Dental Patient Financing Trends During COVID-19
Ask any patient why they’re not ready to move forward with treatment, and they’ll likely tell you it’s a matter of price.
That’s more valid than ever as people struggle to overcome a recession, a pandemic, and fears about the future. Many are not willing to dip into their savings right now and are seeking alternative ways to afford the dental treatment they need.
Luis Dragonetti is the Regional Vice President of Healthcare Sales at GreenSky Patient Solutions, a patient financing solution for dental practices. In this video with Patient Prism CEO Amol Nirgudkar, he talks about the trends in patient financing since practices reopened, and how dental practices can maximize treatment acceptance.
Dragonetti has decades of experience in this area. He previously worked at Lending Club, and has also been an executive coach at Fortune Management. He’s worked with hundreds of dental practices across the country to optimize operations, increase treatment acceptance, and improve the patient experience so people will refer their friends and family and propel future growth.
Trend #1: Consumer Demand is Back
The good news is that consumer demand is back for elective dental procedures.
“We’ve seen that a lot of the dentists that offer cosmetic procedures are seeing an uptick in business,” said Dragonetti. “Some of that might be an overflow from procedures scheduled pre-pandemic, but also, consumers are ready to move forward. A lot of doctors are experiencing a lot of growth this month, which is beneficial for everyone.”
One of the trends is an increase in same-day treatment. This benefits the patients because they make fewer visits and that reduces their anxiety about infection. It also benefits dentists because each visit is more profitable. Plus, fewer patients means the team is using less PPE, which reduces costs.
Trend #2: Consumers Don’t Want to Use Their Savings
It’s been a tough time for millions of people across the country. They may have been furloughed, laid off, or had their pay reduced. They may not be able to return to work because of lack of child care and their future income may be unstable. They may have seen their retirement accounts take a hit. And many people may have health care costs or even funeral costs because somebody in their family contracted COVID.
All in all, it means fewer people than ever are willing to dip into their savings right now and are looking for other options to fit the cost of their dental care into their family budget.
Trend #3: Consumers Opting for Extended Payment Plans
When patients hear the total amount their procedures will cost, they often have sticker shock – and then they don’t hear anything else you say after that.
GreenSky teaches team members effective ways to answer questions about costs.
“The average patient doesn’t understand why they need to spend $5,000 for straight teeth, but they can relate to $80 per month,” said Dragonetti. “We coach our practices on how to leverage our extended payment plans to break down treatments into low, affordable monthly payments.”
By giving people a way that they can fit the cost into their family budget, they’re more likely to move forward with treatment.
“You’re addressing their pre-conceived notion that insurance will cover everything and you’re removing the financial stress of what they’ll have to pay themselves. You’re giving them flexible payment options, and they appreciate that you’re helping them be able to afford the care that they need,” said Dragonetti.
GreenSky offers revolving credit lines where patients can be approved for credit lines up to $25,000 and it offers installment loans for up to $65,000, which are typically used for one-time, episodic care. Click here for details.
Trend #4: Integrating Financing Conversations Earlier in the Patient Journey
Patient Prism has analyzed more than four million dental patient phone calls. About a third of new patients who don’t schedule an appointment cite concerns about how much their visit might cost, said Amol Nirgudkar.
Patient Prism coaches dental practice team members on what to say to address those concerns and move the patient to schedule an appointment. Click here to download our guide “Converting Calls During COVID-19.”
“It’s important that all of the team members reinforce the idea of affordability and flexibility of payment in all of their interactions with patients,” said Dragonetti.
Many successful dental practices even use low monthly payment options in their marketing efforts to attract new patients. Instead of saying, “Dental implants for $6,000,” they advertise for “Dental implants for $89 per month,” for example. Of course, dental practices must follow all local advertising laws and ensure they include all the necessary legal disclaimers.
Trend #5: Leveraging Technology Including Teledentistry and Online Chat
The COVID shutdown accelerated the deployment of several types of technology. Teledentistry and online chat were two ways dental practices could communicate with their patients when they were only providing urgent care services. Practices are continuing to use these technologies now.
GreenSky integrates into various platforms including telemedicine platforms, practice management software, and payment facilitators.
“Let’s say you’re a doctor and you’re talking to your patient over a telemedicine platform,” said Dragonetti. “We’ve embedded prequalification functionality into those platforms, so as you’re talking to them, you can say, ‘Hey, why don’t you go ahead and prequalify yourself. It doesn’t impact your credit and it will allow you to know the financing that’s available for you.’ That’s going to reduce a lot of the stress around financing, allow the patient to know how the cost will be covered, and it’s going to help the doctor to feel secure in his/her schedule.”
For More Information
For Patient Prism’s guide to Converting More Calls, click here.
For Patient Prism’s guide called Comeback Strategies for Dentists, click here.
For Patient Prism’s guide for Marketing Strategies During COVID-19, click here.
For Patient Prism's guide on Teledentistry Options, click here.
For Patient Prism's guide on Staying Safe in the Dental Practice, click here.
For more information on GreenSky’s patient financing options, visit www.GreenSky.com/healthcare. GreenSky Patient Solutions® is a program name for consumer credit plans extended by participating lenders to borrowers for the purchase of goods and services from participating providers. Lenders are federally insured, equal opportunity banks. GreenSky Patient Solutions® is a registered trademark of GreenSky, LLC. GreenSky Servicing, LLC services the loans on behalf of participating lenders. NMLS#1416362