10 Tips for Getting Paid While Maintaining Positive Dental Patient Relationships!
Dental debt collection calls are oftentimes a dentist’s or dental office manager’s most dreaded task of the day. These patient communications can be uncomfortable, if not downright awkward, and can even jeopardize a valuable client relationship if not handled correctly. But the truth is, these calls don’t have to be a source of anxiety for you and your dental office’s administrative staff. There are ways to make the experience more positive for both you and your patients – so follow these simple strategies that not only improve the patient experience, but also increase your likelihood of obtaining payment!
Tips for Before You Pick Up the Phone
Tip #1: Have the bill on hand. Make sure you understand how much the patient currently owes, how much they have paid already, how long the balance has been past due, and if they have any other outstanding accounts. Providing precise and accurate information is a crucial step in facilitating patient payments.
Tip #2: Understand the patient’s insurance coverage. Were the dental services provided covered under the patient’s insurance policy? How much is the patient’s copay or deductible amount? Was the patient’s insurance denied or disputed?
Tip #3: Review the patient’s history of payment. Has he or she displayed a pattern of not paying on time or in full? Go through all the likely excuses for failed payment in your head beforehand and prepare your answers so you aren’t caught off guard!
Tips for During the Collection Call
Tip #4: Start the call with a smile on your face (as odd as it may sound) so as to maintain a positive, non-confrontational tone. It is important to build a positive rapport as quickly as possible so that the patient knows he is a valued and appreciated client.
Tip #5: Identify yourself right away and confirm that you have the correct person on the other end of the line. Explain the purpose of the call and go over all the available options the patient has for making payment.
Tip #6: Ask leading questions that will help tell you why the patient has failed to pay and whether he is likely to miss payment again in the future. Once you understand the reason for failed payment, obtaining payment or agreeing upon a payment plan will become much easier.
Tip #7: Be assertive, but not aggressive. Take control of the conversation and convey a sense of urgency to the patient by asking how he would like to pay today, and not if he would like to pay today.
Tip #8: Sell the patient on the value of paying off the bill. As discussed in a previous post, “the key to debt recovery is convincing people to want to pay, as opposed to telling them they have to pay.”
Tips for After You Hang Up
Tip #9: If a payment plan was agreed upon, mail the patient a confirmation of the new payment arrangement with the current balance and due date. It is also good practice to include a handwritten note thanking the patient for the cooperation and for his or her continued business.
Tip #10: Document the conversation. Keep a record of when the call took place, who the call was with, and what (payment) action was agreed upon by the patient. This will give you a better understanding of the status of your accounts receivable and will also be useful down the line if the account remains delinquent.
Use these 10 simple tips as a reference for every step of your dental collection calls. By approaching these conversations in a friendly manner and having all the relevant payment information on hand, you can make the dental patient billing and debt collection process simpler for both you and your patients.
And don’t forget, you provided a service to your patients and deserve to be paid in a timely manner! By following the strategies above, you should be well on your way to happier, faster-paying patients, and a healthier bottom line!
YOUR TURN: What is the hardest part about making patient collection calls? Do you find it is difficult to maintain a positive rapport with patients during these conversations? We want to hear from you!