‘Compliance’ may be one of the most hated words amongst dental practitioners these days. Indeed, whether it’s HTM01-05 or CQC, it pervades almost every aspect of the profession – and there really is no escaping it.
However, while we may not want to like compliance, there can be no denying that it has helped us improve our service, protect our patients and ourselves. Certainly, without HTM01-05, our practices would not be nearly as safe as they are today, and without the CQC, many more cases of malpractice might go unnoticed, undermining the integrity of the dental profession.
These days, however, compliance extends far beyond the clinical aspects of our work – decontamination, patient consent and case documentation, for example; indeed, as mentioned above, it is integral to almost everything we do within the walls of our practice.
This also includes our finance options. Patient finance is by no means a new feature in modern dentistry, but it is certainly becoming increasingly more popular as patient demands begin to change. Certainly, as more and more patients seek out elective, cosmetic treatments – many of which necessitate higher value procedures – the need to provide cost-effective credit options is essential. Indeed, if there is one thing that we have all learnt since the recessionary years, it’s that ‘affordability’ is golden. As the demand for different treatments rises, so too does the competition between professionals – both inside and outside the UK. As such, it is vitally important to offer ways for patients to financially access the treatments they want.
Of course, by offering finance options in practice, dental professionals are introducing themselves to yet another form of compliance – and a particularly stringent one at that. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulates all consumer credit, and its guidelines are strict.
Indeed, the FCA does not distinguish between a dentist, who has built up trust and who may have a long-term relationship with their patients, and a company that deals with patients on an entirely ad hoc basis. The result of this is that dental professionals who want to offer their patients finance options for treatment will be subject to the same stringent regulations as any payday loan company or bank.
As one might imagine, therefore, the amount of administration involved in maintaining compliance with the regulations can be something of a nightmare – especially for independent practices that do not have the resources of manpower to dedicate a specific member of staff to its maintenance.
In fact, just applying to the FCA for finance authorisation can be an excruciating process – not to mention the subsequent reporting and reviews that the FCA requires on a regular basis. All this can be particularly disruptive – and is unlikely to really be one of the highest priorities in a busy practice that already has to deal with many other compliance issues on a day-to-day basis.
Of course, this does put practices at risk of falling foul of the regulations – and represents a real threat to the reputation and financial wellbeing of any practice.
So, unfortunately, dental professionals may find themselves in something of a catch-22 situation. As more and more patients demand affordable dental treatments, practitioners may feel as though they need to offer credit options, but by doing so, they will have to devote time they probably do not have to the appropriate compliance protocols and regulations. And if they cannot, they will not be able to meet the demands of their patients at all – and run the risk of losing business.
Luckily, however, there are a number of solutions. In light of the increased interest in dental finance options, a number of third party companies have appeared that will handle all aspects of finance compliance for the practice – for a fee. These fees can be quite high, but they do buy practices the chance to leave all matters of compliance in the hands of the company they have chosen to work on their behalf. The problem with this, though, is that FCA authorisation is still in the name of the practice owner, who will ultimately be responsible – and liable – for the authorisation overall.
Another option is to work with a company that can offer exemption from authorisation through its own FCA arrangements. This means practitioners will not need direct authorisation through the FCA – and all matters of compliance and liability will be lifted from the practitioner’s shoulders.
Now there is a company in the UK that offers this type of service to dental professionals: Chrysalis Finance. Their expert team works to ensure dentists have access to easy, safe and cost-effective credit options, which they can then offer to their patients with absolute peace of mind.
In a profession as tightly controlled by compliance as dentistry, every little helps. Offering credit options to patients may be becoming a very real aspect of the profession, but stressing over the compliance does not have to be. Contact the team at Chrysalis Finance to find out more.
For more information about Chrysalis Finance call us on 0333 32 32 230 or visit www.chrysalisfinance.com