Australasian Dental Practice

Sunday, 14 July, 2024

01 Jul 2006 | Australasian Dental Practice

news > Spectrum > Page 28

Patient finance wins over in-house accounts for busy ortho

Complex financial arrangements have been part and parcel of most orthodontic practices since time immemorial. A combination of the cost of treatment and the length of time of the average procedure lends itself to payment over time, however this often involves complex financial arrangements that can be both time-consuming and laborious to administer.

Class 1 Orthodontics in Perth is a patient-centred orthodontic practice with locations in Rockingham and Canning Vale, as well as a branch practice in the goldfields town of Kalgoorlie. The team concentrates on delivering efficient, predictable treatment to children and adults, mindful of the fact that everyone today lives a very busy life.

Treatment is designed to match the careful diagnosis of the primary complaint and the underlying problem.

"Modern orthodontic treatment can deliver time efficient therapy whilst reducing compliance upon patient cooperation, therefore reducing the need for frequent office visits and avoiding treatment time extension due to poor patient compliance," said principal Dr Chris Orloff, a specialist orthodontist.

"We strive to deliver this care in a friendly, fun environment which is non-confrontational for even the most nervous patient. Our team of 3 hygienists, 2 technicians, chairside and administrative staff are skilled and compassionate."

While Class 1 Orthodontics strives to create a stress-free, caring environment, administering the complex financial arrangements the practice had with its patients was becoming almost counter-productive.

"We had a combination of private payment plans and direct debit plans in the practice and we may have had up to a hundred at any one time to manage," Dr Orloff said. "We literally struggled to cover wages, had huge debts to our supply companies and spent hundreds of hours posting accounts, phoning patients and using debt collectors. It had to stop!

"We were approached by GE Money's CareCredit team and the business case made a lot of sense to us. Essentially, our treatment coordinators now only offer our patients two choices: an up-front discount for full payment in advance; or interest free finance with CareCredit. This has made an amazing difference to our practice. We are no longer the banker so we can concentrate on our core business of providing exceptional orthodontic care."

The practice offers patients with functional appliances a choice of 3- or 6-months interest free and 12-months for any procedure over $1000. This costs the practice a merchant fee of 1, 4.5 or 8% respectively, however given that patients paying upfront receive a discount, it is effectively covered by the non-discounted fee so profitability is unaffected.

"Patients have been very accepting of this new procedure and rarely question it. We had a transition period for anyone already on a plan, but for all new patients, we only offer the choice of payment upfront or CareCredit. The only exception is families who've had kids through the practice before. For those cases, we still offer the direct debit payment plan option."

Dr Orloff said the average case in his practice costs $4500 and treatment is typically delivered over a two-year period.

"A lot of people are now choosing to pay upfront, however, between 8 and 10 a month accept the CareCredit option. Our patients still have the option to pay over time if required, however it is no longer an administrative headache. CareCredit has made an immense difference to our practice and our cash flow and we can now concentrate on providing the best of care."

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