Stimulating cash flow with patient finance
Ruth Findlay, Business Development Manager at Medenta, and Katrina Morrow, Practice Manager at Aberdeen Orthodontics, discuss new patient enquiries during lockdown and the role of patient finance on their cash flow as they reopened…
One of the first things many practice owners will have done at the start of lockdown would be to look at numbers and try to forecast cash flow as well as they could.
Obviously, the individual circumstances of practices will have determined how optimistic that financial picture looked. However, it’s probably safe to say that even those at the more positive end of the scale would be keen to get cash flowing again.
Now, with the doors back open, many practices which offer patient finance are finding they are able to do just that, since a significant number of patients who enquired about services like Invisalign® during lockdown are going ahead using finance to spread the cost of their treatment.
100 new patients ready for reopening
The story of practices receiving lots of new enquiries from patients about Invisalign® during lockdown has been one that I have heard often during the past few months.
Indeed, this was the case at Aberdeen Orthodontics who had 100 new patients waiting to come in for Invisalign® consultations when they reopened the practice doors on 13th July.
Practice Manager Katrina told me that during lockdown the practice marketed their virtual consultations via Facebook and this is where most of their new patients came from.
She said: “While we couldn’t have patients coming into the practice during lockdown, we were using SmileMate so that they could take photos, send them in and then receive a report about their smile. The level of interest that we had from new patients was really pleasantly surprising.
“Doing this preliminary work online is really efficient at making sure patients who then come into the practice are really committed to going ahead with treatment. Since reopening, we have already seen around 60 – 70 of those 100 patients who contacted us during lockdown.
“Around 90% of those have gone ahead with the treatment using our patient finance from Medenta. Having that facility has been hugely important to our cash flow, because we get the full funds released from Medenta/Wesleyan Bank at the start of treatment.
“I think that in the current situation, practices without finance would possibly struggle to have quite as many patients going ahead with treatment, because while patients don’t necessarily have that lump sum, they often do feel they can afford the monthly repayments.”
Future-proofing your practice
Like many practices which introduced or radically increased their digital services, such as virtual consultations, Aberdeen Orthodontics intends to keep this going as we all continue to adjust to the new post-lockdown way of living and working.
Katrina said: “Now we’re back in the practice we are still using SmileMate, so the patient has the option of choosing an online appointment with the TCO to further discuss their options or book their in-practice appointment with the orthodontist using an online booking system.
“We’re definitely shifting everything to a more remote way of working and are trying to reduce the flow of traffic of people into the practice to those who are actually having treatment done.”
As we keep moving forwards out of lockdown, we cannot predict what might happen next when it comes to the spread of COVID-19 or its continued impact on dentistry.
The normal way of doing things has been significantly disrupted and some of the changes initially implemented look like they will be here to stay.
This is partly because some have found that incorporating more virtual services actually suits a lot of patients who do so much else online already, which may well prove to be the silver lining of this dark COVID-19 cloud.
It may also be partly due to practices searching for ways to future-proof their businesses to protect themselves against any new crises. From what we’ve seen during COVID-19, patient finance could well be one of those measures that offers a lifeline in hard times.
If you’re looking for a new patient finance provider, Medenta is holding a free webinar to discuss their subsidy rates, ‘ready-to-go’ online training, long-term support and you’ll also have the opportunity to ask your burning patient finance questions as part of a live Q&A. The webinar takes place on Tuesday 15th September from 7pm – 7.45pm. Book your place.
Ruth Findlay has been a Business Development Manager at Medenta, a provider of patient finance, since it was established in 2005. She has had a very long career in the dental industry including 11 years as a dental nurse in teaching hospitals and practices, and held roles as a Dental Materials Specialist and as a Regional Support Manager for Practice Plan.
Medenta offers some of the lowest subsidy rates in the market and is one of the few providers of finance solutions to also offer a comprehensive support service, including an online patient application portal and an e-learning suite.
For more information call: 01691 684175, or visit: www.medenta.com