Dr. Terri Zweber, DDS graduated from the University of Washington School of Dentistry and is a member of the Academy of General Dentistry. Dr. Zweber founded Cordata Family Dentist in 2009 with the vision of creating a dental practice that provides each patient with quality care.

How to Unlock Hidden Practice Revenue with Dental Membership Plans

Dr. Terri Zweber’s dental practice has a good problem: Too many patients.

“We have three chairs and see 25-30 patients a day,” Dr. Zweber said.

Her practice, Cordata Family Dentist in Bellingham, Washington, is now building a new, larger space to deliver quality dental health to all her happy patients.

Dr. Zweber is eager to expand the practice to promote good oral health. She can afford a new office because her practice recently became more profitable. How? By making the switch to a Dental Membership Plan.

Her practice’s journey is a model for how dentists can better serve their patients while growing the value of their practice.

A Captive of Capitation

For years, Dr. Zweber’s practice was a preferred provider with an insurance company on a capitation plan.

While capitation plans can be great for large dental practices that have time to fill chairs, the math makes less sense for busy, smaller private practices like Dr. Zweber’s.

At Cordata Family Dentist, 85 percent of patients showed up. The cost to treat the patients exceeded what her practice received under the plan, making it a losing proposition for the practice. In 2014, Dr. Zweber decided to try something different and implemented her own Dental Membership Plan as a way to chart her own destiny.

Why Her Own Take on a Dental Membership Plan Didn’t Work

Before Dr. Zweber implemented her Dental Membership Plan, she and her team invested a great deal of time to understand how to structure one under Washington law. They invoked their own ingenuity to study their former capitation plan and used it to gauge copays and reimbursements. Their findings helped them set pricing and service levels for their plan. It took days of work that resulted in a 13-page guide to procedure codes and patient pricing.

And the workload didn’t stop there. To get paid, the practice retained a third-party payment collector. So once patients waded through her practice’s Dental Membership Plan documents, they then had to fill out financial documents. It wasn’t just a one and done process for the practice because the team at Cordata had to rework and update its guide annually.

In 2017, on the cusp of yet another annual review, Dr. Zweber found an easier way to maintain a Dental Membership Plan–one that improved the financial performance of her practice while allowing her team to focus on delivering quality care to her patients.

The Solution Was Obvious, in Fact, It Was Kleer

Then, Dr. Zweber found Kleer, a cloudbased platform that provided everything she needed to easily create and manage a successful Dental Membership Plan.

The automated system did away with tedious paperwork and slashed the time it took her dental office manager to sign up and serve patients.

The easy customizable Dental Membership Plans enabled Dr. Zweber to easily set her own price for a number of different plans. Kleer was flexible, for instance, the practice could decide when to bill — either monthly or annually. It automated the small tasks that had once consumed her team, such as allowing for auto-renewal of patients each year.

Her patients found value in it too. They no longer have to deal with a third-party payment collector. And they can purchase, modify, and communicate online at their own convenience with Dr. Zweber’s team. In short, Dr. Zweber was able to take a complicated process and make it simple, both for her staff and her patients.

Since the implementation of Kleer, dormant patients who wouldn’t normally seek care are beginning routine care at Cordata. Fee for service patients who want more expensive care are now more willing to do so because the Plan offers significant discounts on certain procedures. These days, Cordata Family Dentist’s schedule is always full.

“One unintended consequence has been the referrals. Patients are talking about the Dental Membership Plan to family, friends, and coworkers,” said Dr. Zweber. “We’re seeing interest spread quickly through word of mouth. Even insured patients want to convert.”

Dr. Zweber’s Experience Is not Unique

Dental Membership Plans are now emerging as a highly effective way for patients to receive high quality dental care, and for dentists to build profitable, sustainable practices that have value when time comes to sell or retire. In fact, research shows that Dental Membership Plan patients accept 50 to 100 percent more treatment than the uninsured, are 30 to 50 percent more profitable than insured patients, and create recurring subscription revenue that increases practice valuation.

Of the 97 million people in the U.S. without dental insurance, 40 percent visit a dentist each year. And 89 percent of the insured are interested in buying a Dental Membership Plan1. Recent research from Kleer has found that the number one cause of dormant patients is not that they can’t afford a dental visit. Rather, patients stay away because they feel exposed and stressed, and they don’t know how much treatment is going to cost! Dental Membership Plans take away that fear by sharing with patients exactly what their monthly subscription pays for on each visit to the dentist.

“With Kleer, I’m seeing a lot more patients who wouldn’t normally seek oral care. As dentists, we want to provide as many people as possible with quality dental care and when they can’t afford it, the team feels for them and wants to help. Dental Membership Plans are one way we can help make dentistry more affordable to more patients,” said Dr. Zweber.

And once Cordata Family Dentist’s new offices are ready, the practice will be able to treat even more patients and put even more healthy smiles on their patients faces.