The 1 Simple Tip that sends Dental Debt Recovery Rates Skyrocketing!
As any dental debt collection professional will tell you, oftentimes the most difficult part of recovering a past due account is simply getting the responsible payer on the phone. Many times, important contact information like the individual’s current phone number or address will either be inaccurate or outdated – making it nearly impossible for the collector to make contact and obtain payment.
Another accounts receivable problem facing many businesses, especially healthcare providers, is insurance denials and disputes. Either a patient is unaware of his insurance coverage and does not know how much of the bill he is personally responsible for, or the patient’s insurance does not cover the services provided at all!
To combat these issues, many dentists and dental office managers are using a more front-end approach to dental collections – and are finding that doing so is saving them valuable amounts of time and money! A front-end collections approach simply means increasing collection efforts early in the patient payment process (i.e. before service).
So what do we mean by increasing collection efforts?
Dental collection efforts or collection activity does not always mean obtaining payment, or even asking for payment. Front-end collection efforts involve collecting information, as opposed to collecting money. For dentists and dental office managers, the critical pieces of information to collect (every time a patient walks through your door!) are patient demographic information, a picture of the patient’s financial status, and the patient’s insurance coverage.
While this step may seem obvious, patient demographic information frequently changes, and many dental practices fail to regularly confirm their patient’s contact information – like phone number and current billing address. Make it a habit that whenever a patient checks-in, a member of your administrative staff confirms with them their current phone number, home or billing address, and even place of employment. By consistently updating and verifying this important information, you can be confident that you will always be able to communicate with a patient right away over an unpaid bill, and will have fewer accounts become delinquent as a result of being unable to locate or contact one of your patients.
Patient Insurance Coverage and Financials
As the healthcare insurance environment continues to become more and more complex, both the level of patient responsibility and number of insurance disputes are likely to increase. For this reason, verifying your patient’s insurance coverage before providing service is a critical step to take towards reducing bad debt. Confirm with each of your patients which services are covered by their insurance, how much the patient is responsible for in co-pays and deductibles, and their coverage limits. By educating your patients on their insurance policies, you will not only increase your likelihood of being paid for that day’s service, but for all future visits as well. The dental industry loses millions of dollars every year due to insurance denials, but by placing great importance on confirming your patients’ insurance coverage early in the payment process, you can be well on your way to minimizing disputes and maximizing revenue!
In a previous post titled, Why Credit Checks Are Key to Successful Dental Collections, we discussed how many dentists are taking advantage of credit checks to gain a better understanding of their patient’s financial status and their payment risk as a potential customer. By analyzing a potential patient’s credit history and credit score, you can effectively screen out potentially risky patients and get a better idea of the financial situation of your patient base. Check out the post for more information on the credit screening process and how you can use it to enhance your dental debt collection efforts.
To summarize: Take the time to verify your patients’ demographic, insurance, and financial information before their accounts become past due. By having this information on hand and gaining a clear understanding of the patient you are dealing with, the collection process will go much smoother, and hopefully, never need to take place at all!
YOUR TURN: Like most dental practices, have you traditionally focused your collection efforts on the back-end of the patient payment process? Do you think being more diligent about gathering and confirming patient contact and insurance information will reduce delinquencies and save you money in the long run? We want to hear your thoughts!