As a busy dental office manager, recovering late-due bills from patients can be of the most daunting parts of the job. However, turning accounts receivables into revenue is crucial to a dental practice’s success. However, maintaining positive relationships with patients is equally as important. The key to reducing defaults and delinquencies is to give your patients options to choose from. Also, to keep them aware and acquainted with their financial duties for payment. Simultaneously, don’t try attempting debt collection in too aggressive of a manner; otherwise, you will lose your patients who might later become high paying clients.
Here are proven guidelines for dealing with unpaid dental fees
When your patient makes their appointment, as a dental staff, the first thing you should do is obtain and verify the insurance information. As part of common consent, you should explain the pros and cons of treatment option and elaborate on the one they feel it’s in their best interest. At the point, the dental staff should also educate the patient and let them know what the cost and payment procedure for the treatment – either in part or full thereof. This helps eliminate the patient portion before the service is rendered, which equals no need for debt collection!
The service of a treatment coordinator can be employed to explain treatment options for patients. This could be an expert who is a member of the dental nursing, who understands the ins and outs of the treatment can as well answer the majority of the patient’s questions. Also, the best time to approach the subject of fees as patients will mostly use such information when deciding on their intended course of treatment.
Another most efficient and patient-friendly way of dealing with dental debt fees is to offer them a payment plan. Make an arrangement where the patient pay a certain amount within a specific period to help make the payment easy if they are financially struggling or cannot afford to settle their dental fees in full at the time. Some other achievable plans are deferred payment options or installment plans. However, don’t hesitate to incentivize early payments. Reward those patients who pay early by giving them a small percentage discount off their bill when payment is received before the invoice comes due. By doing this, you can prevent late fees and can as well effectively strengthen the dentist-patient relationship
Moreover, not all patients understand their dental insurance policies, the amount they are responsible for in deductibles and premium, and the depth of the service they want to acquire. Alas, it is a loss to the dentist because often, patients fail to pay their part of their dental bill because they don’t understand how much money they owe. As a dentist, the best thing you could do is to educate your patients and make them aware of their insurance policies to avoid delinquencies and unnecessary disputes. Regularly make a routine check on the patient’s insurance coverage before starting the billing process. It will save you a lot of time and resources against unpaid dental fees in the long run.
Ensure that your patients understand their payment procedure, especially if the payment is said to be paid partly. In this regard, the use of weekly or monthly payments system has proved to be highly useful to patients and dentist as it makes the cost of treatment to be stretched over the treatment period. So be proactive in your billing and collection processes.
Another helpful tip in collecting unpaid dental fees is to offer a payment option for a patient (especially forgetful patients) to use debit or credit cards. However, if a patient does not have sufficient health insurance coverage for their treatments but wants to get the treatment and pay in installments, always try as much as possible to recover these fees professionally. Phone calling a patient to remind them of their debt is good, but you must ensure that the person on the phone is the patient, to avoid breaking the confidentiality of the patient who received the treatment.
Hiring the service of a dental debt collection agency cannot be overstated, as it does not speak wisely of a dentist to be chasing those debtors all around while leaving those that duly pay at the detriment of their health. A debt collection agency is used to collect unpaid dental fees and might be a wise decision for your business if you see your patients be avoiding payment.
If it is in your best interest to outsource your debt collections to another firm, ensure you make a thorough research about their credibility. The best hack to know a credible debt collection firm is to understand what debtors are saying against them because every responsible collection agency must be debtor's complaint against them. Why? Debtors don’t like to pay their bills. Furthermore, doing the course of the research, keep an eye out for harsh complaints made by the debtors against the agency – words like “ their agents are uncivil and uncouth, they molested me.” Also, ensure that the firm you are hiring is well-oriented about the industry (understand the insurance policy and have in dealing with an insurance company) and that they handle the job professionally without compromising the better services of your clinic or breaching the dentist-patient relationship.
Lastly, no dental practitioner has ever lost a customer because they have been asked to pay, and the truth is, no business wants customers do not pay. A Professional Dental Debt Collection Agency will be not just an asset but a significant investment (business-wise) to your practice and work hand in hand with you to achieve the desired objective. As with any industry, it does pay to work with specialists that get the job done.
The success of a quality Dental Debt Collection service has been proven in the UK. Frontline Collections have helped hundreds of practices and dentists collect what was due to them. This normally applies for private treatments patients have not paid for.