GDPUK took the time to interview Simon Reynolds – Commercial Director of Patient Plan Direct, one of the UK’s fastest growing and most cost effective plan providers, as well as a GDPUK partner.
In the past six months more practices than ever before have opted to work with Patient Plan Direct, either launching a new plan for the first time or transferring an existing base of plan patients from another plan provider. Jonny Jacobs of GDPUK took the time to find out more about Patient Plan Direct’s success:
Jonny GDPUK: Please give us a brief background to how you ended up working in the dental industry?
Simon: “Following my studies in the North West I stuck around the Manchester area and joined Patient Plan Direct’s parent company, First Capital Cashflow, as a business development associate working with both the sales and marketing teams.
“I eventually focused on the marketing side of things and after undertaking a diploma in digital marketing, took up the role of marketing manager at Patient Plan Direct, going on to progress through to my current role as commercial director – managing the business development and marketing teams. I have been involved with Patient Plan Direct for almost five years now, in which time the company has significantly evolved and grown year on year.”
Jonny GDPUK: For those that don’t know of Patient Plan Direct, can you give us a brief potted history?
Simon: “Patient Plan Direct is a dental plan provider similar to the likes of Denplan, Practice Plan and DPAS. The company was formed in 2008 as a subsidiary of our parent company First Capital Cashflow – a long established payments bureau providing payments related services and technology.
“We have embraced technology, cut out a lot of unnecessary paper based administration and benefited from the economies of scale and efficiencies nurtured from our parent company, thus cutting a lot of our own cost bases – resulting in lower fees for our clients!
“Since our inception we’ve sustained our low cost, flat and transparent fee structure of £1 per patient per month (inclusive of VAT and patient Worldwide A&E cover underwritten by Hiscox) whilst other plan providers have marginally increased their administration fees each year.
“Since the company formed, our team has grown and our service delivery and support has evolved in line with market demands. We now work with over 300 practices across the breadth of the UK, helping them to develop, grow and retain a solid base of plan patients.”
Jonny GDPUK: How does Patient Plan Direct differ to other plan providers?
Simon: “Our core proposition is our low cost fee structure, enabling a dental practice to maximise the income and profitability a dental plan generates. It is our ethos to maintain this position in the market, at the same time ensuring we provide first-class training alongside business and marketing support to ensure we can help a practice reach its objectives.
“Our fee structure can easily prove to be 2-3 times more cost effective than other plan providers, enabling a practice with even a modest base of plan patients to easily make significant cost savings year on year in comparison to working with other plan providers. Moreover, we’re very focused on flexibility and branding, offering a fully practice branded solution with the freedom for a practice to determine their own plan offering, structure and price point.
There may be some misconceptions that our service is a no frills / vanilla option when it comes to dental plan administration. However, on the contrary, whilst we don’t offer support in other areas such as CQC guidance, hold annual golf days, invite ‘key’ clients to trips abroad, or hand out ice creams at dental shows, we do invest in our team, processes, technology and support whilst keeping our costs to a minimum and passing these savings on to the many happy practices that work with us."
Jonny GDPUK: What trends are you seeing in the payment plans market?
Simon: “The biggest trend I have noticed for some time now is the lack of appetite from practitioners to either introduce or continue to grow an existing capitation based plan such as Denplan Care. There are so many reasons this is the case, which I could talk about separately for hours on end. We have worked with many practices that have transferred from another plan provider and opted to put a cap on their capitation plans (only keeping existing capitation patients on this type of plan), opting to only promote and grow a maintenance based plan moving forward.
“The other noticeable trend is the increase in principal dentists making the switch to private dentistry and using a dental plan as a vehicle to make the transition, enabling their patients to budget with a monthly payment to see their preferred dentist. Of course this is all in line with not keeping all their eggs in one basket in light of the uncertainty around the future of the NHS. My team and I relish the opportunity to get involved in this type of plan launch, delving into the viability analysis and financial modelling to identify and recommend the best strategy for the principal, practice and patients.
“Finally, we’ve worked with a number of practices recently that have decided not to take on a plan provider transfer for a number of reasons, but instead have opted to run a new plan administered by Patient Plan Direct alongside their existing plan, taking advantage of cost savings in admin fees for new patients joining the practice’s plan.”
Jonny GDPUK: How long have you been aware of GDPUK? Why do you think it works so well?
Simon: “I have been aware of GDPUK for as long as I’ve been involved in dentistry. It’s the place I usually hear about the latest news and opinion. As such, I visit the site daily to keep up to speed on what’s new in the world of dentistry. With all the challenges that the dental profession faces these days (many of which are well documented and discussed within GDPUK), it’s so important there is a place where dental professionals can freely express opinion, discuss ideas and offer each other advice, feedback and moral support.
“Every credit to yourself and Tony for keeping the forum running for what is now coming up to 20 years! Long may it continue.”
Jonny GDPUK: As an advertiser on the site, have you found the site a good place to gain business?
Simon: “Without doubt the site has helped raise our brand awareness and helped us extend our message to market, educating the industry on our service proposition. We have had plenty of new enquiries and new clients that initially explained “we saw you on GDPUK”.
“I see the forum as very well respected and trusted amongst the industry; as such it’s a fantastic site to attach our brand to.”
As a private plan provider, how do you see the future of NHS dentistry panning out?
Simon: “Now we have the general election out of the way and details of the prototype dental contracts are becoming a hot topic of discussion, I think it’s safe to say that irrespective of what the new contract eventually looks like, employment under the NHS is not likely to provide greater income for less graft and a stress free life. As such, I’m pretty certain the NHS won't be for everyone and as there was in 2006 there will be a noticeable shift in the number making the move to practicing privately – a process which has already begun.
“Clearly if a dentist or practice is considering the switch from NHS to private, the introduction of a dental plan is a very obvious and proven strategy to achieve the move successfully and retain happy patients.”
Contact Details for Simon: