Seven Tips for Improving Your Dental Practice Collections
Your receivables – or client payments – are the life blood of your business. Here are five tips for getting your blood flowing.
1.) Collect All Key Information – Make sure your Patient Information Intake Sheet is completed. Highlight Key Fields so your staff can instantly see if valuable information is missing, such as:
- Insurance Carrier – Name, address and phone number
- Group number and patient ID number
- Patient’s complete name, address and home and cell numbers
- Responsible party’s complete name, address and home and cell numbers
- Guarantor’s complete name, address and home and cell numbers
- Employer’s name, address and phone number
Some people omit their employer’s name and phone number because they are not allowed to receive calls at work or because they prefer not to be called there. Yet the phone number and address of the employer can be a valuable piece of information should the account go into collection.
2.) Keep Thorough Records – Keep a record of how payments are made – credit/debit card or personal check. If the account goes into litigation, your records serve as documentation.
3.) Enforce Payment Policy – Maintain a standard office policy regarding when payment is due – i.e. before or after services are rendered, or combination of the two. Train your staff to strictly adhere to the policy. And make sure staff understands the ramifications to your practice when patients don’t pay for your services – a healthy business is good for everyone. Don’t assume your employees understand cash flow.
4.) Document Exceptions to the Rule: If you need to make exceptions to your standard office policy and when a payment is due, make sure you follow objective criteria that does not expressly or inherently discriminate on the basis of age, sex, gender, marital status or any other legally protected class.
5.) Follow Up Quickly – Don’t let your outstanding payments go past 30 days without having someone from your office call the patient. Then reinforce the phone call with a reminder, whether by text, email or regular mail.
6.) Get Permission to Call – Get written permission to communicate via text and email and also to call and leave a message from a live service or an automated system on home or cell phones. This permission flows through to the Collection Agency if the account is turned over to them.
7.) Document Consent and Revocation of Consent – Make sure you track the source of all phone numbers and in the case of cell numbers make sure you obtain the consent to call the cell from the subscriber or customary user of the cell number assigned to the patient, responsible party or guarantor’s phone. Be sure to train your staff to not only detect the revocation of consent to call a cell using an automated system or leave an artificial voice message but to also notify your Collection Agency immediately should such consent be revoked.
You have a practice to run. You went to dental school to help patients, not chase them for payment. If all else fails, turn to the professionals – a professional Collection Agency. For medical specialists, we advise you wait no more than 90 days from the date of service to turn over an account to collections, unless there are extenuating circumstances with the insurance carrier.
For family practitioners, turning over a patient account to a collection professional can be a difficult choice, particularly when you’ve had a long-term relationship with the patient and may be aware of their personal hardship. Therefore, it is important to select a Collection Agency that will represent you and your practice favorably. Be sure they are polite, firm and fair.
At Heritage Financial Recovery Services, we combine decades of industry expertise and experience with an approach of empathy and respect for those in debt to deliver maximum financial recovery for our clients. We are committed to professionalism, compliance with the law, industry standards and safeguarding our clients’ reputation. We understand that each debt is unique and by helping those in trouble see solutions, we deliver unparalleled results.