when so many practices are living month by month and a bad month can really hurt you. Recurring revenue or subscription revenue comes in the form of the membership fees that are flowing to your practice every single month or every single year. And really it's helping turn your hygiene department into a profitable subscription business.

If and when it comes time to sell your practice, subscription revenue significantly boosts practice value. The highest valued businesses in the world have a reliable recurring revenue stream. And by embracing the membership dentistry movement, you can also get the subscription revenue. And a little later I'm going to show you how quickly this can add up for your practice.

Improving patient loyalty. As we talked about, recall rates and keeping your patients loyal to, not only your practice, but also loyal and acceptance of your treatment offerings. So members are committing to their regular preventative care and they're going to accept more treatment than uninsured patients.

So again, if you have a patient who maybe recently lost their insurance, or maybe it's a baby boomer who's retiring and their employer-sponsored dental insurance is going away, they may need to move to a different dentist, right? But instead you can give them a solution that keeps them at your practice and keeps them being a happy and profitable patient.

Finally attracting new patients. Right? We talked a little bit about millennials, but going back to let's say gig economy workers, an increasing percentage of the population are driving Uber, delivering food, working freelance. They do not necessarily have employer-sponsored dental benefits. And in fact, I think about one in three Americans over the age of 18 do not have any dental benefits.

This is where your membership plan is just a perfect fit and a huge sweet spot for these key and growing demographic groups like millennials, baby boomers, and gig economy workers.

Slide 17:

Jeff: So, that's all nice. Icons are nice, slides are nice, but let's get into the data. What does this actually mean? What are we seeing across the dental industry?

Slide 18:

Jeff: So first off, how I can understand how a membership plan patient is better than an insured patient. What does that mean? Well, of course it varies based on the plans that you accept as well as the reimbursement rates in your particular state, but on average 40% more net revenue to your practice. This is so critical because, again, you are setting the price. So even if you have a patient and you're offering a 10% discount, that's a far cry from that 40% or 50% cut that insurance company is going to take.

So at the end of the day, a member compared to an insured patient is more profitable. Because it's essentially a fee for service patient with the benefit of subscription revenue. And if you were to look at your a hundred patients that were membership plan patients versus insured patients, those members are going to be significantly more profitable.

Slide 18:

Jeff: Now, what about your uninsured dental patients? We get this question a lot with a hundred percent fee for service practice. Practices say, "Huh, well all my patients are already paying cash. I don't have the issue of reimbursement rates, so I don't want to make less revenue."

Well, the data suggests that it's actually the opposite.

The biggest issue with uninsured patients is they don't come in as frequently and by flipping your uninsured patients to become membership patients, they actually act like insured patients, meaning they're going to visit the office twice as often and they're going to accept more treatment.

And so what this means is that members generate more revenue than uninsured patients.

Slide 19:

So let's just do a quick review. If you're looking at your patient base and you're saying, "Okay, here's my insured patients," right? Well, I would definitely prefer them to be in my own membership program than a national third party insurance plan that's going to dictate my reimbursement rates, right? You get more net revenue and you control your plans and fee schedule.

But uninsured patients is really where membership plans thrive because this is a base, you probably have a lot of patients that are inactive, dormant, aren't coming in as often as you like. This is a great offering to go out, help them get the care they need, encourage them to come into the office more by getting their regular and comprehensive care], they save money, have a better experience and ultimately it helps your top and bottom line.

Slide 20:

Jeff: Now, we touched on this a little bit, but I cannot stress this enough to every practice we talk to is how the addition of a profitable recurring revenue stream can make for your practice. It's a huge difference. So again, these are just some example plans that you're included, but let's just say the adult pro plan is $300 a year, right? With any membership program and most leading membership plan platforms, you can decide if you want to offer an annual plan or a monthly plan. Really it's up to you. And if you have questions about crafting and designing those specific plans, shoot us an email at hello@pearlyplan.com and we can certainly help you out.

Slide 21:

Jeff: But going back to this subscription revenue, it can add up really quick. So let's say you're just getting going and you're able to convert a hundred of your uninsured patients into members, right? Some additional $45,000 a year in high margin recurring subscription revenue. As you scale up getting, let's say, 400 members or 800 members, suddenly you're well over a hundred thousand potentially even over $200,000 a year in recurring revenue.

This helps smooth out your down months and gives you that confidence in that baseline of this just continuous recurring subscription-based revenue stream from the preventative care, from the professional cleanings that are coming in to your hygiene department. So, these benefits I think are really clear. There's practices all over the country that are just transforming the economics of their business and delivering better care to their patients by joining the membership movement.

Slide 22:

Jeff: But what we hear a lot of the time is, "Oh yeah, I've heard about a membership plans or in-office plans at a conference or on a webinar like this one, but it seems like a big initiative or it seems like a really difficult thing. I don't have the team to manage it. I don't have to staff. How am I going to do billing?"

Those are all factors preventing practices to really dive in and really join the future of the dental industry.

Slide 23:

Jeff: Now, what I'm going to walk you through is exactly how practices using Pearly can join this membership movement and can offer an in-house membership plan tomorrow if they like. So first off, we at Pearly are really committed to making this turn-key. You at your practice, your staff, you have so many things to worry about, so many different things that we want you to get as much benefit from offering membership plans as possible with as little hassle and his little headache in his little work.

Slide 23:

We created the turn-key membership plan platform. And this is how it works. First off, creating your program. So as we talked about, you're 100% in control of your plans. With our intuitive software and our plan builder, drag and drop really easy, we have a set of templates that we've compiled from best practices, but you can also build them from scratch.

So we work with your team to create really the perfect program that involves different plans for the different segments, child, adult, et cetera, as well as plans like Perio. And you can choose the specific treatments, link up the CDT codes and assign a value so you can show the members what they're saving and you can set the price based on what makes sense for your practice.

In addition, you can include discounts on other procedure categories to encourage and increase that case acceptance rate. But the bottom line is that it's very easy leveraging our templates, leveraging our expertise and our easy to use software to make it really easy to create these plans.

Slide 23:

Jeff: Now, once you have a great program, well if no members or no patients actually become members, well then what's the point? So we help you and give as many tools as possible to make it seamless. The first and most critical thing is having a frictionless signup experience. This means opening all the different doors and all the different avenues that patients can become members.

First step is the signup site, so we personalize a beautiful signup site for you that allows people online, on their desktop, on their phone, anywhere to enroll in 90 seconds. They can create an account, view all the plan details, see what the pricing is, enter their credit card, boom, they're a member.

In addition, we have a really unique system of text and email invite. So let's say you're at the patients at the front desk. You've handed them a flyer, there may be interested, but don't want to take action right now. We make it really easy for you to send a text and email invite so they can view the different information and sign up from the comfort of their own home. Jeff: In addition, we help personalize and ship you buttons, brochures, office materials so that it's very visible and very obvious to patients that you offer a membership program.

Now in the 2019 patient preferences survey that we commissioned, we were shocked to learn that two in three patients nationwide, were unsure if their dentists offered a membership program.

So, if a patient tells you no, they're not interested. Okay. You can refine, optimize the plans, but if they have no idea whether or not you offer one, that is something that your practice is doing wrong and the platform you've chosen to help manage and offer your membership programs is not doing their job.

And we certainly want to make sure and help that membership plans are front and center every single time to every single patient who goes into the office. I'd also encourage you guys to check out the Pearly Practice Growth Academy. We did a recent blog article called the Rule of 7, which talks about the whole patient journey and different ways to engage them and let patients know that you offer this great membership program. Because again, we want those numbers to be and how can you generate $20k, $30k, $40k, $50k a month in recurring revenue from these membership fees?

And finally, outbound marketing. So incorporating membership plans with your marketing to new as well as existing patients. Again, depending on your area and your demographic, and we've seen it happen many times, offering a membership plan and making it clear to uninsured patients that you offer this benefit is going to work a heck of a lot better than the tired $99 new dental patient special.

Slide 23:

Jeff: Now third, and the last piece here is you've created your program, you've promoted it, members are signing up. Well, how do you know how it's doing? Well, through our practice portal, you can monitor everything. It's all tracked automatically and you can go in and look at beautiful stats and graphics that show you how many members you have, how much revenue's coming in, the payment history, your renewal rate, which is so important, as well as the breakdown of different plan types and be able to get all of your info on every member in a HIPAA secure environment.

So again, this is so important in terms of training and accountability with your team. When we work with our practices and do a monthly check and call, we like seeing this cumulative revenue number tick up every month as well as the new members signups. And with our platform, you just can see everything in one place in a really simple way.

Slide 24:

Jeff: Now, I won't go into pricing and too much detail on this, but we only get paid when your practice gets paid. We don't charge you a bunch of upfront fees or hidden fees. We win when you win and we can grow with you. If you're interested in learning more about our specific solution, head on over to Pearlyplan.com/demo, book your free consultation with an expert. We'll go ahead and walk you through, look at your existing patient base, look at some of your pricing, give you some recommendations on plans and let's just have a conversation to see if Pearly would be a good fit for your practice.

Slide 24:

Jeff: Questions. So, thank you for submitting questions on here. We're going to be able to get two of them right now. If you have any additional questions that I'm not able to answer, shoot us an email, hello@pearlyplan.com and we'll make sure to get you the information they need.

The first question we have here is from Marty. Marty asks, "This all looks good, Jeff. How do I incorporate the billing into my practice management system?"

Great question, Marty. So first off, every practice management system is a little different, but the vast majority of practices actually from a kind of a billing and reconciliation perspective, treat a member, their in-house membership plan like another insurance plan.

So you can set up a new insurance plan, add in the specific discounts and then run everything in the same way so it fits nicely and there's no additional workflows. Again, depending on how your office tracks everything and your specific system could be a little different. But again, shoot us an email at hello@pearlyplan.com and we'll make sure that you're doing it in a really seamless and easy way because the goal is not to create additional work but just fit in with your existing workflows.

Second question we have here is: "how does the online signup work?"

Great question. So, what we do is we create a landing page or essentially a personalized site for you that can incorporate your logo, your colors, all the different plans. This can be linked directly on your website or through a website widget. And essentially it just without you having to do any work, our software allows you to offer membership programs online as simple as it is to sign up for Netflix or Disney Plus.

So, patients will be able to go on there, works on mobile, works on their desktop and go ahead and sign up really easily right away. Again, if you have any other questions, please shoot us an email at hello@pearlyplan.com and we'll be sure to answer them.

Slide 24:

Alex: Great. Thank you so much Jeff and thank you to everyone else who did send in additional questions. We will reach back out and get those answered. And as he said, any further questions, please reach out to us, hello@pearlyplan.com. Our team loves to engage with practices and we look forward to hearing from you.

Jeff: Thank you. And one last thing, appreciate everyone joining and like we said at the beginning, this is another webinar from The Practice Growth Academy here at Pearly. We're always releasing actionable dental practice guides, articles, videos, so head on over there and you can check out all of our great content really with the goal of helping your practice grow.

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