3 Effective Strategies for Faster Dental Debt Collection Recovery!
As a busy dental office manager, collecting past-due bills from slow paying patients is one of the trickiest parts of your job. On the one hand, turning your accounts receivables into revenue is crucial to your dental practice’s success; and on the other, maintaining positive relationships with your patients is equally as important. The key to reducing delinquencies and avoiding bad debt is to give your patients options and to keep them educated and aware of their financial obligations and their options for payment. To make things easier, here are three proven strategies for getting patients to pay on time and in full!
Strategy #1: Educate Patients on the Billing Process in Advance
The most obvious way to reduce patient delinquencies and past-due accounts is to prevent patients from becoming late in the first place. Oftentimes patients will fail to pay their bill because they didn’t understand the dental office’s payment and billing processes. For this reason, dentists and dental office managers should always be sure to thoroughly explain the billing process, the patient’s payment options and bill details before providing service. Make sure your billing statements are easy to understand and that important information like the total amount owed, how much is covered by insurance, and when the bill is due is made obvious. Also, don’t waste any time in billing your patients. If you expect to get paid on time, you need to bill on time! Send invoices as soon as the account is due and if payment is not received by the due date, call the patient immediately to find out why he or she has failed to pay.
Strategy #2: Provide Payment Plans and Incentivize Early Payments
One of the most effective and patient-friendly solutions for getting a delinquent patient to pay their bill is to offer them a payment plan. Set up an arrangement where the patient pays a specified amount each week or each month to help lighten the expense if they are struggling financially or simply cannot afford to settle their dental bill in full at that time. Some other examples of common payment plans are installment plans, partial payment plans or deferred payment options. Also don’t be hesitant to incentivize early payments. Reward those patients who pay early by discounting a small percentage off their bill when payment is received before the bill comes due. Doing so can go a long way in preventing late payments and can effectively strengthen patient relationships as well.
Strategy #3: Avoid Insurance Disputes
Patients often simply do not understand their dental insurance policies, the scope of their coverage, and the amount they are responsible for in premiums and deductibles. Unfortunately for dentists, this often means patients fail to pay their portion of their dental bill because they don’t understand how much money they actually owe. As a dentist or dental office manager, it is in your best interest to inform patients of their insurance policies to avoid needless coverage disputes and insufficient payments. And since the economy is still struggling and more people are being dropped from insurance plans or being forced to pay higher premiums and deductibles, this problem is not likely to go away any time soon. Make it a habit in your dental practice to go over all patient’s insurance coverage before providing service or initiating the billing process. It will save you a lot in headaches (and unpaid bills!) down the road.
So be proactive in your billing and collection processes. Recovering delinquent debt in the dental industry will always be a difficult task, but by following these three simple strategies you should be well on your way to reduced bad debt, happier patients, and increased profitability.
YOUR TURN: Are you using a proactive or reactive approach to dental collections? What strategies have worked best for your practice? We’d love to hear from you!