Solo Practitioner Seeks to Eliminate Restrictions on Patients
Membership plans from Kleer help Cooper ease financial limitations
Jerry Cooper, DDS, worked for a group practice in his hometown of Des Moines, Iowa, for 17 years before going into practice for himself. He wanted to make his own decisions about patient care. Today, Cooper's solo practice in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, is the realization of that vision. With the help of two hygienists, two assistants, and one office manager, he provides the kind of care that he wants his patients to have.
"Having worked for someone who owned a number of offices, I envisioned my own practice as a place where I would be able to develop a wide skill set and offer solutions to almost any dental problem that my patients presented with," Cooper says. "The philosophy I have is to offer my patients the care that they need, as opposed to just performing the procedures that I prefer."
Cooper takes a focused approach to his continuing education. For each conference he attends, he identifies specific skills that he wants to learn or improve on, and those areas become his primary focus for the meeting. In this way, he has been able to build his skill set to keep as much work as possible in-house for his patients' benefit.
When the time comes to apply that growing skill set, he wants his patients to be able to make the best treatment decisions with minimal restrictions. One of the most common and pervasive restrictions patients face is their finances, and Cooper's frustration began building up after a series of challenging insurance situations.
"Although we are not members of any insurance plans, we do accept insurance, and we were continually finding that we were confined by the limits of our patients' benefits," he says. "We were running into some things that I considered ridiculous."
One particular experience finally drove Cooper to take action. A patient needed two anterior implants due to internal resorption, and the insurance company paid the surgeon for the extraction but haggled over the implant placement because of verbiage in the plan.
"It feels like borderline fraud for an insurance provider to represent to people that they have coverage and are protected by the calendar-year maximums but still restrict them in other ways," he says. "Little things like that made us realize that we needed something that would help us avoid dealing with insurance as frequently. We had read about membership plans in the journals and thought they made a lot of sense, so we contacted Kleer."
Kleer is an advanced cloud-based platform that offers membership plans for dentists to, in turn, offer directly to their patients. Participating patients pay a subscription fee directly to the practice, which covers preventive care and provides discounts for other necessary treatments. The plans eliminate the cost and hassle of an insurance middleman, enabling patients to get the oral care they need at an affordable price while also enabling dentists to run a successful, profitable practice. The plans are turnkey and free to implement.
"With Kleer, we have control over how our membership plans are structured, and our business has a predictable revenue stream," Cooper says. "We have had a great experience with it."
The turnkey element allows his office manager to focus on explaining the benefits of membership plans to patients rather than devoting extensive time to administering them.
"We are a small office, so we are not able to tie up our employees with handling renewals, etc," Cooper says. "Kleer handles everything so we can focus on our mission, and regardless of whether patients need extensive treatment or not, when the numbers are laid out in front of them, it is a no-brainer that the membership plans pay for themselves."
Cooper first implemented Kleer membership plans last July, and he had more than 150 members within approximately 8 months. Some were patients of record, and others were new patients.
"Even for those who would have come in anyway," he says, "it has helped because they do not need to consider delaying x-rays, treatment, or maintenance visits. That conversation is eliminated because necessary procedures are included in the membership plans. For patients who require more extensive work, we do not need to spread it out over multiple years in order to maximize their insurance benefits; we can create the ideal treatment plan and simply apply the discounts associated with being a member. It is simple, and we are able to treat patients the way we believe is right."
With Kleer membership plans in place, Cooper can provide the type of dentistry that he has always wanted to offer at his practice.
"It is one more thing I can control," he says, "which helps me provide the best possible care."
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