21st Century Dentistry: The Changing Role of Patient Financing

Most dental providers recognize the benefit of offering patients a comprehensive financing program. It’s well-established that patient financing programs can lead to increased acceptance of care, better patient outcomes, greater patient loyalty, and less administrative work for the staff.

While most providers traditionally think of patient financing as a convenience for their patients, progressive practices are realizing they can use these programs as a way to adapt to consumers’ changing behavior in the healthcare market.

Patient financing

Providing innovative solutions for dental professionals has always been part of Henry Schein’s heritage, and our partnership with the Citi Health Card is an extension of that commitment.

Why is consumer behavior changing? First, rising premiums and deductibles represent a bigger share of household budgets today. There’s new research that shows that as a result of the increase in costs, consumers are changing how they function within the healthcare system – and this includes dental providers. They are questioning their providers’ recommendations, researching costs and reviews of other providers, and even putting off care altogether.

This shift away from absolute trust in the provider and the course of treatment is a relatively new phenomenon. Americans increasingly view themselves as consumers of healthcare rather than patients, and it’s directly related to an increase in out-of-pocket payments. Consumers get more involved and critical of their choices when they can see where their money is going. According to the report “Critical Trends Affecting the Future of Dentistry” by Diringer and Associates, prepared for the ADA, out-of-pocket payments constitute 42 percent of dental expenditures, compared to only 11 percent of health expenditures.

What it means for you. This combination of higher out-of-pocket payments and savvy consumers means your practice needs to be more responsive to patients’ payment needs. That’s why it’s important to be forward-thinking when it comes to patient financing.

Patients want to know why a procedure is necessary, what it will cost, and see transparent information about how they can pay for it. A good patient financing program like the Citi Health Card puts payment options in clear terms and gives patients concrete numbers to budget around. You have a significant opportunity to capture their business for the long term by integrating patient financing into the core of your practice model.

A quick look at some of the Citi Health Card’s key patient benefits makes it clear.

  • Manageable monthly payment plans, including deferred interest options. Patients can see what their monthly costs will be up front. And they can take advantage of deferred interest financing options similar to what they’re used to seeing at retailers.
  • No pre-payment penalties. This is important for patients who like to spread out their payments, but don’t necessarily need the whole term. It also adds another element of control to the patient relationship, letting them choose how fast they’d like to pay off their balance.
  • The account can be used for all family members. This is a useful, but underappreciated feature that can bring more patients into your practice and build loyalty.

It’s easy to see that a robust patient financing program is an ideal way to adapt to patients’ changing views. If a patient wants to shop around for care, make sure your practice is positioned to compete on every level – service, treatment and payment options. This can mean refining your practice model. While many variables determine your practice’s productivity and sustainability, patient financing with the Citi Health Card can help improve some of the most important factors.

The Citi Health Card program requires less time, is less costly, and has significantly lower risk versus offering payment options on your own. Your focus can stay on care, not on collections.

  • Seamless integration with Dentrix® practice management software offers a one-click patient financing solution. No other patient financing program offers full Dentrix integration.
  • No enrollment fees and low Merchant Fees (MDRs)
  • Increased cash flow – receive settlement within 2–3 business days
  • Training and support from Citi
  • No minimum volume requirements and no additional equipment to purchase

How you put patient financing to work for your practice is only limited by your imagination. You also have an opportunity to save money directly by offering the Citi Health Card. Based on a comparison of merchant fees, as of December 2013, the Citi Health Card fees are lower than the industry average. In fact, preferred Henry Schein Merchant Discount Rates start as low as 3.99%.

By offering your patients diverse and adaptable financing options, you can stay ahead of the curve and put your practice in a position of strength in this consumer-driven environment. You could even increase treatment acceptance and elective procedures in the face of growing out-of-pocket patient expenses. A good financing program like the Citi Health Card gives you a solution that meets the changing needs of your patients and your practice.

Call 1-800-443-2756, Option 1 or visit www.henryschein.com/hsfs to get started with the Citi Health Card Program today.

Originally published in Sidekick Magazine