One of the biggest hurdles that any dental practice faces is collecting payments from patients.
Of course, it’s always best to collect payments at the time of service. Even if you’ll be filing with insurance, you should collect the patient’s estimated portion while they are there in front of you. On a recent NEA webinar, dental expert, Denise Ciardello of Global Team Solutions, agreed that, although this sounds simple, you’d be surprised how many practices do not follow this simple guideline.
But what happens if you have an account that has not been paid after services were rendered and you were told “the check’s in the mail?” When do you make the first contact for an overdue account?
Ask most dental consultants like Ciardello and Lois Banta of Banta Consulting, and they’ll tell you that when a patient account hits the 30-day mark, it’s past due and a gentle reminder should be sent or a call made to notify the patient of their overdue account status. It’s not a topic anyone likes to deal with, but it’s a harsh reality that at some point, you or someone else in your office is going to have to pick up the phone and call someone to kindly, but firmly request payment for services long-since rendered.
Here are a few quick tips for making those conversations easier on yourself, your staff and the patients you serve:
- Make sure that before treatment is rendered, patients have been informed of and agreed to your financial policies.
- Highlight when payments are expected, i.e., at the time of temporary crown placement or prior to each perio maintenance session, etc.
- Maintain signed copies of agreed to financial policies.
- If you have to call to collect on an overdue account balance, develop a script (or a series of scripts) and make sure that the person responsible for collections calls on behalf of your office is well-trained on the process.
- Be prepared to handle objections before you dial the phone number. (This should be part of the scripting mentioned above.)
- Play out the possible scenarios in advance and present options to address them if they arise on your call.
- Document every conversation thoroughly and include specific dates/times of follow-up calls and future communication activities scheduled.
- Make it easy for your patients to pay by offering flexibility in payment options including financing options, payment plans, etc.
- Showing patients that you understand the financial burden associated with their oral health can go a long way to compliance with their treatment plan.
- If you’re not getting a positive response and the debt is still sitting on your books, you may have to turn it over to a collections agency or write it off but be sure that your team has done everything possible to collect what’s been earned by your practice. Collections is a last resort that nobody really wants.
- Check your state’s collections laws, and if you’re unfamiliar with the federal laws related to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Truth in Lending Act (TILA).You’ll be well-served to read up state and federal collection laws and may want to consider speaking with a legal representative regarding payment collection options.
To learn more, listen to these recent NEA’s webinars on this topic.
“6 Steps for an Iron-clad Collection System” Denise Ciardello >>> VIEW WEBINAR
“Getting the Dollars Off the Books and Into the Bank” Lois Banta >>> VIEW WEBINAR
This communication is provided for convenience as general information and is not intended to be used as legal advice. Vyne does not guarantee reliance on the aforementioned information. For verification, please seek counsel from an appropriate legal or agency professional.