Kaitlyn Cole 0:00
Hello, and welcome to the dental education podcast with class solutions. This podcast is a community of dental professionals who share their knowledge and experience in order to provide value to you and your dental practice. I'm your host, Caitlin cool, also known as the K in class, this episode talks about membership plans. In order to get the best information for that I sat down with Brad James, who is the Director of Partnerships at clear. Everyone, we have Brad James with us with clear, and we're really excited to have you on today. Brad, thanks so much for your time. Before we get started, I'm gonna have you just kind of introduce yourself and stay what you do for how long maybe and just give us a little bit about yourself.
Unknown Speaker 0:41
Sure. Thanks for having me on, Caitlin, first and foremost. And yeah, as she said, my name is Brad James, I'm the Director of Partnerships at clear. And essentially what we do is, you know, we provide a dental membership platform for dental practices. And a little bit bit of background about me, I've been clear since May 2018. I started off as a sales development representative, and then kind of grew into my role that I'm in today. And essentially what I do is I build business relationships with other other dental companies within the industry. So if our customers are looking for any value ads, outside of membership plans, maybe it's marketing, web design, PPO, optimization, whatever it is, it's essentially my job to go out there and build those relationships, and vet out who's the best and who's the best, and who we want to strategically align with for our customers. We're based out of Philadelphia, and haven't really seen much of the light of day during these times. But uh, but hopefully, it's all coming to an end, it looks like it is soon.
Kaitlyn Cole 1:42
Yeah, let's hope so. Um, so I'm going to ask you a couple of questions today. And we're going to start out with the first question, and that's going to be what is a dental membership plan? Sure.
Unknown Speaker 1:53
So dental membership plan, I mean, they've definitely been gaining a lot of traction in the past year or two. And essentially, what it is, is, it's a way for dentists to offer dental dental benefits directly to their patients that don't have insurance. So it's a way to essentially build that relationship, build that loyalty with those uninsured patients who want the coverage, they just either can't afford it, or they don't have the means to getting access to something that's favorable and affordable for them. And it's great for the dentists because, you know, when you work with P POS, and DMP O's, you know, they're telling you where to set your fees, where to set your treatment protocol, with a dental membership plan. It allows the dentists to have full authority and autonomy when it comes to customizing the plans when it comes to pricing treatment protocol and procedural discounts on you know, what's outside of their membership plan what's outside of their hygiene and preventive care. Because typically, what's involved in the membership plan is it's almost a bundle of that patient hygiene preventive diagnostic care, we typically see that it's like to pro fees, oral exams, routine X rays, and one emergency visit. They can customize it fully and create the verbiage that they want. But that's the most vanilla type of membership plan we see out there. So it's essentially a way to offer these uninsured patients dental benefits that they want. And it's a way for the practice to offer directly to the patient.
Kaitlyn Cole 3:27
Love that. So essentially, like a win win.
Unknown Speaker 3:29
Kaitlyn Cole 3:30
Yeah. All right. So the second question I'm going to ask you is why should a dental practice implement a membership plan now as part of their COVID-19 recovery strategy?
Unknown Speaker 3:41
Sure. Yeah. So I know right now, to kind of preface before I jump into this. I know COVID-19. You know, it's kind of been beating the dead horse where I think a lot of people just want to take advantage. And obviously they do want to help out dentists. But you know, we genuinely have conducted a lot of research to make sure that it's something applicable and something that's great for the practice and great for the dentists. So, you know, if we're just looking historically, at crisises that have been recent, a lot of people just want to compare the COVID 19 pandemic to the Great Recession, 2008 and 2009 when the housing market collapsed. And basically what we're seeing is over that two year span, and we're comparing the two over that two year span with the housing market collapse, we saw that there were about 9 million Americans have filed for unemployment, so they lost their jobs right now. And today's date is April 30. Right now, we're seeing that over 26 million Americans have filed for unemployment now. You know, is that exactly the amount of people laid off? Because people are being furloughed? They're being potentially temporarily placed on leave or whatever? No, it's probably not a full 26 27 million but you know, there is still going to be A large percentage of those Americans that are going to have either their, you know, their employment stability, their salary, or their benefits cut in some way, shape or form. So I think the reality is that right now, a lot of these uninsured patients and dental practices are seeing about 30% uninsured patients, active uninsured patients, on average, you know, we're only going to see that uninsured number increase. So essentially, what these practices want to do in the meantime, is that, you know, you want to be able to offer something that's, you know, something that's attractive for these uninsured patients, especially these newly uninsured patients that are used to having dental benefits, especially something that's going to be budget friendly, and affordable, when a lot of people are going through financial stress right now. So these membership plans are better than ever to essentially, you know, give those patients ease of mind, peace of mind. And also additionally, it's a way for you as a practitioner, to look empathetic towards your patients. And I mean, it truly is a great move, because you're essentially saying by implementing a membership plan, or at least offering one, if they already have one in house, you're saying that you understand the situation that they're in, you understand that they may be struggling and these Dental, dental membership plans are going to be a great way to really build that relationship and build that trust with these patients in a time where they really need it the most. And something that's also just really important to take in to account is, you know, if we're just going back to comparing it to the Great Recession, during that two year period, we actually only saw a 6% decrease in patient visits to general practitioners. So essentially, what that's telling us is, although a lot of people were dealing with financial stress during 2008, and 2009, they were still visiting the dentists on average. So dentists weren't really struggling for visits. But something that's also important to take into account is although they were visiting the dentist, there was a lot more stress on these out of pocket cash paying patients, which you can probably assume because more people are filing for unemployment and losing those benefits. So basically, the big picture is right now, it's an unprecedented time where these practices have been closed for, say, at least a month, we're seeing more so two months, and potentially three months depending on when these states are allowing dental practices to reopen. And it's, it's unprecedented, because there's a backlog of treatment, there's a backlog of treatment, and patients are going to be more price sensitive than ever. So there's no better way than to just be prepared and offer this to your patients then offering a membership plan.
Kaitlyn Cole 7:51
Well, that. So how would you say a membership plan helps patients access the care they need and drive treatment acceptance?
Unknown Speaker 7:59
Yeah, that's a great question. So I mean, it's great for the patients, because essentially, what you're gonna do is, no one knows. No one knows understands the practice and the patient base better than the dentists and the office manager. So what you what these practices should really do is you want to make sure that you're personalizing these care plans for your patient base, you want to make sure that you're pricing it in a way that you can see your patients being able to afford, but you also want to make sure that's profitable as well. So basically, what you want to do is offer something that's realistic, obviously, you get to control and dictate what type of pricing and treatment protocol that's best for your patients. And it's great, because now it's you're giving these patients access to care that they've been looking for. And what I mean by when I say that they've been looking for is we've actually conducted research and brought in uninsured patients and focus groups. And we have essentially found out that uninsured patients on average, even though they come in less frequently, and we're actually seeing that the average uninsured patient, only 17% of them come in for their annual visits. We're seeing that even though they come in less frequently, and they accept less treatment than their insured counterparts. We're seeing three huge value value add for for these uninsured patients. And essentially what these uninsured patients told us in our research is that they understand that their oral health is linked to their overall health. They understand that a healthy mouth leads to a higher quality of life. And they understand that a healthy mouth leads to living longer. So those are three huge value ads that these uninsured patients understand. But we wanted to dig deeper and basically figure out why are they not coming in and basically, you know when when at all, what it all came down to is that it all stems from the complexity. And from the lack of transparency from insurance companies, these uninsured patients, even since they didn't have any coverage, they didn't understand the pricing for for dental offices, so they thought that it was too expensive. And they thought that since they didn't have insurance they didn't want to come in. So what these membership plans are doing is, you know, we're putting the power back into the Dennis's hands. And in addition to that, you're giving these patients the transparency, and the ease to understand that they've never really had before. And it's something you know, if you just take a step back and just think about consumerism in general, you know, you want to understand if you're shopping in a store, or if you're shopping, or if you're looking for some type of service, you want to understand what you're going to be investing in. So essentially, these membership plans gives these patients the transparency, and it gives them the understanding and ease that they they know what's included, they know what they're paying. And, and we see subsequently, that treatment, acceptance goes through the roof, it actually increases about 50 to 75%, when they join onto the membership plan, so so it's really a bit of a no brainer.
Kaitlyn Cole 11:18
I love that setting the transparency and the expectations from the start. I think that's truly super important. Um, so I think you kind of touched on this a little bit, but what impact or maybe what are some of the benefits that a membership plan has on dental practice results?
Unknown Speaker 11:35
Sure. So everyone, I think no one can really argue right now that these dental membership care plans are a great, great benefit to the patient. But you know, what's, what's the deal for the practice is the practitioner going to be losing money by offering these plans? And, and that's something that we've essentially, that, you know, at clear, we want to make sure that we're proving the return on investment for these membership plans. So just from a research standpoint, what we've done is we've essentially extracted data from random customers of ours throughout all 50 states. And we essentially wanted to figure it out, you know, after a year, year and a half, two years of being unclear as membership platform and offering a membership plan to their patients. What does that ROI looked like? And it's really, really interesting, because before I kind of dive into what results we're seeing, you know, if you just look at businesses in general, throughout throughout the United States, and throughout the world, the subscription economy is kind of taking over where a lot of businesses are starting to rely on on membership plans, loyalty plans, VIP clubs, whatever the name is, they're essentially leaning on subscription business and why they're doing that is because essentially, what they're seeing is that members for their loyalty plan, spend two times more than non members when it comes to businesses. So basically, if we're stepping back into dentistry, you know, a membership plan is great, because subscription business is defined by a type of business where it's repeatable, but the consumer or in this case, the patient has options. And that really defines dentistry to a tee, where these patients, you want them to come in at least twice a year, unless they're a perio patient where they come in three or four times whatever, the dentist, whatever the dentist recommends. But essentially, what you're doing thing is, you know, you're telling these patients to come in two times a year. So that's repeat business. And then in addition to that, you know, in a lot of, especially metro areas, there is a high saturation for dentists. So there's definitely a lot of competition and a lot of options for these patients in the area. So you basically, through offering a membership plan, you want to make sure that you're I don't want to say locked in because it sounds, you know, it kind of might sound like a bad connotation. But essentially what you're doing is you're building that relationship and you're getting that patient to commit to their oral health care at your at your practice. But if I'm kind of bringing it back to dentistry, I know I mentioned that concern that consumerism members spend two times more, what we're seeing is literally almost the same exact thing to a tee, when we pulled the research that I was talking about a bit earlier. What we're seeing is a 2.1 times increase in production. So you know, I know some people might want to prefer think of it as production but you can also think about it as revenue to 2.1 times increase in revenue, or 2.1 increase in profitability for these patients. The the essence is that these paid these membership plan patients were formally uninsured patients, they came in less frequently, and they declined more treatment. And the thing is, as soon as they joined on to this and membership plan, their profitability and their revenue increases, you build that relationship with that patient. So, you know, we understand that for the patient, it's a great deal. But, you know, our research is, is showing us that for the practice, it's, it's profitable, and you end up turning those membership plan patients into your most profitable patients. So it's a win, it truly is a win win for both parties.
Kaitlyn Cole 15:23
So if a dental practice doesn't have a membership plan in place, right now, what are some of the best practices for implementing a membership plan?
Unknown Speaker 15:32
Yeah, so some of the best practices, I mean, it's pretty straightforward. But the most important part is that, you know, with these membership plans, you're getting their patients, you're getting them to commit to their hygiene appointments. And you're, and you're essentially, you know, 75% of human acceptance originally originates from hygiene. So that's the number one thing is, as soon as you get, as soon as you're offering your membership plan, you should be offering it to everyone. And you truly do want these patients to come into the office. And I think most of them, we're seeing an overwhelming majority take advantage of what they're paying for. But the biggest thing is, you want these patients to take advantage and come in for their hygiene visits, because that's essentially where the case acceptance comes into play. And that's where it really becomes profitable. But if I'm kind of going into the best practices, I'll just run you through a couple. So you want to make sure, like I mentioned that you're you're making it personal for your patients and for your local for your practice. So you want to make pricing realistic to where you're located throughout the United States. I understand practices identify themselves differently, whether it's a drill and fill, or whether it's a high end cosmetic practice. You know, either way, I think that dentists and the office manager has a good pulse on what they're paid on what their patients expect and what they're willing to pay. So you basically just want to make sure that you're personalizing it for your for that it's appropriate locally, where you're located, and also that it's personal for your practice. And in addition to the personalizing for your practice, you know, we work with not only GPS, but we also work with pediatric dentists. And we also work with Periodontics, as well. So, you know, they truly do have a full customization for these membership plans. And, you know, it really is personal for them where, you know, if it's perio, they can create parallel plants, if it's pediatric, they can create, you know, baby and toddler plans and create children's plans, it's full range of customization. And addition to that, you know, you want to make sure that when when it comes to the pricing, you want to make sure it's realistic in the sense that it's something that's fair for the patient, and affordable. And then something that's also profitable for the practice, you know, we see some practices that were doing it themselves in house with their membership plans. And you know, they price it too high. And they didn't see any, any signups or any patient enrollment. So that's one end of the stick where it's too profitable for the practice where no patients come in, and then you know, it doesn't end up being profitable at all. Or, on the other end of the spectrum. You know, we see we've seen some practices offer it at a very affordable rate where they're, they actually have a ton of patient signups. It's very popular, but we're seeing, but we see that the practice is losing money from their membership plan. So you really just want to make sure that you're finding that balance between affordability and profitability. Another thing to really take into account is, you know, I'm not sure if, if it's only dentists that are gonna be watching, watching this video and listening or if also office managers. But basically, the practice owner, for the most part is the dentists and you know, their clinician, first and foremost, and we understand that, you know, they're gonna be the one that ultimately signs up, signs off on implementing a membership plan. But you need to make sure that at least your office manager is bought on board is bought into the membership plan and is on board. Because for the most part, we see that the head administrator for these membership plans is the office manager. And you just want to make sure that you have that, that consistency and that synergy between front office and back office, you know, if the dentist is busy with patients all day and running the practice, the office managers is in the front office, making sure that things run well. So you want to make sure that you're getting commitment from everyone that's, that's involved in your practice, especially your office manager. And then you you do want to make sure that your your team is committed and believes in it as well. And then, in addition to that, you know, there's you know, you want to make sure that you're that you're training your team. So it's not just like you're implementing it and then you're kind of just letting it run itself. You want to make sure that everyone on your team feels motivated that they understand this a great opportunity for their for their patients. There is kind of a Miskin perception that, especially for dentists that compensate their hygienist based on commission, there is a misconception that hygienists will lose money from this. That's not the case. And we've actually, you know, if if we're just looking at ourselves as a company, you know, we have plenty of best practices to share with these prep with these dentists on how their high Genesis can be compensated. And then there's just a couple more best practices, make sure that you're offering it to all of your uninsured patients. I mean, we we've heard some practices that only offer it to their new uninsured patients, or maybe just newly retired patients that lost their benefits. You want to make sure you're offering it to all your uninsured patients new existing doorman. I mean, if you just look at it, as a business owner stance from a business owner standpoint, you know, we discussed that our practices are seeing a 2.1 times increase in profitability, like why wouldn't you want to offer that to everyone, you know, so we want to make sure that you're offering it to all of your uninsured patients, make sure that you're measuring your membership plan on production and profitability, not on just write offs and adjustments. That's a big no, no. Lastly, I've two more you want to automate. You want to automate processes, so that you're minimizing the workload for your team and for your patients. So like automating patient processing, automating member renewals, you just want to make sure that you're removing that administrative burden from your team. And then lastly, these practices, they want to be compliant with state and federal regulations. So from a federal standpoint, it's a lot of HIPAA compliance, then there's a lot of consumer protection laws. And then from a state standpoint, it really varies. But usually, most of the states outside of Washington State aren't too complicated or strict.
Kaitlyn Cole 21:58
So how can clear help a dental practice, launch membership plan now.
Unknown Speaker 22:04
So you know, it's really important, especially if we're just looking at the times, if you do want to get a membership plan up and running, you know, we can move as quickly as possible, we can get, make sure that this is up and running your teams trained, so that when your doors reopen, you know, your uninsured patients can join. We are a cloud based platform. So we can implement extremely quickly, all it takes is one onboarding call. And it's 3040 minutes, we essentially during that call, we'll design the plans get you up and running, we'll figure it well, we'll give recommendations on pricing and treatment protocol, the dentists can take or leave our advice, we just want to make sure that we're setting some type of bar for expectations. And essentially, after that 3040 minute call onboarding call, they're, they're up and running. So essentially, they're ready, they'll have access to their training videos on their portal. And that's how quickly we can move now, just from a standpoint of our technology, you know, we make sure that user experience for patients and for the front office team is extremely easy. We have six week product development cycles. So we're constantly taking care bugs, we're constantly enhancing the platform making the user experience much better. And then, in addition to that, you know, we want to make sure that we're truly partnering with these dentists, we are patient centric, we are dentists centric, so we are actually completely free to implement, there's no implementation costs, there's no startup fees, there's no standard monthly fees, practices, we actually charge per member. So we're performance based pricing when it comes to our services. So these practices can get up and running, have the team train, they'll receive all of our materials have access to the portals and our technology, and they won't pay us a penny until their first member signs up. So we are strictly performance based pricing. And, and in addition to that, you know, I think from a company standpoint, and from just a fundamental standpoint, you know, we're not just going to stand up these practices and move on to the next customer and move on to the next Dennis, you know, we have a fully equipped customer success team that's broken down into three divisions. We have our onboarding specialists, we have our customer growth specialists, and then we have our support specialists. So you know, we have three different points of contact that are going to be in touch with our customers to make sure that you know, not only are they going to have someone to lean on and you know, a holding hand if they need that support. But in addition to that, we'll be sharing best practices. We'll be sharing tips so that their feel so that they feel comfortable, their team feels comfortable when it comes to rolling out their membership plans. talking to patients about it. And in addition to that, you know, we have some great technology and algorithms in place that tracks our customers goals, to make sure that they're on pace that they're not underperforming. So, you know, there's definitely an accountability standpoint as well. The biggest thing is that, you know, we're truly delivering a white glove service and we want to make sure that these practices feel like that they have the support that they need to be successful, and they will get that working with clear. And then lastly, you know, we just have a really smart, proven leadership team that has some really, really impressive, like impressive backgrounds in the tech space. Like our CEO, Dave Monahan, he comes from Microsoft, we have other C suites and VPs that come from IBM and other really impressive tech background. So you know, you we're definitely in this for the dentists. We're in it for the patients, and we want to make sure that they're receiving the best tools to be successful.
Kaitlyn Cole 26:06
Awesome. Well, thank you again, so so much. We really appreciate all the information and your time. Is it okay if I leave your maybe like your email and your website for people to contact you after this?
Unknown Speaker 26:17
Yeah, absolutely. So if you need if you have any questions, if you want to set up like a virtual demo, to just see what the platform looks like and learn about our services, my email is just simply Brad at Clear K L. E. r.com. Or you can visit our website clear.com. And then, you know, if you guys want some more information or have any questions, like I said, please don't hesitate to contact me. And I'm happy to point you in the right direction or answer your questions.
Kaitlyn Cole 26:45
Thank you. Yeah. So everybody listening to the podcast, I will be putting all his information in the show notes. And then if you're watching this on YouTube, I will put all of his information in the description below. So make sure you reach out to him. Brad James at clear. Thank you so much again.
Unknown Speaker 26:59
Yeah, thanks for having me. Kailyn