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How to attract uninsured patients to join your dental membership program

How to attract uninsured patients to join your dental membership program

There are likely many people in a community that probably do not have dental insurance. There is potential to grow a dental practice and make additional revenue from this target audience that may think they have no oral healthcare option. The uninsured dental market can be very lucrative, causing some dental practices to avoid signing contracts with health insurance companies altogether. The key process of making revenue from uninsured patients is having an effective medical marketing plan. Many dental practices have tapped into their community’s uninsured dental patients to implement a dental membership program. Many programs are organized and run in-office, cutting out fees that a third party usually take. Dental practices across the country that started on have found them to be very successful.  

What is a dental membership program and is included in it?

The concept of a membership program has been something that has been around for years, although mainly in the retail industry. It is like a membership at Costco, Sam’s Club, or Amazon Prime but is tailored for a dental practice. There is a monthly or yearly fee to gain access to treatments, benefits, and savings from a dental practice like those other programs. For example, a family could pay $100 a month or $1000 upfront for additional savings for various benefits at a dental practice. Some benefits that could be included would be:  

  • Two cleanings per person in the family
  • A general dental health exam twice a year for family members
  • X-rays as needed by the dental provider
  • Emergency exams for mishaps or sudden changes in dental health
  • Cancer screenings
  • Discount on any additional treatment or dental appliances like crowns, bridges, etc.
  • Discount off of teeth whitening treatments
  • Discount off of corrective dental appliances, like Invisalign 

What are the benefits for a dental practice to start a dental membership program?

There are a lot of benefits associated with creating and running a dental membership program. However, it only works if a dental practice is actively signing up patients. The staff needs to be on the same page explaining to patients the program’s benefits and how it works. Some of the benefits to a dental practice include:

  • Reliable income-  With a membership program, a dental practice can count on a certain amount of money coming in every month with membership fees. This reliable and predictable income is one of the most important reasons to start a program.
  • Encourage patient loyalty –   Once a patient is invested in a membership program, they are more likely to stay loyal to that practice. When someone spends money on a membership, they will want to get the most out of it. Studies show that subscription members often spend more than those who are not members.  
  • No Third-Party Insurance Companies –  Working directly with patients and their families cuts out all insurance company-related paperwork and submissions. This will save staff time and allow the practice to become more efficient.  

How does a dental practice advertise and create an attractive offer to capture uninsured dental patients in a community?  

Once a dental practice has established a dental membership program, it needs to start marketing it to the community. Below are some things to consider and tactics to use when creating a medical marketing plan to promote a dental membership program.

What is the target audience of a dental membership program?

The target audience of a dental membership program is varied, and it can depend on the community a dental practice is operating in. Some of the most likely target audiences include:

Retirees: Those on a limited income may not be able to afford their current dental insurance or need dental treatments that their current insurance provides poor coverage for. A dental membership program may be an attractive way to supplement their current dental health insurance.

Small Business Owners – Many businesses offer insurance to their employees as a perk to attract quality employees. A dental membership program may be a cost-effective alternative to signing a contract for a company-wide dental insurance program. Dealing directly with a dental practice will allow them to customize their coverage to meet the needs of their workers.  

Young Families: Young families starting in life may also be living on a limited budget and can not afford dental health insurance for the whole family. Rather than deferring dental treatment for the family, which could lead to more expensive problems down the road, a dental membership program could be a practical alternative for them.  

Many dental practices offer a deal for first-time sign-ups when appealing to these target audiences. These special promotions could include:

  • Discounts for paying a full year upfront
  • A unique gift, like a teeth whitening kit
  • After signing up a certain number of people in a business, some others can be added for free
  • A referral bonus if someone refers someone else to the program

Also, a dental practice would be wise to offer a facility tour to new members. This can be particularly effective with business owners looking for a location where their employees will be treated well. Introduce them to the staff and providers who will assist them and brief them on the treatments and services offered. This personal touch can go a long way to signing up a new member to a dental membership program. Some dental practices run “Open Houses” to the community to invite people and community leaders to better understand the benefits of a dental membership program. 

How can search engine optimization help a dental practice grow its dental membership program?

Regardless of whether a patient does or does not have dental insurance, they will often begin their dental healthcare search using a search engine, like Google. While a search engine will return millions of pages of results, the vast majority of users will only look at the first page or top 10 organic results in search engine returns. A dental practice must appear in those organic results, preferably in the top three results. The best way to do that is to use search engine optimization or SEO.  

Those looking for a dental practice that accepts patients without insurance or is looking specifically for a dental membership program will be searching using precise search terms. If a dental practice can identify those terms, they can then insert those keywords throughout their content to have their practice appear in search results. A potential patient may not even be aware of a dental membership program, so finding them and educating them about the benefits of a program is a top priority.  

When selecting keywords to promote a dental membership program using SEO, it is best to use short-tail and long-tail keywords. Using both keywords will enable a dental practice to reach a larger target audience for its membership program. Short-tail keywords are three words or less, drive a lot of traffic to a website, and have low conversion rates. Short-tail keywords generally cover broad topics. On the other hand, long-tail keywords focus on unique or narrow topics. They generate lower traffic, have higher conversion rates, and are four words or more. Long-tail keywords also play a role in voice search as people tend to ask personal digital assistants and smart speaker questions that are four words or longer.  

How can a dental practice use text messages to help get new members to its dental membership program?  

Text messaging is one of the most popular ways to communicate with others, including businesses. However, unlike most other companies, a dental practice must keep HIPAA privacy rules in consideration for all communications. It is responsible for any data sent to it, even if it did not specifically ask for private health information. A patient can not text a regular cell phone maintained by a dental practice and have it be considered HIPAA compliant. However, it can still make texting available to patients if done correctly.

Texts sent to a dental practice can be sent to a HIPAA-compliant dashboard, allowing for two-way texting to take place without violating any rules. From a dashboard, texts can be stored, audited, and access can be limited, meeting HIPAA privacy rules. Texting can be a great way to answer simple questions about the dental membership program and send patients information on signing up. Many people prefer texting over phone calls, so this is another way to reach a target audience!  

How can a medical engagement chatbot help a dental practice get uninsured patients to join a dental membership program?

Patients will always have questions about services, policies, or how to accomplish tasks on a dental practice’s website, no matter how well written it may be. These questions and help requests, often made via email or phone, are the responsibility of the front desk staff. These requests can pile up during some parts of the year or during times of high patient volume. Also, when the practice is closed for the day or during holidays, they are not there to help, causing a further backlog in help requests. If delays increase, a potential patient may begin to look at competitors. A great way to solve some of these issues is to use a medical engagement chatbot.

Already widely used in the retail industry, a medical engagement chatbot is a program with prewritten questions and answers that a website visitor can engage with to help them accomplish tasks and find information. All questions and answers are written by the dental practice and can be updated as needed. The front desk staff often answers many of the same questions throughout the day. The goal of a chatbot is to take some of those off their hands and answer them online. One of the best things about a chatbot is that it is always available. It can answer questions after hours or on holidays. For any question it can not answer, it will take a website visitor’s contact information and question and then store it on a HIPAA compliant server for a staff member to address.  

A chatbot can be a great way to introduce the concept of a dental membership programs to an uninsured patient. It can provide some quick key points and then a link to the page with more information. If a dental practice specializes in uninsured patients, a chatbot can lead with that statement. If the benefits or services change in a dental membership program or if a special promotion is available, a chatbot can be quickly updated to provide that information to site visitors. It can also easily direct patients to other services and health protocols, like COVID-19 safety procedures at the dental practice.  

How can direct mail marketing help grow a dental membership program?  

While digital marketing strategies dominate medical marketing plans, some traditional or offline marketing strategies can still be effective. Direct mail marketing has proven to be successful when trying to establish a dental membership program. Unlike ads that may run on radio, TV, or in newspapers, direct mail marketing has targeting capabilities. A dental practice can determine where its marketing materials are going and neighborhoods. Depending on the volume of mail sent out, special discounts and tools may be available from the United States Postal Service.

Often, direct mail marketing is best used to reach people who may have slipped through other digital marketing campaigns. They can be particularly effective when marketing to older patients who may not spend as much time online. Sending marketing materials to a 55 or older community can bring surprisingly good results. These materials would also be effective if mailed to families who do not have dental insurance and are unaware of a dental membership program. Without prior knowledge, they likely wouldn’t be searching online in the first place. Direct mail marketing continues to be an effective option to reach these target audiences for a membership program.

Every direct mail marketing campaign’s goal is to be stuck on a corkboard or fridge of a household and not into a recycling bin. Although mail volume has fallen over the last decade, the effort still needs to be made to stand out among the other pieces of mail a household will receive every day. A practice should try different colors, sizes, and even paper textures until they find a combination that works for them. All mail pieces should also have the following:

  • Name of the dental practice
  • The offer of a dental membership program
  • The cost of membership
  • Phone number
  • Site URL
  • Address of a dental practice, including suite or office numbers
  • Hours of operation

The experts at have helped many dental practices promote their dental membership programs. Contact us today and let our team begin to work for you to help you meet your goals! We look forward to working with you!  

How to attract uninsured patients to join your dental membership program
How to attract uninsured patients to join your dental membership program