Collections is a team sport and one of the most important cross-training activities you can do in your dental practice and your Dentrix software is teach everyone on the team to collect the patient co-pay today. Like I said in my last article, almost every patient will have a co-pay if you are treating patients comprehensively because insurance plans in today’s world are not built to pay for optimum care.
I remember I was working with a dental team who treats every adult with fluoride and, of course, the hygienists always get asked the question, “Does my insurance pay for that?” When the office first started adding fluoride to every patient visit, they would have the admin team check on the patient’s insurance benefits to see if it was covered. However, they quickly found out that this was not sustainable in a busy practice. The doctor asked me if there was a faster way to check on the insurance benefits and my response was why don’t we just tweak the response back to the patient.
Instead of the team taking time to check on the $35 fluoride with the insurance plan, the hygienists now respond with, “I am not sure if your plan will cover it. What I do know is the most you will have out of pocket today is $35.” Then, let the patient decide if $35 is worth the benefits that fluoride provides. It was beautiful.
We can take this same type of attitude with all patient treatment and removing the insurance conversation. What patients care about is what their out-of-pocket investment is, they really don’t want to get bogged down in the details of their insurance plan. If you continue to itemize out your fee, the insurance estimate, and the patient portion, then it creates questions … and then someone has to answer those questions. If you want to empower anyone on the team to have treatment plan conversations with your patients, your estimates need to be easy to read and eliminate confusion.
I challenge you to think about the possibility of tweaking your verbal skills and the visual aspects of your treatment estimates for patients. Let me know how your team responds to this small change in your conversations with patients.
Now, the other part of collecting the patient’s co-pay on the day of service is making sure the entire team is on board with who owes money today. You can use a couple of different techniques in your Dentrix software as a visual to flag the patients who owe money today. I love the idea of adding a note in the appointment because it is easy to find and it will show on the Route Slip if you are using them in your office. You can remind everyone during the morning huddle to check the appointment note before they dismiss their patient and double-check the patient co-pay for today.