Stay ahead of dental office debt collection by having procedures in place that thoroughly inform patients of your practice’s billing process and by following up immediately with any past due accounts.
As trained medical professionals, dentists like you want to ensure that patients experience as little pain as possible. However, dental practice business owners often experience a great deal of pain when it comes to dental office debt collection. While debt collection is a part of every business, it can be especially detrimental to dental practices that let it spiral out of control. Without a deliberate plan for debt collection, operational funds can get extremely tight. By following some practical steps, you can ensure that your accounts receivable processes are painless and, more importantly, effective.
Teach Patients About Billing Practices
Patients may be surprised that their insurance plan does not fully cover the cost of a dental treatment or procedure. One of the most effective ways of preventing the need for dental office debt collection is to make sure your patients understand how your dental practice bills for services. It’s important that this education is a standard operating procedure, especially for new patients. Everyone in the practice, from your dental assistants to front office staff, should be well informed about billing procedures and be comfortable speaking with patients about payment guidelines. Often, patients will ask dental office staff for assistance in understanding how various insurance plans, co-pays, and deductibles work.
The format of your billing statements and invoices matters, too. Statements should very clearly spell out the total cost of each service provided, the amount that is covered by insurance, how much is owed, and the date the bill is due. There should also be well-identified contact information if patients have questions.
Establish a Payment Plan System
Sometimes you need to work with patients to provide them with alternative ways to make payments that fit their budget. Be flexible and arrange for monthly or weekly payment schedules where patients pay a set amount each period. Often patients will find this to be a great relief, knowing they can keep their obligations but not in one lump sum. Don’t be afraid to consider offering incentives to patients who pay on time or early. Knocking off even a nominal percentage from the bill can go a long way in stopping late payments and maintaining good patient relations.
Be Prompt With Billing and Follow-Up on Missed Payments
Never delay sending invoices. As soon as insurance payments are applied, it’s critical to issue invoices to patients. If a patient does not pay on time, institute a practice where there is a call from office staff immediately along with a follow-up email explaining the overdue bill. Be sure to document all of your communications with patients as well as any attempts to contact them. Proof of such communication is vital to establishing your dental office’s debt collection processes, in case you ever need to take legal action.
Despite your best efforts, you will inevitably run into patients who cannot pay or choose not to pay their bill. At that point, the prudent thing to do is to contact an experienced dental office debt collection attorney to work on your behalf.
If your dental practice needs assistance collecting on past due patient accounts, contact McHughes Law Firm today at (501) 376-9131 to schedule your free legal consultation.