While most patients promptly pay for the services you provide, there are some who put it off as long as possible. Typically, these patients don’t understand the value of dentistry, which is where education comes in. That combined with a clear financial policy will help boost your collections rate.
If improving collections seems overwhelming, don’t worry. I’ve put together a few more tips that will help get you started:
Make it clear when payment is due. Through your financial policy, you should collect most, if not all, of what a patient owes before he or she leaves the practice. If you allow patients to carry balances, I suggest you establish parameters—and stick to them. Extending credit to patients indefinitely just creates a liability for your practice. Instead, decide how long you’re willing to wait for payment and then communicate that to your patients.
This can be difficult, but resist the temptation to make exceptions for family and friends. Sure, it might feel good helping loved ones, but you’re also undermining the practice’s ability to develop an effective financial policy.
Give patients options. While you want to make it clear when payment is expected, don’t develop a policy that’s too strict. If you only accept a few payment methods and certain insurance, it becomes difficult for patients to pay. Offer flexible options, like third party financing from CareCredit, and more patients will say yes to the treatment you recommend and promptly pay you for it. On the other hand, you don’t want to offer too many options. Having a large menu of payment plans just leads to confusion, so keep it simple.
Don’t accept posted-dated checks. While this might be convenient for your patients, it’s not good for your practice. You’ll end up with a lot of money sitting around in the drawer rather than going to the bank.
Get on the phone. Once a patient’s statement is 31 days past due, have your Financial Coordinator give that patient a call. Put together a script and train your Financial Coordinator on how to properly handle these types of conversations.
Getting collections under control can be challenging, but following these tips will help improve your cash flow and reduce the number of overdue bills your practice deals with each month.