The technological advances in dentistry have provided dentists with new ways of caring for their patients with more effective and less painful procedures. Even in the last decade, the advances have been impressive.
Some of the focus has been on cosmetic procedures, which many patients are considering beyond the normal cleanings and occasional maintenance issues that crop up. However, given the tight economy, many consumers are bypassing the procedures they want (and some that they need). Dental practices are also feeling the pinch and have watched profits drop as consumers hold on to their money.
The top reason for avoiding the dentist is fear. Despite advances made in the procedures, there is still a little pain and a lot of noise that goes with visiting the office, which causes anxiety in many patients. Cost and time issues are the other most common reasons given for avoiding the dentist.
By some accounts, less than 25 percent of Americans can pay out of pocket for procedures costing $500 or more. For consumers that count on credit cards for unexpected costs, most only have $400 or less on their cards. When it comes to dental procedures that can’t be ignored, the patient has to count on the dental practice setting up a payment plan. This poses accounts receivables risks for the practice.
Finance experts advise dental practices not to get into the banking business, which is what they are essentially doing when they offer credit to patients. This eats into the profits of the practice and puts a large workload on employees to manage the paperwork and stay in contact with patients who owe large amounts.
A better option is to partner with third-party financing organizations to absorb the financial responsibility and the work associated with communicating with patients to work out a payment schedule. A third-party financing group opens up new windows of opportunities to the patient and can increase the volume of customers coming through the door.
The third party financing allows patients to get major work done, work that they never thought possible before. Payment plans are typically short-term with the average being between six and 12 months. Some third party financing companies will offer lower interests to accounts that pay off their balance sooner than required.