ODA researching new benefits to support dental offices, including in-office dental plan and group buying arrangement

The Ohio Dental Association has been looking into new membership benefits to support dental offices, including a group purchasing arrangement and endorsing an in-office dental plan platform.

These benefits and others are being explored by the ODA’s DSO Task Force, which Dr. Steve Moore formed during his presidency at the 2017 ODA House of Delegates. Current ODA President Dr. Michael Halasz reappointed the task force, and over the last two years it has worked to investigate ways that the ODA can provide additional support to dental practices, similar to that of a Dental Service Organization (DSO).

“The DSO Task Force was established to attempt to see where the ODA could help solo and small group practices compete in the same space as corporate or DSO supported practices,” said Dr. Tom Paumier, chair of the ODA’s DSO Task Force. “Could we ‘level the playing field’ for individual dentists to gain the same advantages which DSO supported practices had?  We have identified numerous support strategies that can help those in solo and small group practice models compete with DSO supported practices.”

One of the new benefits the task force has researched is the possibility of endorsing an in-office dental plan or membership program.

An in-office dental plan allows dentists to offer their uninsured patients the ability to join the plan and pay a monthly or yearly fee directly to the dental practice in exchange for services and discounts created by the dentist.

Offering access to an in-office dental membership plan creates a predictable, recurring revenue stream that is an alternative to traditional insurance reimbursement revenue, it helps reduce the cost barrier for uninsured patients and increase case acceptance, and it helps strengthen patient loyalty.

Dentists are able to set up an in-office plan themselves, but offices have reported that maintaining their own plan takes a lot of staff time and money. By utilizing a platform to create, customize and automate a plan, staff members can be less involved in the process because it is turnkey and user friendly, saving the dental office time and money.

While using a platform, the dentist is able to have total control over setting the fees and enrolling patients, but it allows for easier member management and payment options.

The Ohio Dental Association Services Corp. is currently finalizing a contract to endorse an in-office dental plan platform for member dentists at a discounted price.

The task force is also looking into creating a group purchasing arrangement for ODA members. Research has indicated that ODA members are interested in discounts on products for their office, specifically on consumable supplies. According to the 2018 ODA membership survey, 75% of member dentists are interested in group-buying benefits.

By creating a group purchasing arrangement or “buyers’ club,” the ODA can band together and leverage purchasing power to enable participants to receive discounts on supplies and equipment.

Additionally, the task force is overseeing the development of a regulatory compliance manual for ODA members. The manual would include informational pieces, checklists and sample documents for dental offices so they can ensure they are in compliance with state and federal regulations. The manual will feature yearly updates so members can be confident they are continuing to meet regulatory requirements.

“There are numerous other areas where we can support member dentists to help them preserve their chosen practice model,” Paumier said. “Stay tuned for the roll out of an ODA ‘buyers club,’ in-office dental plan endorsement and regulatory compliance manual, and look for additional benefits in the near future.  Your membership in organized dentistry gives you access to the best ‘DSO’ support available to dentists.”

Watch future issues of the “ODA Today” for more details on these new benefits.