You provide the service. You do the treatment.
But do you get paid?
If you’re experiencing a disconnect relative to the “getting paid” question, it could be time to implement some core strategies for improving your dental practice collections.
Why the “disconnect” around dental practice collections?
Money doesn’t grow on trees, as the saying goes. However, money is more available when systems are in place to acquire revenue through your services.
Certain gaps in your billing and collections process could account for delayed or missing payments. Dental Claims Support 1 provides insight into three common issues related to low collections percentages.
1-Insurance payments are not being logged into your database
This is a common occurrence. For example, checks could be cashed, but the amount isn’t posted in the dental practice management software ledger.
Checks are placed in a desk drawer for later posting but remain pending or forgotten.
2-Dental insurance isn’t verified
”Insurance verification is one of the most important tasks your team can do to increase insurance collections percentages.” 2
Delays in eligibility verification lead to delays in payment collection. Claims could also be delivered to the wrong insurance company, or you might discover that coverage was never available in the first place.
Timely verification can answer those questions and/or help you avoid payment delays.
3-Task and workflow challenges
The “too-many-hats” syndrome could be a cause of stalled collections. As in, your team is pulled in too many directions answering phones, scheduling patients and checking patients in and out.
Insurance billing and payments, along with patient follow-up, can easily slip off their radar. To raise collections:
- Evaluate your practice. Determine if any or all of these issues could be affecting your dip in collections.
- Establish a new workflow to help assure that collections are prioritized by a designated team member or a team rotation.
And speaking of new workflows, the following can provide some fresh energy for managing and staying current on your dental practice collections.
Four strategies for improving your dental practice collections rate
You may have already implemented these (or a related form of) collections-focused workflows. Consider them a reboot and determine how you can stay consistent going forward.
1-Provide clear communication about your patient payment process
Patients somewhat expect that you have a payment process. Even so, it’s essential that your team doesn’t assume that patients are aware of or understand your policy. To clearly communicate your payment process:
- Put your payment policies in writing on your intake forms (as part of your website FAQ page) and in a visible place at your front desk or in your patient consult room.
- Clarify payment details such as: when payment is expected, payment options, financing solutions, past-due policies, etc.
- Train your front office team how to communicate your payment policy in a compelling and engaging way.
2-Offer payment options to your patients
Flexible payment solutions are good for your bottom line. They also help establish a positive connection with current and new patients.
- A percentage prior to treatment with the balance due when treatment begins.
- Percentage discounts for full (up front) cash payments or for early balance pay off.
- Monthly payments via third-party services or in-house financing.
It’s helpful to make these solutions a major part of your payment communication narrative. Patients might feel a sense of relief knowing they have options to pay for treatment they need.
It’s worth repeating. Consistent, routine follow-up on two fronts — the insurance company and your patient — can improve your return on collections.
Past 90 days, an account loses 7% of its value each month it is overdue. 3 It’s also worth weighing the cost in team energy to keep accounts from going past the 90-day point.
- Craft a doable follow-up process for the accounts receivable (A/R) team.
- Use a 30-60-90 day communication flow. A 30-day “gentle” reminder, a 60-day “firm” reminder and 90-day “final” reminder.
- Clarify with patients (past 90 days) the unfortunate alternative of forwarding their account to a debt collections firm.
4-Make the most of technology solutions
A/R technology, such as electronic billing and using a data analytics dental dashboard, can support your collections process:
- Electronic billing gives patients a secure and convenient way to track their account and make payments.
- Data analysis can be attached to your practice financials. Using a capable dental dashboard, team members can monitor and track payment data and establish necessary follow-up timelines.
- Collections processes can be automated to include patient reminders. This saves time on the phone or creating and sending related emails.
Speaking of technology solutions — the following resources can help you stay current and active around your dental practice financials (including collections):
- Factors That Help Align Your Dental Practice Collection to Production Ratios
- Test Drive: Software Simplifies the Business Side of Dentistry
- How to Get on the Solution-Side of Your Dental Practice Aging Report Data
Use capable data analytics tools to keep your dental practice on track financially
The Jarvis Analytics platform helps assure that you’re tracking the important metrics and staying on track with your goals as your dental practice and/or DSO grows and expands.
Experience Jarvis in action. Request a demo today!
LIKE WHAT YOU SEE & READ?
Join thousands of other people, subscribe to our newsletter, and get valuable business tips delivered right to your inbox.