Sunbit Webinar – Upgrading Dental Patient Financing: The New Path to High Treatment Plan Acceptance
Legacy patient financing solutions have left many dental practices settling for bulky application processes, low patient approval rates and waterfall products that compromise the patient experience and the practice’s revenue.
At a November webinar sponsored by Sunbit, Adrian Valente, director of training at Sunbit, facilitated a discussion with dental practice leaders about new solutions for patient financing. The panelists were:
- Kathryn Alderman, DDS, CEO and Founder of Nebraska Family Dentistry in Lincoln, Nebraska and Progressive Dental Mentor
- Pedram Bina, DDS, CEO of PhD Dental in Los Angeles, California
- Dee Fischer, CEO of Fischer Professional Group
- Jay Letwat, VP of Dental, Sunbit
- Raphael R. Putrus, DMD, Founder and CEO of All About Orthodontics in Detroit, Michigan
Four key takeaways were:
- Innovative financing can transform treatment acceptance and revenue growth. Patient financing is integral to removing barriers to dental treatment. Most patients do not have the ability to pay up front, but traditional financing options are frequently cumbersome and structured in a way that patients too frequently default, leading to losses for dental offices.
Patients need financing that fits within their monthly budget, while dental offices need more affordable options to present to patients that increase conversion and mitigate losses.
Shifting from traditional financing options to modern, technology-based third-party financing fulfills those needs. For example, traditional financing systems require a time-intensive application, while a more innovative financing solution powered by Sunbit only requires patients’ state-issued driver’s license or identification card, phone number, and email address to submit an application. The 30-second application process is much faster and has a higher acceptance rate (85 percent), increasing the number of patients able to get the care they need. “Unfortunately, there are a lot of patients who cannot pay their copay or pay for needed treatments,” Dr. Alderman said. “Offering Sunbit to every patient helps . . . we do it for every patient, every time.”
- Communication plays an important role in conversion. While access to improved financing options is important, there is another component that impacts conversion rates: communication.
Financial matters can be difficult to discuss, for both practice office managers and patients. The perception around offering and being offered financing can create discomfort that leads to unproductive conversations. Conversations about financial matters are often avoided even though approximately 56 percent of U.S. adults do not have $1,000 in their checking account.1
Talking about the payment options with every patient is critical to the case acceptance cycle. Dr. Alderman says dental teams should offer patient financing to every patient, not just based on perceived need or when the patient says they can’t move forward with treatment due to cost.
It’s also important to take the time to learn patients’ goals and how the dental team can help them achieve those goals. When a patient is approached about financing care, it is less effective than when dental practices demonstrate how such solutions can help a patient make progress toward what they are trying to achieve. “We don’t teach patient finance,” Ms. Dee Fischer, said. “We teach . . . patient progress. If we can have patient progress with financing, we’re going to have case conversion.”
- Third-party financing eases staff burden. By working with a third-party financer, the burden on practice staff is reduced. When using technologies such as Sunbit, some initial assistance in helping an individual sign up and get approved may be needed, but subsequent monthly payments and collections are handled automatically. This not only improves account receivables, but also reduces employee time devoted to financing matters.
Further alleviating the staff burden is when practices offer one financing solution that approves most patients, therefore building confidence among team members and negating the need for awkward conversations that come with application denials.
Removing work for staff to set up and offer financing improves employee satisfaction and productivity. By incorporating financing solutions directly into intake systems, the process is more efficient for staff and patients. And Sunbit’s Sunbeast program rewards staff for their engagement, further supporting retention. “[Financing] should just be part of the system, where everyone that comes through the door, whether they’re interested or not, you offer it to them. The first step is offering. If you don’t offer it, there’s no way they’re going to say yes,” Dr. Putrus said.
- Increased revenue counters financing fees. Some dentists are concerned that the fees charged by third-party financing companies will cut into revenue and render a treatment less profitable. Although this might be a reasonable concern for practices with waitlists and patients who pay in full, most practices do not fit that profile. Offering financing can increase revenue by filling more appointments and providing more treatments. “If we can add 10 or 20 percent more patients to your top line, how does that impact your bottom line?” Mr. Letwat asked.
Dentistry costs money, and lack of financing can be a major impediment to receiving treatment. Innovative financing technology systems, such as Sunbit, can help patients access the dentistry they need and pay for their treatment. “A large subset of our patients don’t get access to traditional lending. Sunbit provides them with something they would not have access to otherwise. It’s been a great asset and tool in our practice,” Dr. Bina said.
Loans are made by Transportation Alliance Bank, Inc., dba TAB Bank, which determines qualifications for and terms of credit.