Every dental practice knows how hectic the office can be. Between completing forms, staying on schedule, and keeping up with insurance requirements, the front office staff runs around every day trying to finish tasks while keeping the patients happy. Because of all the client-facing needs, billing issues usually take a backseat, which can be detrimental and a huge headache for management.
Here are five best practices to follow in order to streamline collections in your office and stay on top of billing.
1. Have a Well-Defined Billing Policy
This may seem like an obvious suggestion, but it is astonishing how many dental practices do not have a transparent billing policy that is easy for patients to understand. Without a set of guidelines to follow, employees will inevitably make decisions on their own, leading to inconsistency and confusion.
A billing policy should list the procedures that will be followed when patients are billed, such as what forms of payment are accepted, whether or not discounts are given, and how to handle disputed charges. The policy should be straightforward so that front desk staff doesn’t have to ask management billing questions regularly.
2. Train Your Staff on the Policy
Once you have created a billing policy, it is vital to train all of your staff to follow it. This includes everyone from the receptionist to the dental assistants. Staff should be familiar with the policy inside and out so that they can handle billing questions from patients. And billing training shouldn’t be a one-and-done task—it’s comprehensive, regular, and thorough.
3. Use a Patient Management/Dental Collections System
A dental collections management system is a great way to keep track of all of your patient’s information in one place. This will assist you in keeping up with their insurance coverage, appointment history, and treatment plans. An easily adopted, efficient software will also help you track down patients who have fallen behind on their payments and hold them responsible for what they owe.
4. Offer a Variety of Payment Options
Asking patients to pay in full before or after treatment is not always practical, especially if the patient has no insurance coverage. Make sure to offer various payment options for your patients, including credit/debit cards, cash or checks, and finance plans. Educating them on the possibilities instead of hitting them with a huge bill will increase accountability and let them know that you care about their health first.
5. Ask for Payment on the Day of Service
You would be surprised by how often dental administrative personnel let clients fall through the cracks as they leave the office. The best policy is to collect payment or the first payment (if they have a financial plan) on the spot.
This diligence helps ensure that you are not chasing payments after the fact and keeps your collections process running smoothly. It will also prevent awkward phone calls months down the road when you have to ask for overdue payment when you could’ve stopped the patient on the day of the procedure.
Collections can be a daunting task for any dental practice, but you can streamline the process and keep your office running smoothly by following these five simple tips.