Interview with Megan Lohman at Plan Forward on dental practice annual planning

Megan Lohman, Founder and Co-CEO

As Founder and Co-CEO of Plan Forward, Megan is passionate about creating profitable insurance alternatives for dentists and loves being an integral part of Plan Forward’s evolution. She has a heavy focus on product development, enterprise client onboarding, and internal operations.  

Megan graduated from Indiana University and currently resides in Westfield, IN with her husband, Peter, two kids, Henry and Leah. 

Megan Lohman and her team at Plan Forward help dentists and dental teams grow relationships, increase case acceptance and build loyalty within the dental practice.

Listen to our conversation today about how a membership plan can be a value added offer to your non-insured patients. You can learn more at:

Below you can read the full transcript which was transcribed by Otter. Please ignore any grammar errors or repeat words 🙂

Dayna Johnson 0:08 

Hey, my friends, welcome to Novonee on the Go your podcast for Dentrix super users. And I am super excited for today because I have a special guest on our podcast for today. As you know, we are talking about annual planning and for so this whole third quarter, we are diving into annual planning. And if you’ve been listening to our last couple of podcasts, you know that we’re in the middle of summer, right? We’re in the middle of summer, and you might not be thinking about next year. But this time of year, is extremely important for you to start thinking about goal setting and the possibility of what your practice is going to look like next year. My guest today is a good friend and dental colleague, we have been working together for a few years. Megan Loman with Plan Forward, she is the founder and co-CEO. Megan, welcome. I think we first met maybe at an AADOM convention. Is that right?

Megan Lohman 1:48 

Yeah,I think that’s right. It’s great to be here.

Dayna Johnson 1:51 

Yeah, thank you. And I’m excited for us to dive into our conversation. But first, I just want to bring our audience up to speed. A little bit more about Megan, what I learned is, she has been in dentistry for a little over 10 years and, and Ewoks you also worked in adult practice for about four years or so.

Megan Lohman 2:11 

I did that’s right, front desk and more as a patient financial coordinator slash where every other business hat and the practice.

Dayna Johnson 2:20 

Yeah, yeah, I know, there are lots of hats in the dental practice. Well, I’m glad that you’ve had that experience, because you know what our team members do every day, and what their workflow looks like. And so, Megan and I were talking about annual planning, of course, we’re still in the middle of summer. Megan has two kids. So you probably understand that, you know, who wants to think about annual planning when we’re still on vacation? And we’re going to the pool and all that kind of good stuff.

Megan Lohman 2:56 

Exactly. We’re still vacation mode, but we can talk about annual planning.

Dayna Johnson 2:59 

I know, I know, we have to separate our personal summer plans and our and our business plans for sure. So we’re gonna kick it off by talking about Megan was informing me, you know, before we started recording, that she and her team are really prepping and educating their audience about open enrollment is coming up in October. And I wanted to kick started with that, because I wasn’t even aware that open enrollment for you know, medical, like I get my medical on the on the Colorado exchange. And so, you know, open enrollment has always kind of been in my vocabulary, but it might not be as prevalent with all our dental practices. So, fill us in a little bit how open enrollment in October should be part of our annual planning session.

Megan Lohman 4:03 

Yeah, absolutely. So especially when patients get their dental insurance through their employer, which the large majority of patients do and all of those elections for if you want to make a change to your medical or your dental or any benefit that your employer offers, there is only I think it’s October 15. Through I think mid December. This also goes for Medicare patients. So, all your retirees on Medicare, if they are choosing to purchase a dental supplement, they’re making this decision in the fall for the 2024 calendar year.

Dayna Johnson 4:51 

So our patients are also doing annual planning as well. It sounds like

Megan Lohman 4:56 

Absolutely yes. Unless you have a major life event, you have a child or you get divorced, or you actually change companies, that’s the only time you can actually change your benefit selection outside of this Fall period. Okay, so for one who’s, you know, just at their company, they’re electing medical and dental for next year, they make that decision.

Megan Lohman 5:02

Yeah, coming up here in a couple months.

Dayna Johnson 5:28 

So why is that decision important for their dental provider?

Megan Lohman 5:36 

So, a lot of practices, or a lot of front office team members, specifically helping patients who are so frustrated with maybe the lack of value that they’re getting from their dental insurance plan. So even though employers may offer dental, they may still be paying a decent amount of money every month in in the premium for that plan option. And then when they go to use the benefits, you know, things are down coded or excluded, or they’re still paying a lot out of pocket. Almost everyone we talked to throughout the day, you know, is helping patients through this conversation of okay, well, you do have dental benefits, but blah, blah, blah, and they go through on why they have a balance. And so, these are underinsured patients. So, this is the opportunity that your front office team members have. And your practice has to communicate with patients, Hey, make sure you’re running numbers, because sometimes it’s cheaper for you just to pay our office directly, than pay for this dental insurance plan and pay for the out of pocket portion.

Dayna Johnson 6:50 

I remember when I was in a practice, and our patients would come and ask us, you know, I need to renew my dental benefits. And they were self-employed, or they it was a Medicare supplement or something like that. And they would come to us and say, you know, should I opt in for this for my dental? And my first question to them always was, what are the what’s the premium? What’s the monthly premium? Because they would come to me and say, Well, I’d get $1,000 benefit for this dental plan? Should I buy it? And my first question was always, what’s the premium? Because if the premium is like 50 bucks a month, you know, their pain? What is that, you know, $50 a month 12, they’re paying $600 a year just in premiums, and then and then deduct that from the from the maximum, they’re only really getting $400 a month and benefits, or a year and a year in benefits? And so then I would tell them, No, it’s not, it’s not worth you getting that. And you know, that was way back in the day before membership plans were even available, or even even talked about. So I think that’s a really good conversation for our dental teams to be having with our with our patients.

Megan Lohman 8:18 

And regardless of what you have in your practice today, in terms of options for these patients, it’s still helpful to send out a communication to say, hey, we know open enrollment is around the corner, make sure you’re you know, running numbers to make sure you’re getting the most value out of the insurance plan. Because obviously some patients are you know, the employer is paying 100% of that premium or close to it, then absolutely, that’s a great value. But others may not. And so if you can help give them tips, like, you know, add up how much you are paying a premium, add up how much you’ve paid off pocket and our practice and just compare, that’s just guidance and keeping it top of mind for your patients.

Dayna Johnson 9:03 

I think that’s such a great point and what a value added service that our teams can do to provide our patients with such a great topic, you know, to even think about because I bet a lot of patients don’t even think about that they have other they have other options available.

Megan Lohman 9:24 

Yeah. And paying directly just hanging out of pocket full fees. Sometimes it’s cheaper, which seems crazy for him.

Dayna Johnson 9:33 

Well, I agree. And, and you know, we have to think about how many of our patients are self-employed now, you know, or they’re a gig employer. They’re a 1099 employee now or, and, you know, so they’re now self-employed. I’m self-employed and I have to really think about my insurance benefits and sometimes it has been cheaper for me to pay out of pocket. So, I really think that’s such a great topic of conversation for our patients. Okay, I’m so glad that you brought up that October open enrollment, because I had no idea that even could play a big role in the dental practice. So thank you for that. The next thing I want to dive into is, let’s say that the doctor is ready to really explore this membership thing. I know that they’ve been around for a while. And, you know, now I think that my practice might be ready to onboard a membership plan. And I’m going to add this topic into my annual planning session for this year, what are your top three things that doctors should be looking at, or evaluating when they are looking at adding a membership plan? Or I like sometimes I like to call them a loyalty plan?

Megan Lohman 11:25 

I think that the biggest reason people implement a membership plan is to your point loyalty. In it, it’s the easiest way to help patients who are either confused or asking for benefit recommendations, it’s the easiest answer that, you know, is a great value. So as a front office person, it’s really hard to answer the question when a patient calls and says, Hey, would you recommend me re upping my dental insurance or my employer switching my dental insurance? Which plan do you recommend, it’s almost impossible to know whether or not you’re advising them to buy something that’s a good value until they actually use it in your practice. So I think when you think about how you want to grow, the profitability model and implementing a membership plan is definitely one to serve your patients and help keep them loyal to your practice. And the second piece is, it’s a way to improve your profitability through these uninsured patients. In a third piece, if this is really a doctor focused initiative, the other piece is talk to your your front office team. And ask them, What are you typically recommending, when patients ask you, Amanda? Reference, you know, what’s your answer? And see what they say?

Dayna Johnson 13:04 

Yeah, yeah, I think that’s a good point. Those are all really good points. I love the part about loyalty because, you know, I talk a lot about patient retention to my teams. And I think membership plans are a way of improving your patient retention, creating that loyalty and also increasing your case acceptance. And, you know, because it’s a way of helping our patients, you know, make it a little bit more affordable for them. You know, I’m on a membership plan with a couple of my providers, you know, like my massage therapist, and my husband has a as on a membership plan for chiropractic. And you know, so we see it in a lot of industries now, mostly because, healthcare just doesn’t pay. And, and I think it really helps our patients to feel have this perceived this perceived value, it is a value because they are getting a discount. So it’s this value that they’re that they wouldn’t have normally been getting. And so talk to us a little bit about that about the perception based on maybe the patient’s in through the patient size.

Megan Lohman 14:31 

So, it is it does keep the patient loyal to the practice. That’s absolutely true. But the other thing from a consumers perspective, from a patient’s perspective is it really is a service. You don’t have to have an in house plan. Many practices implement these as a service to their patients and their community because they know that dental insurance is less and less prevalent, and less and less valuable, and more and more providers are actually trying to move away from insurance dependents and figuring out other ways to grow, to grow revenue to grow a patient base without being contracted with the insurance companies. And so, if you can provide a service to the patients, and keep them loyal, then the biggest thing is consumers want to save money. Bottom line. So, it has to be presented and constructed, you know, when you do create this offering, the patient has to save money by joining your plan, regardless, where there isn’t a lot of value in it for them. So, you mentioned you and your husband are on, you know, these other subscription plans with these other service providers. But to your point, it’s because you save a little money, and exactly, but it keeps you coming back regularly, as you know, you want to you find value in it. But I mean, it’s a little perk for being loyal, you save a little money, and that’s exactly what it is.

Dayna Johnson 16:01 

For sure, yeah. And not just a perception, but, you know, the idea of it in, in a consumers eyes is I want to save money. And so you know, the value is, you know, perception is reality. And the reality is, is that they are getting some savings. And I think do see a lot of patients will, will go to a provider that does offer a, you know, a seed some type of savings plan for their patients that don’t have benefits, you know, so I am seeing so many providers, dentists, dropping out of PPO plans. And so this is really a great way to provide patients with, you know, an additional savings.

Megan Lohman 17:00 

I think what you mentioned with, you know, health care and insurance, just not really paying these days, consumers are becoming more savvy on where they want to spend their hard earned dollars. And we are all about consumers are all about transparency. And so if you can create something as a service to them, that is fully transparent with pricing, and gives them peace of mind that they can come in for their cleanings and not have sticker shock, or find out they have to have an FMX that day, and they weren’t planning to spend $160 on that X ray, it just makes their experience coming into your practice. So much more peaceful, they don’t have to worry about it, you know, and they’ve opted into this plan. So, you know, they, they obviously find it valuable. And so now it’s just created an even better experience. And it creates relational patients, not ones that are just out searching for Groupon deal.

Dayna Johnson 18:01 

Exactly. I agree with you. And so when we’re talking about, like this annual planning session that our that our doctors should be having this time of year, looking ahead at next year. You know, one thing that we, as consultants, you know, we ask our doctors to do with their financial advisors or with their CPAs is, you know, first thing we want them to do is look at their historical data to look at, you know, where were we, at the, you know, last year, where do we want to be for next year, you know, so then we start to look at the goals. And I know that, you know, I helped my doctors to pull a lot of numbers and KPIs. And that’s one thing that you and I were talking about before we started recording is that we will want our doctors to pull some numbers so that they can really get an idea of number one, is a membership plan going to be beneficial for my practice. And then number two, what is it going to, you know, how is it going to help my practice grow, whether that’s growing their retention, patient retention, or growing their case acceptance. So I know you and I talked about those pulling those numbers. We’re not going to get into the weeds, but in this podcast, but if a doctor was like, I just don’t know how to pull those numbers, can they reach out to you and maybe get some advice from you and your team?

Megan Lohman 19:39 

Absolutely. We have kind of a core handful of data points that are just good to dive in and take a look because I will tell you what doctors automatically assume is that their uninsured patients are coming in every six months. as prescribed, or every three months if they’re perio, and they’re actually paying their full fees. And so when it comes to membership plans, I know instinctually sometimes they think, oh my gosh, why would I give discounts to my uninsured patients who are otherwise paying my full fees. But right there, that’s the biggest misconception because I promise you, you’re writing off X rays, people are not coming in every six months, or every three months when they’re perio. You’re agreeing not to take bitewings Because they’re begging and pleading not to take them, like things are happening, where your uninsured patients are actually not generating what you may assume. So it’s, it’s actually getting a better handle on how our how, how is my practice actually doing from an uninsured patient perspective, and would implementing something, something like this actually increased my bottom line, even though I’m decreasing my fees?

Dayna Johnson 21:02 

And oh, yeah, that’s really interesting. That’s a such a good point. Because if we do get our uninsured patients to come in on time and on schedule, and we also have the opportunity to revisit their treatment plan, we have the an opportunity to reeducate them about any pathology, that there might be any broken teeth and the aesthetics that might be they might be thinking about, because if we can get our uninsured patients to come in on their regular visit, then we get to talk to them about maybe an upcoming wedding that’s happening and where and oh, you know, maybe we’re having this Invisalign special, or, you know, we get to talk to patients about dentistry and about treatment and, and big life events that might be coming up where as if the patients weren’t coming in for their regular visit, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to, to talk to them about dentistry.

Megan Lohman 22:10 

Exactly. And these, these uninsured patients when they come in, you know, not every practice, I know, some practices have such a great policy on X rays, and they just they take them or they invite the patient to find a different dentist, but the large majority, kind of are in this gray area, where they it’s a conversation every time with uninsured patients. And so when you’re able to kind of offer them this membership plan, that includes their X rays, and just includes everything according to your own protocol and your standard of care, then when they do come in, you have the opportunity to talk to him. And they’re also not pushing back on X rays. So you can actually do your job, see what’s going on and present more treatment, because you have more X rays and more visits.

Dayna Johnson 22:59 

Yeah, I agree. 100%. And, and so then the final piece that I want to kind of end with is, so the the office has the, you know, the doctors like yes, I’m on board, we’re going to talk about this during our annual planning session, we’re gonna get the team on board. So that’s kind of my next question for you is, how does the doctor really get the team get buy in from the team? And because it’s really going to be the team, not only the hygienists, and the admin team members, but they’re the ones that are actually going to be executing this plan. And, you know, so what does that conversation look like for the doctor than to, you know, get the get buy in from the team to implement a membership plan.

Megan Lohman 23:55 

I think the doctor has to be very confident that this is a good decision for patients, it’s going to be a good value for patients, and it’s going to be good for the business, and educate the team on why they’re implementing it. And so maybe it’s for the front office person to have a good solution for these uninsured patients when they ask questions, but the next piece of doubt in their mind is well how are we going to manage it? You know, how is this going to affect any kind of production goals? Or if your hygienists are paid on commission, how’s it going to affect their pay because that’s what they’re going to start thinking about.

Dayna Johnson 24:45 

So then they start thinking about what’s in it for me.

Megan Lohman 24:48 

It makes the human nature, you know, if, if you’re going to, you know, create a plan that affects pricing and production. We want to know that you can manage it and administer it from a front office standpoint, but also from a back office and compensation structure that, you know, it’s not going to negatively impact their either their goals or their production or their income.

Dayna Johnson 25:18 

Yeah, agreed? Well, and so, it sounds like the doctors have not only a lot to think about, but a lot to talk to you about, because they’re going the doctors are going to want to kind of dive a little bit more into the weeds and get some specific questions answered. So, Megan, I’m gonna put your contact info in the show notes for today. But tell our listeners, the best way to reach out to you?

Megan Lohman 25:48 

Yeah, absolutely. I think the best way is probably just shoot me an email directly. It’s Or you can always call me again, you’re gonna put the cell phone number in there, we’re on our website, which is And you can always, you know, schedule a time or find a time to connect with us. Our goal is really to answer those questions that I was prompting about, you know, what the dentist is probably thinking about, and help create a roadmap so that they don’t have to come up with all these answers, will tell them best practices will put the plan in place will give them a roadmap, and ultimately be the support person to train their team and support them along the way.

Dayna Johnson 26:35 

I love that that’s exactly what we do help offices with the roadmap on, you know, optimizing their software and systems. And it sounds like that’s exactly what you do with membership plans as well.

Megan Lohman 26:48 

Yep, we want to learn what’s, what’s their process? And how can we help our system, plug into what they’re already doing, and not make them recreate the wheel and, you know, create a program that sits in a silo that doesn’t actually go with their workflow.

Dayna Johnson 27:04 

Exactly. Well, Megan, this has been so eye opening. Oh, my gosh, thank you so much for this great information. I appreciate you spending time with us today.

Megan Lohman 27:13 

You’re welcome. And thank you for having me on. It was great to connect.

Dayna Johnson 27:17 

Yeah, absolutely. Well, if you are listening to this podcast, and you found that this information was relevant, and very engaging and informative, please share it, rate it, review it. Wherever you get your podcasts, whether you’re listening on Apple, or Spotify, please share our podcasts with your friends and colleagues. We really appreciate getting our information out to all the dental practices. And we really appreciate that you have taken some time, your precious time out of your day today to spend a little bit of time with us today. We really appreciate it. We hope that you have a great rest of your day and we look forward to watching your journey of becoming a Dentrix super user. And looking forward to next time

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