The new wave of patient finance facilities recently hitting the market are already making a positive impact on cash flow and case acceptance in dental practices around Australia.
"Many of the practices who have signed up for SmileCard since it's launch at the Adelaide congress earlier this year are reporting great results," said SmileCard founder Carl Burroughs. "The facility is allowing patients to proceed with treatments that they would have normally put off or not gone ahead with at all."
According to Mr Burroughs, many practices around Australia have already added the SmileCard facility to their practice payment options, with some great success stories following.
"We met with SmileCard on the Wednesday and agreed to use the facility and we had a patient coming in on the Thursday who we knew that finance was an issue, so we put them through SmileCard," said Dr Yannopoulos of The Brunswick Dental Group in Melbourne. "They approved the patient straight away, treatment was performed and we got paid on the Friday. It was so easy! Since then we have had a lot of interest in SmileCard and patients think it's a great option."
Dr George Selia of GS Dental Centre in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs has also had a similar experience. "About 25 years ago, Dick Barnes, Dental marketing guru from the US, taught me how to present treatment plans so that the patients accepted nearly every time. When patients did not go ahead, the problem was always 'money'. Dick would then say to the patient... 'If the money was not the issue, would you have this treatment done..?'. In my experience the answer was always YES. He also told us that dentists are not banks so we should not provide loans to patients, they should find their own source of funds.
"Today, consumers buy just about everything on a buy-now pay-later scheme, so the new service from SmileCard is the ideal system for 'smile now, pay later'. When I heard about SmileCard I became excited because it is what I always wanted to have as a service in my practice. I can provide the best dental services to my patients but I can't lend them money. SmileCard can. I signed up immediately with SmileCard and put them to the test. My first case was for over $10,000.The application was handled very courteously between my staff, the staff at SmileCard and the patient. The loan was approved in minutes and the money EFT'd to my bank.
"My staff and I are very excited at the prospect of limitless case acceptance. I have already inserted full page ads in the local press to advertise SmileCard at my own expense. To me it is a hassle free financial service that will give us dentists freedom to do all our good work that we recommend without having to compromise quality and longevity of treatment due to lack of money. Like my first case, Scoty, said 'Now I can have the smile I always wanted for just a few dollars per week'. It will revolutionise my practice."
Mr Burroughs said that dozens of other practices around the country were also benefiting from the facility and realising that there is a real demand for the service.
"In the future, the patient finance you offer will become part of the patient's decision making process when choosing a practice," he said. "A patient finance facility such as SmileCard will certainly attract new patients to a practice but equally as important, it will allow existing patients to proceed with more of the treatments they want. It's just a matter of letting your patients know the options that are open to them.
"If you limit offering the more costly procedures to people who have $5,000 to $25,000 in their savings accounts, you are eliminating most of the population. How many people do you know who pay cash when making a major purchase? The desire to finance is quite normal, especially for larger dollar items and when offered in a professional manner, makes the purchasing decision an easy one.
"As part of the SmileCard network, you and your team will also be trained on the benefits of the facility and how best to explain it to your patients. It can sometimes be a little daunting to introduce a new product or service into the practice so we have a full support structure in place to assist."
Mr Burroughs said that an emerging market for SmileCard was for financing of outstanding debts with the practice for treatment already completed.
"SmileCard is a great marketing tool to attract new patients to your practice and to increase case acceptance of expensive procedures. However, it can also be offered to patients of the practice who have already had treatment done but are having trouble paying. Practices are finding that if they have outstanding accounts that are months old, these patients are happy to use SmileCard to clear up the debt in a more management way."