Would you like to see an increase in production and office collections? Would you like to decrease the amount of time and money being spent on chasing past-due patient and insurance balances? Great news, I can help you!
What do your past-due accounts receivable look like? The accounts receivable (A/R) balance is the amount owed to your office for services already provided (and paid for by you!), but not yet collected from the insurance company and/or patient.
A healthy dental office will have an accounts-receivable ratio of 1.0, meaning your total accounts receivable are equal to your average monthly production. What does your A/R ratio look like?
How about your 90-day Collection Percentage on both Gross and Net Production? How much of your production are you collecting and how much are you writing off?
Sadly, I far too often see dentists working harder than ever with very little to show for their work. During my in-office coaching visits, we quickly discover that in most cases solid collection protocols are lacking.
Today, I’ll share with you a few tips to help you increase office collections and clean up unhealthy accounts receivable.
- See the true value of dentistry – With each day and each patient you and your team have the privilege and opportunity to potentially change someone’s life or at the very least, help them smile healthier. A healthy smile is part of a healthy body, healthy smiles and bodies create healthy communities. The entire team must believe this. The entire team must also wholly believe that you’re providing the best quality care. Having full confidence in the doctors’ and hygienists’ ability to provide quality care and create beautiful and healthy smiles is a must. Give every patient the opportunity to say yes or no to your very best care!
- Be confident with fees – The entire team should role play presenting small and large treatment plans and financial arrangements until everyone is comfortable saying the dollar amounts out loud and with pride.
- Financial Guidelines & Expectations – Have written financial guidelines that are kindly reviewed with the patient at their first appt. Have them sign and take a copy with them. For your existing patients, review with them any changes to your financial expectations, have them sign, and give them a copy to take home.
- Avoid assumptions and judgment – Don’t make decisions for the patient as to whether they can afford the treatment based on your assumptions or reality. Always offer the best treatment and flexible payment options and allow the patient to decide what they want to accept or not.
- No surprises! – Present the patient’s treatment plan and estimated financial portion before treatment is started. If you accept and/or participate with their insurance, have up-to-date eligibility, a breakdown of benefits, and the insurance fee schedule on file for the patient and enter into your practice management software.
- Payment is due before or on the day of service – No billing the patient for co-pays or payment for services. (Hint: Collecting prior to appt. will reduce cancellations and no-shows. Another Hint: If you didn’t collect at the time of scheduling, collect their portion before the patient goes back for treatment, especially if they’re having a lengthy or difficult appt.)
- Make it easy for them to pay – In addition to accepting cash, check, and charge cards, offer third-party financing. Avoid in-office payment plans!
- Offer online payment options– allow your patients the convenience to make payments online. (This way, while you and your team are sleeping you’re collecting payments from your night-owl patients 😉 )
- Dealing with forgetful patients – When a patient says they forgot to bring money…they can either call the payment in over the phone when they get home or give them an envelope with a payment due date for them to mail in a check. Call the patient if payment isn’t received by the due date. Better yet, send them a text/email to pay link so they can easily and quickly take care of the balance online.
- When Insurance is involved – Always give the full treatment fee, the estimated insurance amount, and the patient’s estimated portion that is due today. Let the patient know you’ll send in the claim and inform them if anything changes with the estimated insurance portion. Reminder: Collecting co-pays on the day of service is an insurance requirement. Tip: Watch your insurance aging report closely. Promptly follow up on any unpaid claims, insurance rejections, and requests for add’l information.
There you have it, 10 tips to successfully collect payment before or at the time of service.
Once you plan to consistently collect payments before or at the time of service and hold your team accountable to follow through with that plan, you’ll wish you started it sooner. Don’t wait, start today to implement these changes.
Here are a few more tips to help make this a true success for you and enjoy healthy accounts receivable.
- Daily, Weekly, and Monthly monitor your patient and insurance accounts receivable, collection, and credit reports. (Carefully review write-offs, discounts, credits, charges, and payments.)
- Avoid “Statement Groundhog Day” – Stop sending statement after statement to patients that are past due on making a payment. They ignore them and it costs you a lot of money. Get collection letters out and make some calls.
- ALWAYS send out clean insurance claims! If your administrative team needs any training in this ever-changing insurance world with how to estimate co-pays, send out claims (daily), and post insurance payments, and adjustments…get them the proper training asap!
- Insurance Claims Aging Report – Run your insurance aging report and start from the oldest and work down to the current claims… how old are some of those claims? What is the status of the claims? Where is your money? Now is a great time to clean up that report.
- Don’t assume… know by who, when, what, and how your money is being handled. It’s important for the entire team to understand why this information is necessary.
- Set goals, share with your team what your production and collection goals are and how it benefits them to all work together as a team to reach or exceed these goals. Consider offering a small bonus or incentive when these goals are reached.
- Benchmarks – Do you and your team know what healthy benchmarks they’re striving for? If not, establish those benchmarks and get everyone on the same page.
Print out these tips and suggestions and review them at your next team meeting.
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Friends, if your office is struggling with collections or out-of-control accounts receivable please don’t wait to seek help. The longer that money sits out there the less you collect. You deserve to be paid for the amazing dental care you provide. If you’re unsure where or how to get started – feel free to reach out to me for a complimentary 30-minute consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Yours for Greater Success,
~Betty – Dental Coach
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