The Herd

How to Handle Dental Collections

Old man talking to a dental receptionist.

Asking for payment may seem obvious. After all, it’s what keeps the lights on and the doors open. However, collecting from your patients can be easier said than done.

There are plenty of factors at play when it comes to ensuring payment from your clients, but if there is only one thing you might take away from this post, let it be setting your expectations to your patients.

By setting the proper expectations, you can start seeing more of your patients pay for their appointments on-time or even beforehand.

Create & Enforce a Financial Policy

When you open up your practice, one of the first things you should have is a fully formed financial policy. Creating a financial policy will not only help patients understand and adhere to your practices payment expectations, but it will also help your team become consistent when explaining what those expectations might be.

Your financial policy could include:

  • Types of payment you accept at your practice.
  • How your practice verifies insurance coverage. 
  • Criteria to help patients having financial hardships.

Your financial policy can also tell patients when they should consider financing their treatments to help pay their bills, or even what the procedure would be if you refer a patient’s account to a collections agency or a small claims court.

The more clarity your financial policy has, the better clients will understand your collection expectations.

Always Ask For Payment, Before & After the Appointment

You and your team should always be making a point that you expect payment. When the client books their appointment, ask about how they will be paying. This will keep your patients aware of the fact payment is expected even before they come in for their appointment.

It’s a good practice to note down how they might be paying, as well. By the time you complete your client’s appointment, you will already know the method they will pay with.

Incentives For Paying Early or On-Time

A great way to have patients pay upfront or before their appointment is to offer incentives for doing so. The best part about this is that you can create the incentives that are right for you and your practice.

Simple things like offering 5% off the total bill if it’s paid beforehand will allow patients the opportunity to save their money.

Collecting on Insurance Patients

As more and more people look for dental coverage in their insurance, it means practices will need to partner with insurance providers. However, to receive payment, you will need to submit perfect insurance claims as well as make sure your patient is aware of what their insurance does and doesn’t cover.

Making sure your patient knows what they can claim on their insurance shows a transparency everyone appreciates. After all, we’re here to help our patients.

Nobody likes filling out insurance claims, but it’s very important to make sure they are spotless. If there is one mistake made on your claim form, the insurance company will send back the claim to be reprocessed, costing you and your practice time and money. At the same time, procrastinating insurance claims is like procrastinating payment, which is never good for business.

Some of the best ways to make sure you’re dodging problems with insurance companies is to submit your claims daily, have multiple staff members read and review the claims, and to contact the insurance company immediately if their reimbursement is late.

Dentist talking with a patient in the exam chair.

Increase Payment Options

Another great way to make sure you’re collecting on more patients is to widen the variety of payment options you have available. Some of these options can include:

Credit Cards

When it comes to any big purchases, a lot of people might turn to their credit card for financial support. The downside for patients using credit cards are the fees attached to every transaction. However, these fees are small and do not compare to providing convenience to your patients.

Online Payment

Online payment is something still entirely new to a lot of practices. However, the reason as to why patients might pay online is similar to the reason why they may use credit cards: it’s simple and convenient. 

Cash Payment

We are slowly transitioning into a cashless world, but that doesn’t mean you should deny cash outright. Most patients won’t pay for their entire appointment in cash, but they may want to split their payments between cash and another option.

Third-Party Financing

Patients who might have trouble paying for their appointments upfront might find benefit breaking up their payments through an outside financing company. Financing companies can help patients pay upfront, saving you time and possible headaches down the road.

The 3-3-3 Method

It’s never easy trying to get a hold of a patient who has an outstanding bill. In fact, the chances of a patient paying after 60 days are generally not very good

If you are experiencing problems trying to get a hold of a patient or getting the responses you want from owing patients, you can implement the 3-3-3 method. This method employs consistent communication with the patient so they are always aware of the serious nature of having an outstanding payment.

  • Call your patient the first day they have an outstanding balance. If the first call doesn’t reach the patient, or you don’t get the answer you were hoping for, call them the next week, and the week after that.
  • If calling them doesn’t work, start emailing the patient each week for 3 weeks. Make sure you are using language that illustrates how serious the situation is.
  • After this, send a formal letter once a week for 3 weeks, reminding the patient of their legal obligation to provide payment. If payment still hasn’t been received, you can follow the steps necessary to involve a collection agency or a small claims court.

Running a Practice Isn’t Easy. Let Us Help!

RecallMax is dedicated to helping you make sure your practice is running as smoothly and as efficiently as possible. Our software can help keep track of patients and their collection status so you don’t ever have to be lost in your records again.

Book a free trial with us today!

Written by Jeff Barsotti

Vice President of Sales & Operations

Since his first day at RecallMax in 2011, Jeff has developed a deep passion for helping practice owners maximize their revenue through recall. As the mastermind behind our training curriculum, he has the unique ability to help people understand the how and why behind our best practices.

Jeff understands people in a way that so few do. As a leader, salesman, strategist, and marketer, Jeff never fails to find new and innovative ways to improve.

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