3 Simple Tips for Writing the Perfect Dental Billing Statement!
As a busy dentist or dental office manager, you likely have not put a whole lot of thought into how your patient billing statements are crafted – or what information is critical to include/omit from these (important!) documents. In fact, odds are your billing statements look something like this:
You‘ve included the basic information about your office (name, address, phone number) and a brief summary of the patient’s bill, including the amount owed and the terms of payment (date of service, payment due date etc.). And while all of this is essential information to provide in your billing statements, there is still a lot more you can do to make the payment process simpler, more convenient, and more enjoyable for your patients. After all, the purpose of the billing statement is to (spoiler alert!) get your patients to actually pay for the dental services you provided.
So make paying as easy as possible by using these three simple tips for writing the perfect dental billing statement:
Tip #1: Add a Section to Pay Via Credit Card
The biggest change you can make to your billing statements that will encourage patients to pay literally the moment they open their bill, is to add a section for paying by credit card. As you can see in the billing statement pictured above, the patient needs to deduce that in order to pay their bill they must fill out and mail a check to the address provided. This is a bad method for obtaining payment for TWO reasons. First, there are no written directions in the billing statement that explains exactly how a patient should make payment. Not even a mention of “make checks payable to” or “send checks to” or any description at all of how to pay. The patient needs to essentially figure out the entire payment process on their own, and while this may seem obvious, this extra work CAN cause confusion and a delay in payment.
The second reason paying by check is a poor method for obtaining payment is simple. It’s slow! Patients need to first find their checkbook (which have become less and less relevant in today’s age of credit cards and electronic payment methods), and then take the time to fill out and mail the check itself. This process wastes valuable amounts of time, and is simply an inefficient method for processing patient payments.
So you may be asking yourself, “What can I do to speed up this process?” There is a simple and easy-to-implement solution. Pay by credit card!
Add a section in your billing statements that allows patients to fill out their credit card information and pay directly on the statement itself. By doing so, patients simply need to reach into their wallet and fill out a few lines of credit card details and pop the statement and envelope (make sure to include!) back in the mail. No phone calls, no writing checks, and very little time or effort. The payment process will be easier, quicker, and as a result – you will get paid faster!
Tip #2: Provide a Better Explanation of Charges and Emphasize Payment Due Date
There are two more areas that we believe the billing statement above could improve in. The first mistake is that the statement provides little to no detail as to what services the patient is being charged for. As is common with dental billing statements, the bill simply provides an invoice number and describes the bill as “Balance Forward.” The patient responsible for paying is offered zero information as to what service or appointment the bill is in regards to, and may feel uneasy or hesitant to pay for a service to which they know so little about. For this reason, it is helpful to describe the actual services provided in your billing statements. Was it a routine cleaning? Was it for cavity work or a filling? Write out the details of the service provided in your billing statements so that your patients will feel confident that they’re paying the right amount for the right care.
The next thing the above billing statement does wrong is that the payment due date is far too vague. It states (in small print) that the balance is “due in 30 days.” But 30 days from when? 30 days from the date of service? 30 days from the date of receipt? Again the patient is left with inadequate information for paying his or her bill. Instead, provide a clear due date for when payment must be made. And don’t put this critical detail in the fine print. Make it obvious. As an example, you could state, “Payment is due by 2/1/2014 will be considered past due if paid after this date.” This will send a clear message to your patients and will relieve them of all confusion of when payment must be made.
Tip #3: Include a “Personalized” Note
The last thing we suggest to include in your dental billing statements is a “hand written” note thanking the patient for their prompt payment and ongoing business. In reality these can simply be photocopied notes that are included with every one of your billing statements – but the extra effort will still be appreciated by your patients. Be sure to thank the patient for choosing you as their dentist and that they are a valued client and you look forward to providing care for them in the future. This will personalize your billing statements and will not only make your patients happier to pay their bill, but will also make your patients feel less like just a customer and more like a valued member of your client base – which they are!
As previously discussed, the key to dental collections is to make the patient payment process as simple and convenient as possible. So use these tips to improve your patient billing statements and make the extra effort to ensure your patients know exactly what to do when they receive a bill in the mail. You’ll be surprised at the difference it can make to your bottom line!
YOUR TURN: What do you currently include in your patient billing statements? Is there anything we mentioned that you are forgetting? Or is there something we forgot? Let us know in the comments!