Dave Monahan is the CEO of Kleer, which is a cloud-based platform that enables dentists to design and manage their own membership plan for their patients. The Pennsylvania-based company encourages dental offices to offer an option to patients’ insurance plans, and Kleer often cites underserved patients as a marketing objective for a dental practice with a patient base that avoids dental treatment for financial reasons.
The Kleer cloud-based platform has a reputation for being easily implemented, and the company’s website claims that dentists can set up and launch an in-house membership plan for patients in as quickly as 15 minutes. Patients canpurchase a care plan from their dentists' website, the Kleer.com website, a mobile app, or the dental office’s front desk. Treatment payments are made directly to the dentist.
Monahan recently answered five questions for DentistryIQ.com about the dental hygienist’s role with in-house membership plans.
DentistryIQ: If a dental hygienist accepts a position in an office with a membership payment plan, what type of script do you recommend when the patient asks, “Will insurance cover it?”
Monahan: Membership plans are for all uninsured patients. This includes active uninsured patients, retiring patients who are losing dental benefits, and dormant patients who have not visited your practice in a while. While membership plans could also a better alternative than insurance, they are really an alternative to paying for dental care out of pocket.
If a patient asks about membership plans, a good response for hygienists is, “Membership plans provide an affordable, comprehensive dental care plan that is a budget-friendly alternative to paying out of pocket. Membership plans are simple to understand and cover your preventive care such as cleanings, exams, and x-rays and provides discounts on all other procedures like fillings, crowns, root canals, etc. These plans are a great solution for patients who self-fund their dental care, especially patients who don’t get dental benefits from work, retiring patients who are losing dental benefits, and patients who have not visited the dentist in a while.”
DentistryIQ.com: Even if a dental hygienist is not actively involved with enrolling patients in a membership plan, are there any clues that the hygienist can look for when a patient asks questions about finances? In other words, is there such a thing as realizing, “This patient might want to know about our membership plan”?
Monahan: Some indications patients may benefit from a membership plan are:
- They are uninsured.
- They own or are employed by a small or mid-size business.
- They are unemployed.
- They are retired or getting close to retiring.
- They do not visit the dentist on a regular basis. Last visit was more than 12 months ago.
- They avoid treatment and/or do not follow their prescribed treatment plan.
DentistryIQ: Do you see reform efforts regarding health care plans as encouraging dentists to consider membership plans? Or, do you see the societal efforts to control costs as discouraging to the profession?
Monhan: Historically, dental practices have little to no control over their business. One of the major benefits of membership plans is they help shift the control back to the practice. Unlike traditional insurance, discount dental plans, and even most other membership plans, Kleer-powered membership plans give practices total control over their plan. The dental practice sets the subscription price, the fees, and the discounts. The plans are 100% designed by the practice to make sure they fit the need of their business and the needs of their patients.
DentistryIQ: A big platform for dental hygienists is improving access to care. It’s not necessarily that patients are living in poverty. In some cases, it’s simply the location (usually rural areas) that prevents patients from seeking dental care. Is there any benefit to establishing membership plans for patients who commute a long distance for dental care, or even for mobile dental clinics?
Monahan: Yes, we believe offering a membership plan would be a great benefit for these patients. We have researched the reasons patients avoid dental treatment, and the top reason is fear of cost. Patients lack visibility into the how or why of dental fees. This lack of transparency has resulted in a lack of trust between the patient and the dental practice. Even when given discounts, patients still believe they are being overcharged for their dental care.
Membership plans provide this visibility and help improve the “dentist/patient” relationship. Utilizing the Kleer platform, patients are covered for 100% of their preventive care. They are able to see the fees and discounts associated with each restorative procedure. This transparency as well as the “club effect” created by membership plans will significantly improve treatment compliance and increase patient visits.
Patients who commute a long way will no longer have to guess the costs for the visit so they will be more inclined and less hesitant to more actively maintain their oral health.
DentistryIQ: How do membership plans such as Kleer help promote preventive dentistry?
Monahan: More and more each day, people are becoming aware of the connection between good overall health and good oral health. But still, they avoid their dentists mostly due to cost or fear of costs. Membership plans eliminate this and are a great way to get patients back in the chair.
With Kleer, patients can choose from up to five plans, and each plan includes cleanings, exams, oral screenings, x-rays, and emergency exams. For children, fluoride treatments are also included. This inclusion of preventive care gets patients over the hurdle and makes them more comfortable in seeking good dental care.