One of the things I talked about in my last article was bringing better verbal skills around the area of accounts receivable in the dental practice. Depending on your personality type and comfort level, talking about money can be one of those topics you avoid. I have always been comfortable with talking about money, but I understand if it is not your favorite subject.
Collections in the dental practice is a team sport and everyone must become comfortable with some aspects of the collection process. Probably the most important aspect that every team member can participate in is collecting on the day of service. Just this one simple task will prevent your patient accounts receivable from getting into the overdue column.
If I worked in your practice, there would be two protocols we would never break. These protocols would ensure that your patients were prepared for their out-of-pocket expenses and your team was prepared to collect it.
Being prepared for your patients next visit isn’t hard … it just takes discipline.
The first protocol happens before the patient is scheduled for treatment. Helping your patients understand their dental benefits and estimating the patient out of pocket is important to be transparent about your fees. No matter if you are in-network or out of network with the patient’s dental plan, you will need to determine what to collect on the day of service. Like I mentioned above, collecting on the day of service is the most important task to avoid overdue balances.
Estimating the patient’s out of pocket is a personal choice for your practice. You can choose to use your in-network fee schedules to estimate as accurately as possible or you can choose to give a more general estimate. Also, if you are out of network, you can build your payment table in Dentrix to estimate based on past insurance payments. Whichever option you choose, I want you train your entire team on the process.
When the day of service arrives and the patient is scheduled for treatment, have a plan in place so every team member is aware of what to collect today. My recommendation after you have presented the financial arrangement to your patient is document the patient co-pay in the note box of the appointment. This is a great spot because it is easily accessible to the team, prints on the Route Slip and will give everyone one single place to look for collecting money.
Add these two processes into your standard operating procedure guidelines and you will be more prepared to talk with patients about money and avoid the headache of chasing money.