One of the most common reasons why Australians skip seeing a dentist is because of the prospect of a big bill. While Medicare does its share of heavy lifting when it comes to many medical costs, and private health insurance may cover a portion of the remaining gap fee, this can still result in significant out of pocket expenses for both one off events and ongoing treatments. 

Using dental care as an example, private health insurance may cover a checkup, scale and clean but may not cover more comprehensive treatments. Even with premium dental cover, Australians potentially face a significant out of pocket expense.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Oral health and dental care in Australia report, around four in 10 Australians over the age of 15 either delay or avoid dental visits due to cost. What’s more, of those Australians that do visit a dentist, around one in four defer or avoid a recommended dental treatment due to the cost. 

Bill shock is all too common in Australia, not just for dentistry but for other potentially life changing medical procedures as well. Buying a new pair of glasses, especially those with specialty lenses can be a severe financial burden, as can specialty orthotics, medical braces, ongoing treatments and the like.

Not only is this reticence to seek medical help due to costs detrimental to the overall health of Australians, it also has a noticeable impact on healthcare providers due to a reduction in both bookings and service fees.

Healthcare businesses have seen the benefit of adopting Buy Now Pay Later services with adoption across the industry growing fast. The problem that remains, however, is that consumers (patients) aren’t aware that a practice may offer this payment option when making or thinking about making a booking. 

As part of our ongoing commitment to helping healthcare practitioners offer the best service possible to grow their practices, and ensure that patients can access healthcare when they need it, MyHealth1st has partnered with Melbourne based, “Buy Now, Pay Later” provider, Openpay, to offer flexible payment plans to patients of healthcare providers that utilise the MyHealth1st digital booking portal.

This partnership offers financial security to patients and practices, with that security flowing on to MyHealth1st. When a payment plan is entered into and agreed to by the patient, the practice receives full payment upfront and the patient can repay the debt interest free. Openpay then takes ownership of the repayment process, performing any follow ups as needed without input from the business.

The Partnership

An initial pilot that ran between November 2020 and February 2021 saw the involvement of 68 healthcare practices across the country. An important and revealing fact that was uncovered during the pilot program was that of the bookings indicating Openpay as a payment method, 60% of bookings were for new patients. The number of new bookings opting for Buy Now, Pay Later plans appears to jibe with the overall trend of people delaying or declining medical help due to cost. This is further reinforced by the fact that 83% of patients opting for payment plans did not previously have an Openpay account.

The partnership pilot also resulted in a substantial uptick of overall bookings for participating practices across the board, with one standout being a dental practice in Craigieburn that saw a 56% uplift in bookings overall. 

Due to the success of the initial pilot program, Openpay and MyHealth1st have agreed to a wide, lasting commitment that will not only make Openpay payment plans available to MyHealth1st practices, but for PetYeti veterinary practices as well. 

The full scale roll out will be focused on key segments including Optometry, Dental, and Specialists, as well as a launch into the veterinary space in conjunction with the 1st Group veterinary platform, PetYeti. This large scale rollout gives both 1st Group and Openpay the opportunity to expand into thousands of practices within Australia  

Nick Grant, the Head of Healthcare at Openpay is one of the brains behind the partnership. “We’re really excited about this partnership as we see a strong strategic alignment with 1st Group. We’re both working in key healthcare areas and collectively we can add significant value to both our practice partners and our end patients. It’s definitely something we’re excited to be able to bring to the market”.

The veterinary space has the potential to be a lucrative avenue for both partners. Due to lockdowns, the increasing numbers of people working from home and other fallout from the global pandemic, 2020 saw a huge increase in pet buying and adoption. As just one example, between 2 March and 19 April, PetRescue saw 12,534 adoptions, primarily of cats and dogs, around double what they would typically expect during that period.

“We are proud to be leaders in the Veterinary space in Australia, and have plans for this to expand into the UK and US. Our product allows Vet practices to focus on providing the best level of care, meaning consumers aren’t choosing between their financial health and the health of their pets. The partnership with Pet Yeti will further improve the experience for practices and pet owners”, says Mr. Grant.

The full partnership between 1st Group and Openpay through MyHealth1st and PetYeti will deliver a slew of benefits to all involved parties.

  • Patients
    Patients will be able to access the best level of care of the best available product without the fear of a single big bill.
  • Practices
    Healthcare providers will be able to reach new patients and the option to pay in installments will result in more bookings and conversions.
  • Partners
    The partnership between 1st Group and Openpay will drive acquisition of new healthcare practices for both parties, leading to both increased revenue and reach.

How it Works

Openpay availability has been made visible within the MyHealth1st Marketplace for participating practices.

  1. When a prospective patient searches for a healthcare provider on the MyHealth1st Marketplace, participating practices will carry a “Buy Now, Pay Later Available” badge, making it easy for patients looking for these services to identify practices that offer Openpay.
  2. On the MyHealth1st Profile Page for participating practices badges will also be displayed, showing any and all Buy Now Pay Later providers the practice is affiliated with. This again makes it easy for patients to see BNPL options.
  3. If and when a patient commits to booking an appointment with that practice, patients will be asked if they wish to pay for their consult/resulting purchases through Openpay. If the patient chooses this option, they will then be asked if they currently have an Openpay account. This enables further educational messaging to users based on their experience with Openpay, and forwards patients without an account to Openpay to register.
  4. MyHealth1st will then send confirmation and follow up emails/SMS to the patient with details of the appointment. The body of the email will change depending on whether the patient indicated they had an Openpay account or not.