Ask any dentistry business and they will tell you that collections are a priority. It is quite a simple process, your practice provides dental care, and the patient should pay through their own money, insurance co-pays, etc., for the rendered services. Unfortunately, it is a struggle to chase down patients and insurance companies who owe money that later becomes an exhausting process. Sometimes inaccurately pre-judging the patient imperils the practice’s financial health. And the result is an increased billing expense, uncollectible debt, and constrained cash flow, making it difficult to invest in new systems and equipment. Asking a few simple questions like what percentage of fees should be collected, is every patient eligible for outside financing, what is the receivable past due day, can help your practice collection. Below are a few ways to collect a higher percentage of fees without any difficulties.
Create a standard procedure to communicate payment policies:
Establishing written payment policies relating to the collection activity will help the patients fulfill their obligations. Increased emphasis should be on the scripts in use to boost over-the-counter collection. This also makes it easier to discuss with no confusion about payment expectations. To create a standard payment policy, if your practice does not have one, include the acceptable payment options, financing options, payment due date, past-due payment policies, and when and how to send statements. This will make it easy for the patients to cover their bills. Furthermore, discuss and review the policies before going forward with the treatment to avoid any later confusion. Make sure your team acknowledges your financial guidelines to assist patients with the payment policies. In case of exceptions, train your team accordingly.
Submit Insurance Claims per diem:
For seeking in-office billing, it is recommended to submit the claim forms daily once double-checked to avoid any further delays in receiving payments from the insurance companies. An excellent way to improve your collections is to ensure that you receive an alert for all your overdue payments.
Ask patients for the initial payment on their appointments:
Understandably, you want to be flexible, but do not delay the process of paying the fees at the time of assistance. This is why you should have a clear payment policy. Ensure that the patients are familiar with their plan in terms of co-pays and other upfront fees if any.
Provide Payment Options:
Rather than letting your relationship with your patient take a back seat, offer them various payment options to strengthen your practice in the long run. You can provide the following payment options like cash, check, partial payment before treatment or at the time of service. Other options are credit card, bank card, monthly payments via internal funding, monthly payments via an outside fund. To enhance your practice’s profitability, be flexible, yet too many payment options can be an administrative burden that doesn’t help you get paid on time. In consideration of patient loyalty to improve your A/R status, it is recommendable to provide a fee adjustment of approximately 3-6% which can definitely be a sweet spot.
Make time for Follow-ups:
Allocating time to address all follow-ups on payments helps prevent this activity from taking a back seat. Without consistently following-up with the patients and the insurance companies collecting overdue fees becomes a major problem. As per studies,for each 90 days past due amount, an account loses 7% value per month. Moreover, 12 months past due date, the practice loses more in terms of supplies, labor, and stamps than the amount the patient owes the practice. Handling follow-ups are the financial administrators’ responsibility. Use the four-notice technique, where your staff sends a current statement on their outstanding balances. If this doesn’t work, the team should send a gentle reminder after 30 days of the due payment. A firmly worded letter with a polite phone call is a best practice after 60 days if it persists. Finally, after 90 days, send a formal past-due notice. Usually, it produces results, but if it does not work, proceed to a debt collector.
Improving collections is vital as well as labor-intensive. Patients don’t pay on time because they can’t afford it. To get uninterrupted fees collections and a loyal client base; consider outsourcing. It is vital to include a third-party revenue cycle management team to handle while you spend time with patients.