Richard Scarborough looks at how introducing patient finance into your practice can help you get back on your feet once you’re able to reopen your doors…
With the UK arguably facing the biggest financial challenge of its generation, it’s not just dentistry that faces a lack of financial stability. The whole country is looking to the future to see how they can weather the storm.
Now more than ever, dental practices will need to evaluate the needs of their patients and remove barriers that get in the way of treatment uptake.
The financial impact of lockdown: two sides of the coin
One impact of COVID-19 on people’s attitudes towards their finances, may well be more caution around paying for treatment upfront.
Lockdown caused, and continues to cause, a lot of uncertainty and anxiety, some of which will be related to personal income; unemployment figures have been rising and factors such as furlough and reduced working hours have affected the income of many households.
On the flip side of the coin, figures from the Bank of England show that household savings are increasing, with a £16.2bn increase in deposits in April alone (in the six months up to February 2020, household deposits rose by an average of £5 billion per month).
And since shops began reopening at the beginning of June, the public has flocked back to spend money on non-essentials. This suggests that the impact on households’ income crosses a spectrum and there will still be scope to promote your practice and that there will be demand for your services, once you are able to deliver them.
Indeed, as we have progressed through June, Medenta has seen a rapidly increasing number of finance applications from patients to pay for treatment with orthodontic aligners (particularly from women aged 20-35); as you might expect applications for this treatment have accelerated faster than other treatment types.
Allowing your patients flexible payment terms may well help them overcome the potential barrier of not wanting to pay for your services outright. At the same time, finance agreements are paid to the practice upfront at the start of treatment, with any risk of non-repayment carried by the lender, which could be welcome as you begin rebuilding your business.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that patients generally expect that dental practices who offer more costly treatments, such as dental implants or Invisalign®, will also offer options to help them spread the cost.
Perhaps in the wake of COVID-19, patients will be even savvier when it comes to looking for other payment options that suit them, and potentially alternative practices to deliver the treatment if they think your payment options aren’t up to scratch.
Support your patients and support your financial future
Introducing more flexible payment options can give patients the opportunity to still go ahead with treatment they need or want – and clearly the demand and desire for orthodontic aligners is still there.
Offering them a way to spread the cost, will help them to continue with treatment, while giving you peace of mind that you are doing your best by them in terms of the service you offer.
From a business point of view, you can secure treatment plans, giving your practice more reliable cash flow as the money is received upfront.
The figures above show it is not a black and white picture when it comes to the impact of COVID-19 on the public’s saving and spending habits. Finance can help to open up the possibility of maintaining or extending your treatment range, potentially speeding up the recovery process.
Richard Scarborough is the Head of Medenta, a long-established provider of patient finance. Medenta has been supporting dental practices for over 15 years with finance solutions that help patients to say ‘yes’ to the treatment they want. Offering some of the lowest subsidy rates in the market, Medenta is one of the few providers that offers its practices a comprehensive support wrap-around service, which includes an online patient application portal and an e-learning suite containing a range of learning modules, many of which come with vCPD and have been tailored specifically to the dental industry.
If you’re interested in learning how Medenta can help you to improve your patient experience, give us a call on: 01691 684175, or visit: www.medenta.com
Medenta Finance Limited is a credit broker and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Medenta Finance Limited (Registered in Scotland No SC276679) Registered address: 50 Lothian Road, Festival Square, Edinburgh EH3 9WJ. Tel: 01691 684175.