Why a Paper-Less Approach to Patient Billing Gets Dentists Paid Faster!
As discussed in a previous post, dentists can save patients valuable amounts of time and effort during the bill pay process by providing an electronic payment portal for patients to pay their bills online. But how can an electronic-based approach to patient billing be applied to save dentists time and effort during collections? One simple change dentists can make is to move the entire billing process online by sending patients billing statements via email, as opposed to the traditional method of paper mail.
So how does sending billing statements via email save dentists time and effort (and money!)?
First of all, this approach should strictly be offered as an option for your patients, and not as the only means for receiving their bills. Some patients will not have an email address that they regularly check, or may simply prefer to receive their bills via regular mail. But encourage your patients to adapt this electronic-based method of billing so that you can send your bills out faster, patients receive their bills sooner, and as a result, you get paid quicker! Some dentists need to charge their patients slightly extra to cover the costs of mailing paper billing statements – so incentivize your patients to make the switch by waiving this fee if they sign up to receive bills online.
How do dentists switch to an electronic-based billing system?
The first step of implementing this new system is to gather the necessary contact information (i.e. email addresses) from those patients who choose to receive their bills via email. Make it a habit to confirm the patient’s current email address when the patient is checking in for his or her appointment or after the patient has received treatment. Then immediately following service, have whoever is in charge of patient billing email the patient his or her billing statement so that the billing and payment process begins as quickly as possible.
By moving this process online, dentists will reduce billing costs by needing less paper, postage, envelopes, etc. and will also decrease the amount of time and labor required to send a patient’s bill (that is required when sending paper billing statements). We’re confident your staff will appreciate not having to stuff countless envelopes and will enjoy the ease and convenience of sending a bill with just a click of a button.
But while sending patients bills via email does streamline the billing process and making sending/receiving billing statements easier for you and your patients, this approach does not come without its drawbacks.
What is the downside of sending bills via email? What are the risks?
From the patient’s perspective, there are a couple reasons why receiving an electronic-billing statement may complicate the payment process. As you likely experience yourself, your patients get a LOT of emails everyday – much more than the amount of paper mail they receive on a daily basis. From important work emails to annoying advertisements, inboxes just seem to be constantly filling up. So without a physical bill as a reminder, patients may lose track of a dental bill in the midst of all the chaos. This could result in a missed or forgotten payment, meaning you getting paid slower, which completely goes against the point! So remind patients of this risk when they switch to electronic billing and make sure they use an email address that they check regularly and keep a close eye on.
Also don’t forget to tell patients to add you as a contact so that bills aren’t accidentally marked as spam and never make it to the patient’s inbox. After all, if a patient isn’t aware that they received a bill, what are the odds of you getting paid on time? So make sure your billing statements aren’t landing in your patient’s spam folders. And if a patient changes email address, you need to know about it! This is why we always tell dentists to verify and confirm patients’ contact information (billing address, phone number, email) every time a patient comes in for an appointment. Doing so will improve your collection performance and strengthen your bottom line more than you can imagine.
So weigh the pros and cons of moving your patient billing process online and consider getting rid of those annoying envelopes. We believe sending billing statements via email not only saves dentists time, effort, and money on the front end – but also gets dentists paid faster on the back end.
YOUR TURN: Do you agree? Have you considered a paper-less approach to your billing processes? What are some other pros and cons of sending billing statements and invoices to patients via email as opposed to via regular mail? We’d love to hear your thoughts!
No Legal Advice Intended: This communication is for informational purposes only and is not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. This communication does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and I.C. System, Inc. You should contact an attorney for advice on specific legal issues.