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Inside Dentistry
March 2019
Volume 15, Issue 3

Kleer’s Growth Continues to Accelerate

Dentists and patients overwhelmingly embracing membership plans

The chief executive officer of Kleer, Dave Monahan, expected his company's membership plans to grow rapidly following their public launch in January 2018. The pace of that growth, however, has actually exceeded his lofty expectations.

"We projected an aggressive growth curve, but we are already 50% above that prediction," Monahan says. "Nearly every dental practice is understanding the value of a membership plan."

Kleer's membership plans are dental care plans that practices can offer directly to patients. Plan participants pay a subscription fee directly to the practice, and their membership covers the cost of preventive care and provides discounted rates for other treatments.

According to Monahan, the driving force behind Kleer's overwhelming growth is the decline of insurance reimbursements, which are projected to continue to decline at an even faster rate. However, the core reason why the plan works is much simpler.

"It is what patients are looking for," Monahan says. "We saw this in our research when we conducted focus groups and interviews with uninsured patients. They wanted dental coverage and more oral care, but they felt like they were on the outside looking in because they did not have dental insurance. They avoided treatment because they felt exposed. Our membership plans address that need. We designed Kleer to be simple, transparent, and affordable."

For dental practices, the plans are easy to manage. Many of the practices that now offer Kleer plans previously tried to implement their own homegrown, mostly paper-based membership systems before finding them too difficult to manage once they had acquired 40 to 50 members.

Thanks to this, Kleer is already past the "innovators" and "early adopters" phases of the technology adoption life cycle.

"We are getting inquiries from as many as 50% of the dentists who practice in certain areas," Monahan says. "It is not surprising to us that we are moving to that next stage of adoption, but it is fun to watch it happen."

In June 2017, Kleer was a two- to three-person operation, but it has expanded to 25 employees and expects to double that number during this year. The company is also moving to a new office.

"Finding enough good people to keep that growth moving in the right direction is what we call a ‘champagne problem,'" Monahan says.

In time, the company expects to expand its focus from serving the uninsured patient population to also serving the insured, collaborating with employers to provide an option that works better than traditional insurance for all patients.

"Employers and employees are not satisfied with dental insurance due to the cost and complexity," Monahan says. "There is an opportunity to meet the needs of those two groups while improving reimbursement and treatment acceptance for dental practices."

For the time being, Monahan finds it gratifying to see his company succeeding at its core mission of providing improved access to oral care.

"Consumers, especially uninsured patients, value oral care in their everyday lives," he says. "Our market research has found that they associate oral care with their overall health and a better quality of life. It is a core piece of their health, and feeling comfortable about having access to it is extremely important to them."

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