It’s understandable. You didn’t go to dental school so you could deal with accounts receivable. You just want to provide care to patients. But the truth is, to keep your doors open and continue to provide care, you need to collect the money patients owe you for services rendered.
It can be frustrating when patients don’t pay. And it affects the practice’s bottom line.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be difficult.
At Dental Practice Enhancement, we understand the importance of accounts receivable. We also know the secrets to improve your collections.
In this article, we will discuss 5 ways to streamline the process, including:
- Creating and communicating a financial policy
- Knowing how to discuss money conversations
- Decreasing denials from insurance companies and managing rejected claims
- Offering options to make it easier for patients to pay
- Providing quality services
Improve Accounts Receivables by Creating and Communicating a Financial Policy
If you don’t have a financial policy, it’s time to get one.
One important aspect of a financial policy is making sure your patients understand the need to pay for services right away. Before they leave your office. It should be clear that you expect payment at the time of service. This includes insured patients.
For big treatment plans, you should offer financing options (keep reading to learn more).
Once you decide on your policies, make sure to distribute it to all patients. Also, be sure your team members review it and answer questions for patients who need treatment. This ensures clarification and eliminates confusion when it’s time for them to make a payment.
Avoid being too strict, as this can cost you patients. On the flip side, don’t be too lenient. If you are, patients are more likely to avoid paying.
Remain consistent. The policy should be the same for all your patients. There may be times an exception is needed, but this should be rare.
Bottom line: A well-written policy that patients understand before undergoing treatment will ensure timely payments and help your team members deal with patient excuses.
Increase Accounts Receivable by Knowing How to Discuss Money Conversations
Money conversations can be awkward and uncomfortable. But they must occur.
In fact, a patient receives an average of four money conversations for each treatment plan. These conversations about finances generally take place during scheduling, at check-in, in the treatment room, and during check-out.
Have you ever noticed that some team members are better equipped at handling these conversations?
The key is training and understanding the steps that can improve these conversations.
Some of the techniques that can help include:
- Be upfront with patients about treatment plans. Providing details and ensuring patients understand the importance of the treatment go far.
- Take the time to discuss all the patient’s concerns. When you rush patients, they can feel like you are trying to confuse them or “pull a fast one.” When team members give them the time they need, patients feel like they have advocates. Trust increases, which allows them to hear why the treatment is so important to their oral health. These interactions may take a few minutes, but what is that amount of time when it comes to building trust? Make sure your team understands the importance of taking their time and speaking with your patients as if they were their best friend.
- Don’t just tell. Show. Use office technology to show the patient their story. When patients see visuals, they are more likely to understand the need for treatment and feel good about spending the necessary money.
- Give details about what insurance covers. Many patients think they understand what their insurance covers, but they don’t understand about tiers, copays, allowances, limitations, and deductibles. Don’t let them be surprised by the bill. Give them the facts upfront.
Improve Receivables by Decreasing and Managing Insurance Denials
Rejected claims delay the cash flow and accounts receivable. If your practice deals with rejections, it is important to get to the root cause and find answers. Believe it or not, it is possible to put strategies in place that will achieve a 98-100 percent claims acceptance.
Train team members to ensure the proper codes and any pertinent documents accompany all insurance claims. Doing this before submitting a claim helps ensure acceptance.
Consider insurance verification technology that will allow your team to know upfront which codes require attachments. Have them check and re-check requirements before submitting each code. The extra few minutes will save a lot of time in the end and makes revenue flow more efficient and proficient.
Increase Accounts Receivable by Offering Easy Options for Payments
Does your practice offer third party financing? If not, it should.
The biggest reason patients don’t pay or refuse recommended treatment is the inability to afford it. Options such as CareCredit are a win/win. You get paid right away, and the patient has the freedom to make smaller monthly payments.
At the very least, you should offer payment plans. Dentistry can be expensive. You don’t want your patients to decline treatment based solely on the fact that they can’t afford it.
You also want to accept as many forms of payment as possible. Don’t make it too difficult for your patients by only accepting your preferred method of payments. Many patients prefer online payments, eChecks, credit cards, FSA and HSA accounts, and ACH payments. The more flexible you are, the more payments you will receive.
Consider a “thank you” bookkeeping adjustment for patients who pay in total upfront. When patients pay upfront, it makes everyone’s lives easier. Offer your patients an incentive to pay for an expensive treatment in its entirety beforehand. This isn’t a “discount” but a fee adjustment. You’d be surprised what patients will do to receive a 10 percent discount.
Increase Accounts Receivable by Providing Quality Services
Have you ever had a patient who received an expensive treatment try to get out of paying by complaining about something?
Keep your patients happy.
When patients complain about things, whether legitimate or not, it can be hard to collect from them.
Ensure their entire experience is professional, caring, and top-notch. Don’t make patients wait too long. For those who do have to wait, make sure they have amenities, such as Wi-Fi, magazines, charging stations, and refreshments. Have the front office team keep them updated.
Make sure the reception area, patient bathroom, and treatment areas are clean.
When patients have a great experience in your practice, they are more likely to pay their bills. And the fact is, there are many patients out there who are looking for an excuse not to pay. Don’t give them one.
This is why training your team to respect patients and keep them happy is so important.
Is it time to get some help with accounts receivable?
At Dental Practice Enhancement, we know all the ins and outs of collecting money. We can train your team and give you all the tools you need.
Why wait to improve the bottom line of your dental practice?
Call us at (833) 373-3678 or contact us online today for your consultation.