Utilizing Dental Patient Financing

Alex Nottingham, CEO of All-Star Dental Academy, welcomes Sameer Bhasin, VP of Strategic Alliances at Care Credit. Sameer has a decade of frontline business experience, having worked as a practice development manager and sales regional sales manager. He graduated with his MBA, and currently resides in San Antonio, Texas. Sameer explains that he has been with Care Credit for 17 years, and before that worked as an endo rep for almost three years. He notes that, once you get into dentistry, it is hard to get out, and he loves the profession he gets to serve. Sameer talks about how Care Credit puts the patient at the center of focus, and his hope is to bring knowledge from experts in the profession to Care Credit’s reps. Alex notes that Care Credit is still invested in its team and values, even though they are the number one patient financing company, and they are honored to have Sameer join them at their Practice Growth Summit.

HIGHLIGHTS – Dental Patient Financing

  • [0:00:02] Interview with Sameer Bhasin, VP of Strategic Alliance at Care Credit
  • [0:04:04] Challenges in the Dental Patient Financing
  • [0:06:06] Exploring Solutions to Common Challenges Faced by Private Practices
  • [0:11:35] Utilizing Patient Financing to Grow Your Practice
  • [0:13:49] Utilizing Patient Financing: A Discussion on Metrics and KPIs
  • [0:17:48] Conversation on Increasing Treatment Acceptance Rates
  • [0:19:58] Increase Patient Financing Approval Rates
  • [0:21:50] Maximizing Patient Financing

RESOURCES – Dental Patient Financing

QUOTES – Dental Patient Financing

  • One of the tools or resources that’s available to most practices is called Quick Screen or Pre-Call. What that means is most practices would know before the patient even sits in the chair, whether they will get approved for patient financing through Care Credit or not.
  • 15% to 20% of your overall over-the-counter collection should come from third-party patient financing.
  • The value that we bring to the practice is making sure patients are treated right and are helped in accepting the treatment. It’s always been a big focus from all the way top down.
  • It’s not about always about how much Care Credit patient financing an office can do. It’s more about how can we help that patient. So, I have always felt, and our company is 100% behind it, once you put the patient as the center of focus, magic happens.

About Sameer Bhasin

Sameer is the VP of Strategic Alliance at CareCredit. Sameer shares best practices with CareCredit’s community of more than 110,000 enrolled dental providers.  Prior to his current role, Sameer acquired more than a decade of front-line business practice experience in his position as Practice Development Manager and subsequently as Regional Sales Manager. Sameer earned his MBA and currently resides in San Antonio, Texas.

About Alex Nottingham JD MBA

Alex is the CEO and Founder of All-Star Dental Academy®. He is a former Tony Robbins top coach and consultant, having worked with companies upwards of $100 million. His passion is to help others create personal wealth and make a positive impact on the people around them. Alex received his Juris Doctor (JD) and Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Florida International University.

Episode Transcript – Dental Patient Financing

Transcript generated by A.I. Please excuse the typos.

0:00:09 ALEX NOTTINGHAM: Hi, everyone. I’m ALEX NOTTINGHAM, CEO of Allstar Dental Academy. And welcome to Dental All Stars. Our guest is Sameer Bhasin. Sameer is the VP of strategic alliance at Care Credit. Sameer shares best practices with Care Credit’s community of more than 110,000 enrolled dental providers. Prior to his current role, Sameer acquired more than a decade of frontline business practice experience in his position as practice development manager and subsequently as sales regional sales manager.

0:00:41 Sameer earned his MBA and currently resides in San Antonio, Texas. Please welcome Sameer.

0:00:48 SAMEER BHASIN: Well, good to have you. Good to see you after such a long time. So glad to be here.

0:00:52 ALEX NOTTINGHAM: Awesome. Well, I kind of talked about your bio written up, and a lot of people know about you. A lot of people know about Care Credit, but for those that don’t or just would like to hear more, tell us about your role at Care Credit. Care Credit, in general, how you came to be here, just a little bit about you in general. You like frisbee and dogs. I don’t know. Something like that.

0:01:18 SAMEER BHASIN:  Both, actually, and sometimes frisbee with dogs. There you go. It’s been an amazing, amazing ride. I mean, I love the profession we get to serve, and I’ve been with CareCredit now 17 years. And before that, I was with Dentslide Tulsa dental. I was an endo rep for about almost three years. Dentistry, I think I say it all the time. Once you get into it, it’s very hard to get out. And I am so glad to have been in it for a long time.

But after I immigrated, like 25 years ago, gosh, I’ve actually lived in the US. Longer than I did live in India. And just some great opportunities. The profession is amazing. I love to be in a position to serve. I mean, I used to be a rep, then managed a team, and now I get to work with experts like yourself in the profession to bring some ideas. Everybody, especially in dental offices, we have a tendency of being in our silos.

Life takes over, so you’re doing things day in, day out, and my hope is to bring the knowledge that experts like yourself are teaching and coaching and preaching and pass it over to my reps so that they can transform that and be that resource. It’s not about always about how much Care Credit patient financing an office can do. It’s more about how can we help that patient? Right. So I have always felt and our company is like 100% behind it is once you put the patient as the center of focus, magic happens.

So how can we do more, serve more, help more patients? And that’s what kind of gets me out of bed and makes me excited about what we do and what we get to do.

0:03:16 ALEX NOTTINGHAM: It’s so nice to see care Credit and how it keeps its main team together. And being that you guys are the number one patient financing company, that you guys still make those investments, you still care. It’s not like, okay, we’re the best, and we’re just going to ignore and not involve. You guys are involved, and you’re very high up in Care Credit, and we’re so grateful that we’re going to have you join us at our event. The practice growth summit in May, so it’s coming up soon, 19th and 20th in South Florida. So that’s really a great honor to have you there.

But certainly, again, seeing a great company like yourself that continues to hold their values, it can be difficult. It’s very nice to see.

0:04:04 SAMEER BHASIN: I don’t think very many people actually know that Care Credit originated in dentistry. This is going back 35 years. Yes. When our founders were approached by I want to say they were like periodontists. And the question was, how can we help you do more implants? And it would be great if patients can get some kind of financing to help assist. Now, this is 35 years ago. That was our origin. That’s when it got formed. That’s where it all started.

And we take what we do for the profession and our role within the profession very seriously. We don’t take it for granted. And I think that’s part of the reason where the integrity is important, the patient value, the value that we bring to the practice is making sure the patients are treated right and are helped in accepting the treatment. It’s always been a big focus from all the way top down. That’s part of the reason why it keeps me going.

0:05:10 ALEX NOTTINGHAM: Yeah, it shows. It definitely shows. What are some of the challenges you’re hearing now in the profession?

0:05:19 SAMEER BHASIN: I think some of those will probably won’t come to as a surprise, but the biggest one is, of course, it’s the staffing, and I do not want to use the word staffing, but it’s the lack of talent and practices. So that has been the topic of discussion in every major meeting I’ve been to of how to resolve that, how to solve for it. The labor force is what labor force is, and there are some things that we are able to do. But I think that at this point in time, I’m hearing more and more offices trying to figure out how can be efficient, how can we be efficient with the team that we already have?

Yes, it would be great if we can add another hygienist or another assistant, but what can we do with the ones we have? And that’s where we try to help out and we try to help as in what are some of the systems they can have in place to help with the challenge right now? So that’s one of the biggest one. The second is, of course, it’s always been the same as, should I stay in PPO or should I get out?

The Reimbursements are not the same. They’ve actually gone down again. Whatever your values are, whatever your thought process is, what I know is there’s a solution and there’s a pathway to it. Whether you want to do more or have less, that’s another one. And the last is you mentioned it early when we started talking about it with the corporate dentistry or the large Dsos. Are their competitors or are they an igniter or a catalyst for us as a private or for a private practice to take a look at and say, how can I up my game?

I guess, how can I improve my value to where the competition will always be there, whether it’s another doctor down the street or an organization that’s well known or large group. So we can’t control a lot of that. The only thing we can control is what is our plan? And that’s something we at CareCredit we constantly are trying to look at, work with experts, work with some of the leaders, some of the educators in trying to see what is a better way for everybody to have a good return in whatever they are investing.

0:08:01 ALEX NOTTINGHAM: It’s interesting. Yeah. All those things that you mentioned, I just have to respond because well, one of the issues was, and this is why it’s so nice to reconnect, because Care credits values and our values were so aligned with respect to taking care of the team that you currently have, which is very important. It’s so critical that you’re training. Many of our listeners know that we have an online training. We were one of the first to do it. We have probably the best in the business on that.

There are other ways as well to support that. Like come to the live event where Sameera is going to be there. Yeah, we’re going to be hanging out. That’s always good too. It’s making that investment in your team, not just on Ce, which is so important, clinical Ce, but also on practice management, the soft skills and investing in your team. When you do that, they appreciate that. That helps in terms of retention, that helps in terms of their self-confidence.

The other thing is hiring. Hiring has always been an issue and we’ve heard this for years. That’s been one of the biggest reasons that dentists would postpone training with us. So five years ago we started offering hiring services kind of on the DL. And about two, three years ago we launched our hiring service. And it’s been crazy because so many people need it and it’s being a big part of our business. So I don’t know if you know about that. You’ll meet our hiring director, Robin and she’s also a consultant for Ben Erickson, one of the top HR firms in the country. They’ll be there as well.

So that’s been a need. Guess what I do? I hear there’s a problem. I create a studio and we’re going to do it. Then the other issue I have two more to go. Everyone you mentioned I have an answer baby. So then freedom from the issue of insurance. I’ve seen big issue, there’s problems with a lot of practitioners who are complaining about insurance and there is a way to be free from insurance and we actually coach teams to remove their reliance on insurance.

And the lastly is this idea of corporate dentistry. Now we kind of alluded to this earlier that there are some ones that are doing it the right way with patient service and those that aren’t and I find that those that are not there are some disadvantages to the corporate model. As you know they’re a bigger bureaucracy, it’s harder for them to change and if you’re a private practitioner or a small DSO, you can change very quickly or like care credit, you have a clear leader that then you can create change.

But a lot of these corporate behemoths, it’s hard for them to change and they have a profit motive, complete profit motive for the short term. They don’t look for the long term. So what I’m saying for the listeners is don’t be afraid that there’s a way. And what I find, and I’m sure you too Sameer and a lot would agree that the biggest barrier to dentists and my story, my father’s a dentist and he’ll agree the biggest issue with dentists is themselves, their ego.

An ego comes from how I deal with fear is I’ll do it myself or I know the stubbornness reach out to people. Look, I work for Tony Robbins and he has this thing which is very simple, model the best, it doesn’t matter what I think, what are the best doing and just do that. I have a consultant friend of mine that said I never stole an idea I didn’t like. So modeling and mimicking is the same thing as quote, stealing. It’s kind of a bit of a joke but you get my point. Model the best and get out of your own arse.

0:11:35 SAMEER BHASIN: Yeah, well that’s so true and I think whether it’s a large organization, small organization, there are good and there are ones that can do better but yes, where are you at? What are you true to yourself and what aligns with your values? It’s so important for our practice owners to understand the resources they have from the coaches to even their reps that are walking in. They are there to help them grow their practice.

Yes. Their alternative, maybe they want to buy or they want you to buy more product. That’s not the case with care for our patient financing. Like you either have it or you don’t. You can’t have a silver or a gold level, we don’t really even have that. But for others you can’t buy more product if you are not doing the dentistry and they are the resources so use them, utilize them. You’ve got solutions all around you.

It’s just a matter of, like you said, do what you’re really, really good at, which is dentistry.

0:12:43 ALEX NOTTINGHAM: That’s another thing, too. Oh, man. Sameer, we are sympathetico over here, right? Because do what you do, delegate the rest. Do what you do well and enjoy, and then delegate the rest. How do we know as a practice? Because obviously, putting aside their case acceptance, because you’re getting me off on a rant here, because they need a lot of work. But putting that aside but they’ll come to the event and we’ll train them. But putting that aside, how does one know whether they’re adequately utilizing patient financing in the office? How can they check that?

0:13:17 SAMEER BHASIN: Yeah, and it’s actually something that it’s part of our initiative as well. I think we could have done a better job of giving some kind of a metric for them to know, are we utilizing it? Because here’s the thing. If I was to ask 100 dentists that I see, and I said, how are you doing? How is patient finance? Oh, we use it. We use it all the time. You mentioned it earlier. It’s the perception. And their perception is we see it. We have patients who come in, et cetera.

The easiest metric that I can give, like I said, we get to work with over 110,000 practices, and you can see, like data, I’ve always said, numbers don’t care about your feelings. Data doesn’t care about your feelings. It’s telling you a story. Now, you can either ignore it or you can say, all right, what do we need to do to fix it? So the one of the things that has been always consistent, it’s not so much to the dollar amount of patient financing that they’re doing.

The bigger and the better metric that the practice can control, because I can’t control if a patient happens to be fairly affluent and accepts a $20,000 case and versus not. But what I can control is how is it offered and how is it presented? So here’s a very simple number to keep in mind. If you shoot for if your goal is 10% of your patients should be applying for patient financing per day. So if you see 20 patients a day, you should have one to two applications. And if you really think about it, I can pretty much, with fair amount of confidence, can say, everybody can think of one to two patients a day.

It’s not very hard. The moment you take a look at that metric, which needs to be part of your system. So that’s the easiest way. Have your office manager, have your treatment coordinator say, hey, we’re still in March. We are still early on in the year. Tell me how many applications we did with our patient financing, partners with care, credit, patient financing. And don’t be surprised from the number you’re going to hear, because on an average, it’s usually around like 20 to 25 patients a year.

Yeah. Not month. You heard me right. Yeah. So when I’m talking about one to two a day, we are one to two a month. And again, if you take a look at it, I’m sure if you work with one of when you’re working with one of your practice and say, hey, Dr. Nottingham, can you think of a patient yesterday or two? Patients yesterday or two? They all have like yes, I knew that. I presented an Aligner case or an implant case or a cosmetic case, and I don’t know where they are. They’re not on my schedule.

I know I had this discussion. So that’s the easiest metric would be the best way for you to figure out are you utilizing patient financing? The way and more adequately is to have a goal of like 10% of your patients should be applying for it. Yes. You will have patients who are walking in who already have a care credit card. Right. So that’s fine. That’s great. But there are a lot more that don’t. But giving them the option and having that upfront, it’s the easiest metric once you get there.

If you really want to look at it from a dollar standpoint, if somebody said, okay, give me a dollar standpoint, like, what would be from a practice standpoint? The number that I always say is like good numbers. 15% to 20% of your overall over the counter collection should come from a third party patient financing. So if you’re a million dollars in collection and you should have about $150 to $200,000 in patient finance, that’s a healthy place to be.

So whichever number works best for you, it’s the easiest. Again, do what’s the easiest thing to control and would be the number of patients that’s the fastest and the quickest way of knowing where do we stand?

0:17:27 ALEX NOTTINGHAM: That’s a really cool KPI. I really appreciate that a lot, Sameer, because you could also look at your case acceptance if you’re tracking it correctly, and then look at this and say, is there a link? Because if I’m underperforming on case acceptance, then this may be an indicator. That’s brilliant. Wow.

Yeah. Because again, like I said, data tells a story. So if you are looking at your unacceptable the treatment that’s not accepted, or they’re still in the books and diagnosed and unscheduled. So there’s one or two things you will look at. Like, okay, every I’m very good at treatment acceptance. When the treatment amount is like $500 or $700 okay. Then we are good. The moment it hits $1,000, we have a lot of those patients sitting. So it tells me one of two things. Obviously that that’s the mental ceiling of most of my patients. They are uncomfortable with it. All right. So that’s one thing.

0:18:22 SAMEER BHASIN: The other thing that would start to show is we are good at having recommended care acceptance conversation when it comes to a single crown. But the moment we discuss aligner or discuss implants, it takes a nosedive. All right, how are we presenting it? What tools are we using it? Again, use that information. But the easiest is, like I said, goal should be like about 10%. Go for it. And like I said, I can speak from looking at practices who have done that very confidently.

You wouldn’t have to worry about what other practices or owners or large groups are doing. This will change the way you practice. Simple. Keep it simple.

0:19:07 ALEX NOTTINGHAM: Keep it simple. I love it. Speaking of simple, can you give me one thing that I can put into practice tomorrow that would have the biggest impact on my business regarding patient financing or anything that comes to your brilliant mind?

0:19:22 SAMEER BHASIN: Yeah. So the one that comes to me, like, you asked for one, I’m going to give you at least two. It kind of addresses a lot of the conversations we’ve had before. One of the tool or resource that’s available to most practices, it’s called Quick screen or pre call. What that means is most practices would know before the patient even sits in the chair, will they get approved for patient financing through care credit or not?

What does that do without running their credit? So that’s the key. Without running a patient’s credit, they will know, what are the chances of this patient getting approved? What that helps with the patient, with the team, I hope is now I know Alex is coming in. He’s a new patient. I have no idea what kind of benefits he has, what kind of treatment is going to need. It’s like the first time he’s coming in. So you’re using very basic information, name and address to do that. Quick screen or prequal.

And if it comes back and that Alex is pre approved or approved for 3000, 4000, whatever the dollar amount you requested. Now, to me as a team member, I can be very confident in that. You will get that option. You will be approved if you were to apply. So how does that change my conversation? Creating that sense of urgency, developing that value that we talked about. Now it’s more about how can we focus on creating the value of the treatment that I just discussed. So that’s one is utilizing quick screen or pre call as part of your daily again, I call it like a training wheel. Let’s just get started to see who are those patients who have a very high probability of getting approved. Let’s start there and remember going back to that ten, one to two patients or whatever, 10%.

It’s a great way to figure out who those are. I don’t ever want because I think one of the things I’ve heard over the years is, and we all know it, we’ve all heard it, never judge a book by its cover, but we do it all the time. It takes away that element of could he or would she approve? Not approved, it doesn’t matter. Again, here’s a tool that I’m giving you a huge amount of confidence in saying.

Utilize it, you will know it, and let’s figure out a verbal skills around it. That’s where you come into play. Like, how can we put verbal skills around to make it part of a solution that I just offered? So that’s one, the second is and it’s kind of tied with the first one is the QR code. Everybody like, pre. The two years that we went through QR codes were like, there we’ve had QR code as part of our solution for at least five, six years now, if I’m not mistaken.

But they are much more of a norm today. You can’t even pick up a menu if you don’t even have a menu at Moore’s Restaurant. It’s just a QR code is to utilize that QR code to help the patient do that application so your team is not involved in that process of it. You don’t have to keep up with the paperwork. And the patient does it right on their phone. They will know immediately. And they can also check. Will I get pre qualified if they’re afraid that I don’t know if I’ll get approved by Care Credit for patient financing?

It’s right there. Pre call. They can check it without running their credit. We will know. So those are the top two things that I would say is to incorporate. But last but not least, definitely get your rep in to do a training or lunch and learn. They can help you with what works best, what are your focus for the year. And here are some of the tools, resources. They’re all complimentary. They’re free to them, I should say that, I guess.

0:23:24 ALEX NOTTINGHAM: Awesome. Well, Sameer, thank you so much for being on the podcast.

0:23:29 SAMEER BHASIN: My pleasure.

0:23:30 ALEX NOTTINGHAM: Yeah. Please remember to subscribe on YouTube and follow us on Apple podcasts and Spotify. And until next time, go out there and be an all-star.

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