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While not a pleasant task, establishing processes to ensure consistency in your collection processes and organization in your tracking and communications will ultimately lead to improved financial health for your practice.
One of the biggest hurdles that any dental practice faces is collecting payments from patients. The bottom line-and I’ve heard this reiterated time and time again by leading dental coaches across the country-it is always best to collect payments at the time of service.
Even if you will be filing with insurance, you should collect the patient’s estimated portion while they are right there in front of you. Although this sounds simple, it is surprising how many practices do not follow this simple guideline.
Unfortunately, there are some cases where you have an account that has not been paid even after services were rendered and you’ve been told “the check’s in the mail”. When do you make the first contact for an overdue account?
Most dental consultants will tell you that when a patient account hits the 30-day mark, it is past due, and a gentle reminder should be sent, or a call made to notify the patient of their overdue account status.
This is not a pleasant task, but it is reality that at some point, you or someone else in your office is going to have to pick up the phone and call someone to kindly, but firmly request payment for services rendered.
Here is some guidance on how to make these conversations easier on yourself, your staff and the patients you serve:
1. Make sure that before treatment is rendered, patients have been informed of, and have agreed to your financial policies.
2. If you must call to collect on an overdue account balance, develop a script (or a series of scripts) and make sure that the person responsible for collections calls is well-trained on the process.
3. Be prepared to handle objections before you dial the phone number. (This should be part of the scripting mentioned above.)
4. Document every conversation thoroughly and include specific dates/times of follow-up calls and future communication activities or payments scheduled.
5. Make it easy for your patients to pay by offering flexibility in payment options including financing options, payment plans, membership programs, etc.
6. Smile and dial
Collecting past due payments is something no one really enjoys. While it can feel personal, remember, this is a business where two parties engaged in a business relationship to exchange services for payment. It’s that simple.
The end goal is to collect what you have earned for the care that has been or will be provided. Establishing processes to ensure consistency in your collection processes and organization in your tracking and communications will ultimately lead to improved financial health for your practice.