Collecting on completed treatment plans can sometimes take up a lot of a dental practice’s time and energy. With the number of companies that have eliminated dental insurance, a patient’s portion of their treatment plan costs can sometimes be overwhelming. Understanding who can pay up front and who might need a more flexible option will go a long way towards increasing your collections rate. However, here we also outline five steps you can take to ensure that your practice spends more time practicing and less time collecting.
- Figure out who is a risky payee
Determining in advance which of your patients will be able to pay their portion of the treatment case plan is the best way of ensuring payment for your work. There are several ways of finding out if someone poses a collections risk. You can request proof of employment, proof of Social Security reimbursement and check their credit report. Should a patient’s credit history spotlight a pattern of missed payments or financial difficulty, you can then request a year-to-date pay stub. It is better for you to know up-front what the risks are before engaging in any costly procedures.
- Negotiate realistic payment plans
With the insight gleaned on each patient’s payment history you can then build realistic payment plans that will fit within their monthly budget. Talk honestly with your patient to build trust. Let them know you are open to creating a repayment plan that works for them. People tend to be very willing to engage in such discussions if they feel their dentist understands their situation.
Talk honestly with your patient to build trust. Let them know you are open to creating a repayment plan that works for them.
A great way of ensuring payment success is to set patients up with automatic debits from their bank account or credit card every month. Make it even easier by scheduling the payments around pay days.
- Keep communication constant
The best way to get patients to pay is to keep reminding them of payment due dates. Send notifications before payments are due. Either via email or text, a reminder is a great way of jogging a patient’s memory. If a patient misses a payment be sure to contact them right away to give them a chance to cover their installment. If there is no sign of payment, follow-up with a call. You want to keep the missed payment at the forefront of a patient’s mind. Collections that go out past the 30 day mark are much harder to collect.
Remember to keep a record of all contact with the patient regardless of whether it is electronic or over the phone so that follow-ups can be done by any member of your staff. It will also provide you with an audit trail if you must resort to collections.
- Be flexible
If a patient in otherwise good standing misses a payment due to a sudden financial difficulty, don’t try to collect two payments the following month – chances are they won’t have the money and it will create a larger cycle of repayment issues. Instead tack the missed payment onto the end of their repayment term. Your patient will appreciate this gesture of good faith and you will see that repayments increase overall.
- Provide third party financing
If you are not willing to take a risk with payments, provide third party financing options. By giving your patients all of the information they need on how to apply and procure third party financing, you are empowering them to make their own financial decisions.
Zuub automatically structures the costs of each procedure within the treatment plan in order to take into account a patient’s insurance coverage, so they see at a glance how much will be covered and how much they will have to pay out of their own pockets.
In the end, you want to avoid going to collections as much as possible. By creating favorable repayment conditions for your patients, you will dramatically increase your payment collections rate on treatment plans.