Dental.

Becker’s Healthcare: How successful dental groups are helping patients afford their bills

Becker’s Healthcare

Antiquated financing options fall short of serving you and your patients. In fact, 88 percent of dental professionals report they aren’t completely satisfied with their existing financing solution. But when nearly 40 percent of Americans can’t cover a $400 surprise expense, how can you overcome the cost barrier to dental care without offering financing?

Join us as we sit down with dental executives for a panel discussion about the flaws with patient financing and how a modern approach better serves patients and their practices.

Key Learning Objectives:

  • Compare financing solutions and new advancements to determine which may be most beneficial for their practices.
  • See how real practices have realized a 25x increase in financing production and 150 percent more patient approvals.
  • Discover an accessible financing alternative with an over 85 percent approval rate.

What the full webinar or read the full transcript below.

 

Brian Zimmerman:

Welcome everyone to today’s webinar, How Successful Dental Groups are Helping Patients Afford Their Bills. I’m Brian Zimmerman senior director of client content strategy with Becker’s Healthcare. And on behalf of Becker’s, I want to say thank you for joining us today.

So before we get into our discussion here, I’m just going to walk us through a few quick housekeeping instructions. You can submit any questions you have throughout the webinar by typing them into the Q&A box you see on your screen. Today’s session is being recorded and will be available after the event. You can use the same link you used to log into today’s webinar to access the recording. If at any time you have trouble with the video or audio, try refreshing your browser. You can also submit any technical questions into the Q&A box. We’ve got folks on the line who are there to help. So with that, I want to get to some introductions. So I’m going to ask each of our panelists to introduce themselves, share a little bit about their organization and their role. Amy, I’m going to tap on you to get the ball rolling here.

Amy Eveland:

Okay. My name’s Amy Eveland, I am the chief operating officer for The Smile Group, which is fairly new. We are about to sign off on our sixth office tomorrow, so we have a new acquisition coming on. But I have 30 years experience in dentistry, started at the bottom with dental assisting and reception. I’ve done every position in the office that is possible. And I’ve been with the owner Dr. Burden for 28, 29 years of that. So just kind of come up through, and now running all six offices. We also have a call center in our practice that runs all of the phones, incoming/outgoing phone calls, things like that, for all of our offices. So, that’s me.

Brian Zimmerman:

Appreciate you sharing that. So folks can appreciate your perspective, definitely a unique one being that you’ve done every job basically imaginable in your career. Appreciate that, Amy. Tim, going to turn to you now for some introductions.

Tim Tursonoff:

Sure. My name is Tim Tursonoff. I’m the founder and CEO for ALFA Dental Management. We are a small DSO in North Florida, mostly in the Jacksonville market and surrounding areas. I’ve been in this business full-time for 16 years, part-time for almost 20. And our claim to fame is that we are probably one of the most, if not the most overbuilt small DSO in the nation. We are also doing something that not a lot of folks in the DSO world do, which is run primarily or almost exclusively as a service DSO. We’ve been a multi-office operations since 2011. And I have a wonderful team here in Jacksonville. We have eight clinical locations and a corporate headquarters, which basically is home to our call center, which handles all of our incoming calls and does most of the outbound work, obviously HR billing, collections, insurance verification, IT and data science, they’re all here.

Brian Zimmerman:

Appreciate you sharing all that, Tim. And thanks for being here. Jay, I’ll turn to you now for some introductory remarks from you.

Jay Letwat:

Sure. My name is Jay Letwat. I’m executive director of business development at Sunbit. Prior to Sunbit, I’ve got about 20 years of corporate leadership experience, really specializing in companies that are in hyper growth mode, specifically companies that operate a piece of software that is typically highly disruptive to the current market and really growing that and making that a market leadership position. At Sunbit I manage the dental practice I started at about two and a half, three years ago, and now we are growing pretty rapidly, both in single-unit, multi-unit, as well as the DSO space. And I’m happy to be here, Brian, to talk through things.

Brian Zimmerman:

Yeah, absolutely. And I know we’ll hear more about Sunbit as we move through the discussion. Appreciate that Jay. And Ryan, why don’t you take us home here with the introductions?

Ryan Heroy:

Sure, sure. Yeah. My name is Ryan Heroy. I’m the chief operating officer for BDG Dental Services, we’re out of fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada. We have 18 dental offices here in Las Vegas Valley. We also have six support subsidiaries as well, similar to Tim. We have a call center called Dentuity that also does all the back office billing and credentialing and all that fun stuff. We have a school, we have a dental assisting school as well called BDG Academy. We have a nonprofit called Project BDG. We also have a CE it’s called BDG Think Tank as well. So we have a lot of supporting subsidiaries for our 18 dental offices here in Las Vegas. I have 12 years of experience and all of it being with BDG Dental Services as well too. I’ve been with [BDG for the last 12 years. And I’m just happy to be here today, Brian. Thank you so much for having us.

Brian Zimmerman:

Thank you, Ryan. We’re we’re going to dive into our discussion now, and I’m going to start kind of broad here with this first one. So I’m going to ask each of our panelists here to share some thoughts on what they’re seeing, as what’s their take on the current financial environment in dentistry right now, and I’m thinking here both in terms of the financial environment for providers, DSOs and of course for patients as well. And Ryan, I’m going to tap on you to get the ball rolling since you went last on introductions.

Ryan Heroy:

Sure. And I’m a little biased. I won’t get into Sunbit right away, but we’ve been with Sunbit for the last two years too. But prior to that, we were mainly with other large prime financing companies, the 10,000 pound gorilla in the industry. And as a provider, it’s tough for a lot of these prime lenders. If we’re only seeing about 35 to 40% approval rates prior to Sunbit, that means that about six out of 10 patients are not approved and we can’t service them. So Sunbit’s kind of been a breath of fresh air from a provider standpoint. And I think obviously from a patient standpoint, being able to get treated has helped astronomically on that side of it as well.

Brian Zimmerman:

So some real challenges, at least traditionally speaking, in getting folks approved to get the care they need, which is a barrier to care for patients. Thank you, Ryan. Tim, do you want to build on those comments at all? What you’re seeing?

Tim Tursonoff:

Yeah. I wanted to try to address your question from a maybe, I don’t know, 5,000-foot view or something. But I mean you asked, what is the climate? The climate is changing, we feel. And Jay talks about that a little more. The government giveaways have basically been exhausted for the most part, at least in our area. So it seems like there’s definitely more folks these days that struggle to get financed. We operate in the areas where patients have been struggling to get patient financing for a very long time.

I chuckled when Ryan said 30, 40% approval rates, before Sunbit we had a few locations that were getting 22% and 24% approval rates on average. And I’ve been pushing patient financing for a very long time. We were doing, percentage-wise, from a payer mix perspective, patient financing has been big for us for seven or eight years now. And when Sunbit came out with their product, which our relationship goes back about a year and a half, if I’m not mistaken, Jay, that made a huge difference in our ability to facilitate funding for a substantial number of patients on a daily, weekly, monthly basis.

Brian Zimmerman:

Yeah. I appreciate that, Tim. It does sound like it’s a problem everyone’s running into really, getting folks the financing they need. Amy, do you any hook-ons here as to what you’re seeing on how you’re perceiving the financial environment in dentistry right now?

Amy Eveland:

Yes. I agree with both Ryan and Tim, everything that they’ve said. The only thing I would be able to add right now is just what insurance pays. Patients come in and they’re still paying the same thing that they paid 10, 20 years ago, and the copays are just getting higher. So being able to offer the financing, and a lot of our patients that come in don’t even realize that they could finance their medical and dental care, so being able to offer that now is huge for us, but it’s just getting into that insurance dynamic. And we don’t participate with a lot of them either, only just two, but still, the majority of our patients are on one of them, and the allowables are so low for that they’re out of pocket is getting out of hand for them. So it’s nice to be able to offer a way for them to get their treatment done that’s not killing them, and that it doesn’t need to be paid all at one time.

Brian Zimmerman:

I appreciate that, Amy. And I think I want to get into a question that was about what are the challenges with these traditional financing options, and I think we’ve sort of touched on that and covered a bit about already. But Jay, I want to give you some room here to speak to what you’re seeing in the industry.

Jay Letwat:

Sure, sure. So, I mean, if Tim was speaking from a 5,000 foot view, I’ll speak more of a 25, 30,000 foot view. Because basically, in patient financing you have two types of solutions. You have the one solution that’s been around for 30 years, 30 plus years actually, which caters to prime patients. And what do I mean by prime patients? These are folks that have typically FICO scores of 680 and higher. Now, unfortunately, in the US, most people don’t fit into that bucket. Usually, like what Tim was saying, what Ryan was saying as well, in terms of the approval rates of 30, 35%, that’s typically what we see. 30 to 35% of the country has a 680 or higher FICO score. Those are just the facts. So what happens is if you don’t have that high of a FICO score, and most don’t, you get declined from patient financing, which means you don’t get the dentistry you need. So that’s the first type.

Jay Letwat:

The second type that’s been around for let’s say 15 years caters only to the subprime market. And so those are typically onerous processes, sky high fees, APRs that could be two or 300%, ridiculous sign on fees, maintenance fees, annual fees, et cetera. They’re going to ask you five pages of information. They’re going to go as far as asking for your blood type. They won’t, but just to accentuate the point. So if you’re not prime, you have to go to these horrible subprime solutions, which are just terrible for the patient and also bad for the office because the office doesn’t want to offer them either.

So what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to combine, and we think we’ve done, it in which we have a solution which can approve both prime folks and subprime, because there shouldn’t be a stigma if you’re subprime, right? Subprime folks, they’re good people. They just may have had an issue with credit in the past. So because they had an issue with credit in the past means they don’t deserve to get the dentistry they need? I don’t want to live in a place like that where people who have a lower-than-average credit score can’t get the financing they need. So what Sunbit does, with our technology, is we’re able to approve a wide spectrum of folks from super prime all the way down to subprime.

Brian Zimmerman:

Thank you so much for laying that out, Jay. And I think that directly brings me to the next question I wanted to ask, which I think you did a nice job of also laying out why the traditional options are a struggle or a challenge for folks. But I’m curious, what is a modern approach then, as you started to lay out, Jay, to patient financing look like? Perhaps you can start us off on that question.

Jay Letwat:

I think a modern approach is consistent with what people are used to today. If you go to a store or you go online, you want easy, you want fast, you want transparent, you don’t want to fill out tons of paperwork. And I’ll give you a quick example, then I’d love to have the other folks at the panel speak. Typically when you fill out a credit card application, you’re asked, “Do you rent versus own? Are you married versus single? And what is your income?” These are questions, these are actually relics from 1975, which really have no bearing on the performance of the loan. But they’re asked because the credit card companies are basically stuck with 1980s technology that they need to ask those questions in order to come up with an answer in terms of the underwriting of the loan.

So I think it, a patient wants to come in, much like they order fast food from a drive through, you order, you pick it up two minutes later and you’re on your way. So what we want to do is the patient enters the doctor’s office, gets presented a solution, in 30 seconds you get approved and you’re on your way and you’re in the chair getting the dentistry you need. That’s how it should be, but that clearly is not how it’s been the past 25, 30 years.

Brian Zimmerman:

These are sort of relics stuck in time, almost. You get in a time machine when you go to a dentist office and try to figure out how to pay.

Thank you, Jay. I want to hear about what this modern approach has, because we’ve established the challenges of a traditional approach, but what have been the results of integrating this modern approach at each of your organizations?. And Amy, maybe you can start us off there.

Amy Eveland:

Just to add, I 100% agree with Jay, as far as the speed of service. And in the offices themselves, just that speed of service really helps us out as far as staff goes, being able to help the patient not sitting there for 30 minutes filling out the paperwork and then waiting for the approval and then really discussing what the approval was, if it was anything, it may not be anything and then you’re figuring out how else they can pay for it if they weren’t. So it takes a lot of time, as far as in the office with the patient, the staff. I mean it could be 30 minutes to an hour to work out some sort of arrangement so they can get their treatment done. And shout out to Sunbit, it takes 30 seconds. I mean, literally 30 seconds.

And then the advancement with this is it involves the patient a lot more in the payment that they’re going to be making. What’s more comfortable for them, they get three options to choose from, as I’m sure we’ll see later on. But it’s just the speed of service and just the easy… I mean, it’s visible. You can see it, the patients can see it. They actually select it, what’s best for them. And it’s just, it’s all digital, no papers, no blood work, none of that stuff. So it’s really good.

Brian Zimmerman:

I’ve got to ask, and I imagine we talk rightly a lot about the patient’s experience here, but I’ve got to imagine for staff it’s a lot easier to sit there and go through that process than have a 30 minute, hour long conversation that might be a little touchy about someone’s credit score. In my head just the-

Amy Eveland:

And I mean usually in a dental office too, it’s hard because a lot of patients aren’t going to want to share that information. It’s odd for them to come into a dental office and we’re saying, “What’s your income? Do you own or rent?” Those are questions that you wouldn’t typically expect at your dentist’s office. You just want to figure out how you can get your treatment done and move on. But yeah, it’s definitely a better comfort zone for staff and patients.

Brian Zimmerman:

Yeah. Tim, can you speak to what this new approach has done for your organization?

Tim Tursonoff:

Yeah. I mean, we live in an instant gratification society, everything’s got to be right now and if it’s not right now and if it’s not easy, it’s just not going to happen. It was the case five years ago, seven years ago, so even more so today, right? And when Jay started talking to us initially, and again, this goes back probably about a year and a half ago, one of the things that I did indicate to him, I did tell him that whatever you guys do, it’s got to be very easy on the patient, but also it’s got to be very easy from our staff’s perspective because I’ve been looking for a solution for our subprime patient base for many years. The first time we actually brought somebody on board to cover that particular segment of the market initially was 2013 and 2014.

That initiative died within six months, primarily because it was very difficult for our staff to facilitate the application process. And then again, for us, it’s very important to have a partner that is able to process these applications like Amy said, basically instantly, because we do see a lot of patients that have very significant treatment needs and they don’t go to the dentist every year, most of them don’t even come to the dentist every five years. Some of them have 10, 20 years of dental neglect. So this is the first time that they are… When they come to us, it’s the first time they’ve been to a dental office in 15, 20 years. So I know it sounds a little cliche, but I mean it’s a now or never type of an opportunity, and we are there to help them to get it done. And with Sunbits help, it’s been much easier.

Brian Zimmerman:

Yeah, I appreciate you sharing that. A lot of these people are coming in after 15 years of dental neglect. And then when you walk into an hour long experience to try to figure out how you’re going to pay for this care, it’s a massive barrier there. So I appreciate you sharing that, Tim. Ryan, I want to give you a chance to speak to how this approach has impacted your organization as well.

Ryan Heroy:

Yeah, me too. I think it goes to what Tim’s saying as well. There’s also a stigma of denial too. So if you’re having six or seven patients getting denied, it adds to that neglect as well that those patients have been having for the last 10 years. They don’t want to come back. They don’t want to apply for another application too. So having Sunbit… And we see the numbers, 90% is a hundred percent accurate. Since June, 2020, we ran over 1,900 apps with our group and we had a 90% on the dot approval rating. So nine out of 10 patients are able to be seen and treated, and I think that’s a huge difference. And for our organization, from that, we generated over 2.3 million dollars in revenue, and that’s a byproduct for us. We want to treat the patient. Obviously we have to run a business and we have to get revenue from that, but those were six or seven patients walking out the door every single day prior to Sunbit.

So 90% approval rating, a 30 second approval process. And something that no one’s hit on yet is also the training and onboarding. I know from our experience, and I’m sure it’s the same for Tim and Amy, but Sunbit, they have it as streamlined as possible, actually better than most of the vendors we’ve ever worked with financing or not. They come in, they train your staff the right way. And then most vendors, they’re done after their initial training, not with Sunbit, Sunbit has programs that they put on and training almost every single week and webinars, so it’s constant. And that’s what we need for dental practices, because in dental practices there’s tons of turnover. And I think that that’s a big issue that we all deal with. So having that training and that constant training and helping with those new team members, it really helps out a lot. So we’re very thankful to have Sunbit on our team.

Brian Zimmerman:

Yeah, sort of ease of use in patient education training. Jay, I think those comments set up perfectly, let’s see what Sunbit’s about. Can you maybe demo that for us?

Jay Letwat:

Sure, absolutely. So basically what I’m showing you here is the iPad that I have right in front of me. This is the iPad that we provide the office. So Brian, I’m going to ask you a very important question. Who do you want to be today?

Brian Zimmerman:

I’ll be Beyonce, that’s fine.

Jay Letwat:

Excellent choice. So the office team member would select their name, they would click scan card. They take the driver’s license, which I have in my hand, they flip it over on the back. There’s a barcode there, all you do there is scan that. And what happens automatically is my information gets extracted. So there’s my home info, phone number and email. They click, click continue. The front office staff ask, “Hey, is this your updated info?” If yes, they click copy to form. The patient clicks, agree to check options. Just like that, Mr. Patient you’ve been approved for $6,100. That’s it. So that’s about the 20 second process, but a couple of key things here.

One, that’s the 85 to 90% approval rate that Ryan had mentioned. We do it without a hard credit check. So it’s a soft inquiry to get approved, but even if the patient decides to take the loan, we never do a hard credit check. That’s something that’s very, very unique. So it never harms the credit of the patient to apply.

And then the last thing is we go up to $20,000 approval. So let’s say for instance, maybe you needed a root canal, $1,800. So what we do here is we have a payment plan for individuals based on their credit profile. So again, in this particular case, you can see we have five options, we call it The Cheesecake Factory menu. Let’s say for instance, the person wanted to pay over 48 months, very budget conscious, they wanted to pay $48 a month. So instead of paying the $1,800 today, they’re actually going to pay, as you can see on the screen, $1 down and then they’re going to pay over 48 months. Then of course I won’t go through it, but then of course, we kind of go through the transaction, which takes about another minute to two minutes and you’re done.

But it’s really easy and we want to make it so that the patient, because we don’t know what the patient is going through financially or otherwise, we want them to select the payment that’s most comfortable for them. So it could be, 12 months could be good at $135, $36 at 60, or in this particular case, we chose 48 months at $48. And that in a nutshell, Brian is how the demo works. Very streamlined, very quick, very easy.

And the staff, I’ll just make one final comment, because it’s so easy, the staff tends to offer it between two to four times more than whatever financing solution they had prior to Sunbit. Because the biggest impediment is not just the lack of approvals, which were at least usually doubling, like in the case of Ryan and Tim’s case, and also Amy’s, but because it’s so easy, they just offer it more. And that’s what happens now in terms of offering patient financing solutions, there’s a lot of apathy in the office and for good reason, why would you offer a solution in which seven out of 10 people get declined? It doesn’t make sense. It’s not human nature, we want to help people.

Brian Zimmerman:

Thank you so much for sharing that Jay. Very nice to be able to visually conceptualize what we’ve been talking about. So I think that’s very useful for our audience today. Ryan, I want to come back to you and ask… The question I want to move to next is really, how can organizations really make sure that they’re selecting the right financing solutions and technology that are best for them and their patients? What are some considerations you would recommend folks really thinking about as they look to what’s available in the market?

Ryan Heroy:

Sure, yeah. Similar to what Tim was saying before, for years and years we looked for a subprime lender. And like I mentioned before, you’d always start with your prime lender, prior to Sunbit, and then you’d have to go into now your subprime lender. So now the patient’s filling out double the applications, and sometimes they get denied for both. We never see those patients again. So I think when you’re looking for a vendor, a financing company, a payment assistant company, having that subprime and prime in the same place makes a world of difference. There’s not two separate applications for our staff too. You guys mentioned that before, but it makes it so much easier on them. Everything’s done through the iPad, make sure that the financing company is tech-based. At one point I remember us filling out paper applications and waiting a full day to be funded. And with these, with Sunbit, we’re able to be funded same day or the day after in most cases. And we’re getting all that money front too, which is very helpful for us.

Brian Zimmerman:

Tim, you want to build on those comments and talk about what you would advise folks to look into as they consider solutions available out there?

Tim Tursonoff:

Yeah. I mean, a one stop shop approach is obviously very attractive. Jay and the team have made some great steps in the right directions in terms of going after those higher loan amounts. We just talked about that just recently. I’ve been going to all these DSO conventions and dental conventions, and every time I would have a conversation with folks that are in the patient financing business, my message was always the same, I need my patients with lower credit scores and more moderate treatment needs to be approved for these loans that are $1,500, $2,000, $3,000. And I need my patients that do need a lot of dental work that have higher FICO scores and higher incomes, I need to have loan products for them that are attractive. Because one of the things Jay and I talked about, presenting a financing option to a patient that needs $25,000 worth of work and you that they have good credit and they have a pretty decent income, giving them a high fixed rate option, that’s just not going to fly.

And again, a one stop shop approach is wonderful and that’s been my message to Sunbit for a while. And they have just recently increased the maximum loan amount, and that is definitely very exciting because we do have a lot of patients these days that we do see for overdenture cases as well as fixed cases and those are pretty high dollar, regardless of how you slice and dice it. So having somebody who is able to provide those 12, 15, $18,000 loans is obviously a great service. And if it’s a one-stop shop, that’s even better. Because previously, we had three competitors that we used, the aforementioned 10,000 pound gorilla, Sunbit and we had another source that was being used exclusively for folks with higher treatment needs and better FICO scores. So a one stop shop approach is important. It makes it easier for everyone.

Brian Zimmerman:

Yeah, you could be able to offer financial options for the entire spectrum of patients’ financial pictures, and also the clinical spectrum, some folks need a lot of care. And to be able to do that with one option versus, like you said, having three various partners that your staff has to navigate that landscape. A one-stop shop, you put it pretty succinctly there. Amy, anything you would add to what you’ve heard from Ryan and Tim?

Amy Eveland:

I agree with them both as far as the ease of service and speed and just not having to ask what’s your credit score to know which lending service you’re going to use, it’s just an uncomfortable question to have to ask. But it’s also just knowing and being able to tell your patient that it’s not a hard credit check, let’s just see what you can do, what you get and then we can go from there. And soon as they hear that, they’re like, “Oh, okay, let’s do it. There’s no hard credit check.” Even if they’re on the fence, they’re not quite sure, they’ve been working on their credit but they don’t know exactly what it is right now, the last thing they want is a hard credit check if they’re working on their credit and trying to get it better. So it’s nice to be able to tell them that, it just makes them feel more comfortable in looking into it and see what options they have.

Brian Zimmerman:

Yeah. And Amy, I imagine too that, as we’ve discussed here, but that feature of someone being able to say, “Hey, it’s not a hard credit check,” in the simplicity of the platform as Jay sort of illustrated with that demo, makes the staff education training component of this a lot easier. But I do want to talk a little bit more about that, Amy, can you share how your organization approaches education, empowering staff to have those conversations with patients around education, around payment options?

Amy Eveland:

Just as far as the staff goes, just the training that Sunbit offered and ways that they could handle the patients, what you can offer them. As far as the no credit check, that’s very appealing to the staff because the job itself and doing financial coordinating, it’s very stressful for them because in the past it’s been low approval. So being able to give patients this good news, “Hey, it’s no hard credit check. You can pick your payment that you want each month.” It’s more pleasant for the staff, and they’re excited to talk to the patients to show them what we can help them with. You can get your treatment done, we don’t have to struggle with, how to pay, call your mom, can you borrow from your mom? We’ve had those conversations and it’s just not that difficult any longer. And as far as being able to educate the patient, we’re worried more about educating them on their dental treatment now. We want them to understand what they’re getting done and it’s just not stressful about the financial part anymore, our focus is on dental treatment right now.

Brian Zimmerman:

Yeah. I mean, it’s got to be, perhaps I imagine too, a morale booster for staff not to have patients walk out the door after and not be able to afford care. I can imagine that can be pretty demoralizing for folks.

Amy Eveland:

Oh, yes. It’s hard to watch them leave the office knowing that they can’t get that work done or they have to get the extraction because that’s the lower amount. And it is very rewarding as a staff member to be able to help patients. And 90% of them, yes, it’s very rewarding for us as a dental profession.

Brian Zimmerman:

Yeah. Thank you, Amy. Ryan, is it similar for you now, as far as when you think about patient education, is it a little bit more of a focus on the clinical care versus less time spent on really navigating the financial elements?

Ryan Heroy:

I think so. I think Amy hit it right on the head. For us, I guess I’ve never thought about that. But now I definitely noticed that there’s a lot more focus on the clinical side, the doctors are happier because we’re seeing those approval ratings before. Usually our doctors kind of say, “Oh, I don’t want to talk about financing,” but now with Sunbit I see them more and more talking about it because the approval rating’s there, it makes a lot of sense too. And we try to, the psychology around financing, there is this stigma around financing like Amy mentioned. So we try to talk about payment assistance instead of financing and really let the patients know up upfront that there are 90% getting approved with this new program that we have as well. So focusing more on the clinical side of it and what we should be focusing on as dentists and dental providers makes it so much easier for us too. So we’re just happy to be a part of that and have this platform for us to help service our patients.

Brian Zimmerman:

Yeah. It sounds like that when you are focusing on those financial conversations about being clear that this is an easy process and trying to de-stress, because folks might come in thinking they might be a little bit nervous about if, as soon as you approach how you’re going to pay for it, they might be really nervous. But sounds like you’re empowering staff to let folks know, “Hey, this is not going to be… This is a 90% approval.”

Ryan Heroy:

Yes, it’s not a used car salesman type… I mean, anytime you think of financing you always think of cars and getting finance for cars or used car salesman, and it’s not that approach anymore, it’s just a breath of fresh air.

Brian Zimmerman:

Yeah, excellent. Thank you, Ryan. Tim, would you have anything to add here on how you think about really educating patients on their financial options and financial payments?

Tim Tursonoff:

Yeah. For us, it’s definitely a matter of it being a team approach. And our offices, where the entire team is very much educated on Sunbit and where folks in different roles in the offices are working with patients on getting the applications in and getting them approved, that’s where we see the most success. Not only the office managers, not only treatment coordinators, but also lead assistants, also hygienists, they play a big part. When everybody is on the same page, it just makes a big difference. And Sunbit makes it easy. There’s an iPad. We have promotional brochures throughout the office. We have obviously information on our website as well. So even the call center folks, when they talk to new patients, they do bring it up. They do mention it. If the patient is interested in learning more, we actually will send them a link. And again, but everybody in the office needs to be on the same page. I can clearly tell you which of my offices are in that category where it’s everybody and which are in the other category where it’s only the office manager and maybe one other person.

Brian Zimmerman:

Yeah, that’s probably helpful for folks watching this too, is just make sure everyone’s on the same page and it’s going to make things a lot more streamlined across the organization. Thank you, Tim. Jay, I want to give you the floor now to talk about anything you’ve heard here from Amy, Tim and Ryan. And then I’ve got a question I want to ask you after you add any hook ons.

Jay Letwat:

Sure. First of all, Tim, Amy and Ryan are great partners of ours and it’s just really gratifying on a personal level, also a professional level just to hear how we’ve positively affected their practices. I always tell people kind of facetiously, we’re not brain surgeons, we’re not saving lives, but what we are doing is trying to make it easier for folks to get the dentistry that they need. So everyone who walks in that dental office door, I know that eight and a half to nine out of 10 of those folks are going to get an offer. And for me, that is what’s really gratifying, and it’s really great to hear the comments that Ryan, Amy and Tim have made.

Brian Zimmerman:

Excellent. And Jay, my question for you then is, what’s next for patient financial solutions? How will this space do you imagine will continue to evolve to better support patients and providers?

Jay Letwat:

Well, I think a lot has changed. I mean, if you look at the market overall, the patient financing market has basically had a lack of innovation for the past 30 years. Patient financing kind of started in the early ’90s and basically there is that 10,000 pound gorilla and they have been dominant for a long, long time serving prime customers. But I think a lot has changed in terms of technology.

So typically where do you see the innovation in technology? You see it from younger startup companies. I was talking to a friend of mine who’s in the cruise ship industry and he was telling me last week that it takes a full size cruise ship 16 minutes to make a 90 degree turn, 16 minutes. I mean think about what we do in our lives in 16 minutes, that’s a lot of time. And particularly today, as Tim was saying, in kind of this instant gratification world we live in. So 16 minutes to make a right turn is an eternity. In technology, it should take you five to 10 seconds. So that’s why young startup companies, even companies like Uber, Tesla, Airbnb have kind of changed industries and now they’re the market leader, because they started small, saw something that was broken, fixed it, and then moved quickly, whereas the large companies, they just simply can’t do that. When you’re 10,000 or 15,000 employees, I mean, you just can’t move that quickly. That’s the bottom line.

Jay Letwat:

And I think another reason is, if you look, financial technology, so much has changed the past three to five years. So if you look at companies like Chime, like Venmo, so either these online neobanks or these applications, there are more people, Brian, that open up accounts at Venmo and Chime on an annual basis than they do at Bank of America, Chase and Wells Fargo combined. So the market is totally changed. FinTech is completely reshaped things. And you’re going to continue to see solutions that are quicker, easier, and better. And we think that, I’m biased obviously, but we think that Sunbit is one of them and we think we’re going to be one of the leaders in the patient financing realm very soon.

Brian Zimmerman:

Thank you, Jay. Yeah, it does sound like a big transformation has already occurred and continues to be under underway. I appreciate that. I want to turn now to welcome each panelist to either build on something Jay just said or share something that they didn’t get to speak to during our time together, before we sign off. Tim, we can start with you. Any closing thoughts, anything you didn’t get a chance to say that you want to say?

Tim Tursonoff:

Sure. Again, I talked about it a couple times, but making sure that everybody in the organization understands why patient financing is important. What are the advantages, not only to us as the service provider, but also to the patient, I think that’s super important.

A few years ago during the Medicaid expansion push by the previous administration, there was a lot of talk about access to care. Well, access to care means different things to different people. What Jay’s company is doing, that’s also access to care, access to care doesn’t have to be all about Medicaid, right? And we certainly view it that way. If we are increasing the access to care for a certain sliver of the population that previously weren’t able to receive it, that’s wonderful. That’s the way I look at it.

And the last thing I’d like to say is, from the overall business perspective, patients, at least in our world, most of the patients that use patient financing, or at least half of them, are indeed fee for service patients. If we are not able to take care of these fee for service patients, what are the alternatives? The alternatives are obviously to bring more insured patients, PPO or God forbid, HMO patients. And fee schedules, I mean, you can’t even compare it. I mean, you are automatically leaving somewhere between 35 and 65% on the table just on a fee schedule differential. And from my standpoint, those are not very attractive numbers. So we choose to take care of our fee for service patients every time, whatever it takes.

Brian Zimmerman:

Thank you, Tim. Again, appreciate you being here today. Amy, turning to you now for any closing remarks or thoughts you have.

Amy Eveland:

Just something I didn’t get to add. I know I mentioned the speed of service and the rewarding part that staff get by dealing with patients. I just want to add how Sunbit gets involved in the staff rewards. They play games with the staff. As far as the training, the staff is all about their pizza lunches, when they do so much… It engages the staff into offering Sunbit to patients, not to, don’t forget about it, it’s not just seeing what they can pay today. It’s very interactive and no other company does that with our staff, maybe with your own staff, but they’re reaching out to our people. And it’s just rewarding to know that they have our back as far as patient care and just the staff engagement is just, it’s wonderful.

And then with patients, it’s just so much easier technology technologically wise, anyway. Everybody wants to do work on their cell phones. So now we have QR codes that leads you right to their qualifications link. They can do their purchase right then and there as well. They can do it themselves. It’s much easier for them. They can be sitting in their recliner and see how they can get their treatment done. It’s just so simple. And that’s the innovative part for me that we’ve never had in the past. And it’s just, again, easy on our staff. When we get that email saying this patient did their application and they get so much money and then we can call them, let’s get your appointment scheduled, let’s get the whole series done and we can get you healthy. So it’s just our concentration is on the patient and how we can spend more time with them to make sure that they’re healthy, that’s our goal. Sunbit just makes it way more easier for them to get it done and for us to help them. So shout out to Sunbit, we love them. Awesome-

Brian Zimmerman:

Thank you so much, Amy.

Amy Eveland:

If I can add, we’ve only been with them for less than seven months. And one of my favorite reports on the dashboard is the subprime approvals. And we’ve been able to help 165 patients that were subprime that we would’ve never been able to help that many in the past, in less than seven months. And the revenue from that was $252,000, I believe. That’s just income that the business wouldn’t have gotten and treatment that patients wouldn’t have been able to receive. So the way they’ve helped us and the patients is just amazing.

Brian Zimmerman:

I really appreciate you sharing your experience and those specific numbers. I mean, I think that really paints a picture. Thank you, Amy. Ryan, final thoughts from you?

Ryan Heroy:

Yeah, yeah. Amy hit it right on the head too. I was about to go into the provider dashboard too. I think with Sunbit being such a tech company, it allows us to really drill down and be very specific office by office, even user by user. That was something that other financing companies didn’t offer. So we can see user by user how well the users are performing, also the offices are performing. With any big organizational change, and especially with us using other vendors for 10, 15 years, those changes are difficult.

So sometimes offices are hesitant to make that change over to a new tech-based financing company, and we’re able to see that and trend it out, and actually Sunbit’s team will go out there and help train that staff if they are having some resistance too. So I think overall, Sunbit’s been a great partner for us. We’re very tech savvy on our end and any type of tech and approval aside, and I think it’s a great option for anybody looking for a financing company that’s state of the art on that side of it too. But we’re so happy to have Sunbit and be able to treat our patients the way that they should be treated, regardless of their FICO score. What does that really mean on that side of it too? So patients are patients and people deserve to be treated regardless of their financial standing.

Brian Zimmerman:

Appreciate that, Ryan. Thank you so much for being here. Jay, we are at time, but of course want to give you some space for any final words.

Jay Letwat:

Sure. I just wanted to thank Ryan, Amy and Tim, great people, great partners. And thanks for your time coming on. If anyone out there would like to learn a little bit more about Sunbit’s patient financing solution, you can go to sunbit.com/dental and we will get you taken care of. But thank you very much, Brian. I appreciate you having me on the podcast.

Brian Zimmerman:

Absolutely. Thank you, Jay, for being here. Amy, Ryan and Tim, thank you so much for taking the time. It was an excellent conversation. Thank you to Sunbit as well for sponsoring today’s webinar. To learn more about the content presented today, please check out the resources section on your webinar consult and fill out the post-webinar survey. Thank you for joining us. Hope you have a wonderful afternoon.

Tim Tursonoff:

Thank you.

Jay Letwat:

Thank you.

Amy Eveland:

Thank you.

Ryan Heroy:

Thank you.

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