Dental practice accounting tip: Get a grip on receivables
Learning to run your dental practice like a business can be an obstacle for dentists who have recently taken the plunge and purchased or opened their own office.
If your accounts receivables list looks like it belongs to a loan officer, it might be time to revamp your collection process.
Changing your mindset
There’s a difference between being understanding of patients going through financial hardship and allowing unpaid bills to remain so indefinitely.
Be kind, but negotiate and define reasonable payment terms ahead of time. Work out any discount you’re willing to provide in advance and lay out a payoff schedule.
An alternative strategy for dealing with patients who need to finance their treatment is to use a third-party service.
For a small percentage of your margin you can hand off the lending to a company that specializes in financing dental procedures. You can even work with a number of different services to provide greater options to your patients.
Underestimate insurance payments
Incorrectly estimating how much a patient’s insurance will pay is commonplace in the medical profession. Hedge your bets by overestimating how much a patient’s portion of the bill will be. It’s easier to send a refund out to patients who have overpaid than it is to issue a new invoice on a procedure they thought was already paid for.
Ask for full payment on the day of treatment
Don’t offer terms until the patient specifies that they won’t be able to pay in full on the day of their appointment. You may be surprised how many patients will hand over their credit card if you don’t immediately offer other options.
A prepaid discount
Patients without insurance are the most likely to generate bad debt for your practice. They’re also the most likely to secure a discount when given the chance. Offer patients a significant price advantage for paying in advance and you may start to see a huge decrease in your receivables.
Take turns manning the phone
Have your hygienist or other staff members take turns calling patients who are past due. People respond differently to diverse personality types. There are even third-party services that can make the calls for you.
Open a web payment portal
By offering payments online, you allow patients to pay what they can without telling someone face-to-face that they are unable to make the full payment.
Smile and be friendly
It’s easier to collect from those who feel that they have a relationship with you. Build a strong rapport with your patients and they’ll likely do their very best to pay on time.