Make sure each dentist is paid correctly in your group practice

“You don’t know what you’ve got, until it’s gone.” That old song applies to my office right now. I have an employee that only handles our daily deposit. She enters payments from all insurance checks, personal payments and EFTs from insurance every day and then takes the cash to the bank. She has worked for me for years and we have a lovely arrangement – she is paid at a relatively low rate and has almost total flexibility with her schedule. As long as she comes in every day to take care of the deposit, I don’t care what time she comes or goes.

Unfortunately, she has run into a string of difficult circumstances lately – health problems, followed by surgery, and suddenly, her husband passed away. She has been out of the office for almost 3 full weeks in a row. Luckily, she will return, but as the administrator for the group, I’ve had to make a backup plan for the deposit and that leaves my staff singing the blues. We also certainly appreciate our part time staff person far more than ever.

Multiple Dentists, One Check

In our group, one of the major challenges with the deposit is making sure that the dentist that does the work is the one that gets paid. Since it is common for a child to visit our pediatric dentist, their parent to visit a general dentist and our periodontist – that adds up to three providers that deserve to be paid from the same family. When Mom writes a check for $200 to pay off her family’s balance – who should get that money?

When you enter a personal payment, you need to look into the family’s account to see which provider is owed how much money. Here are the Dentrix instructions to enter a personal payment:

1.  Go to the ledger

2.  Select the correct patient (can use either patient or guarantor (payment will be applied to family account.  (Enter the last name/click on <<)

3.  Click the enter payment icon

4.  Select payment type

5.  If it is a check, enter the check number

6.  Select split payment – (default is FIFO – first in first out – almost always use this)

7.  Click “More” next to FIFO to bring up the amount owed to each provider

8.  Click FIFO again to split the payment among providers

Pay Each Dentist Fairly

By following these Dentrix instructions, you can see exactly which provider is owed and how much. You can see I highlighted Step 7 – this is the key to see how much each provider is owed for their work. By having this system in place, dentists in a group practice can feel confident that they are being paid for their work. If the staff person doing the deposit doesn’t split the payments and simply applies the entire payment to the general dentist, then everything will look fine, but it’s not. The family’s account balance will show $0 and so from the patient perspective, everything is all set. However the two specialists in our example did work for this family and aren’t getting paid for it. Not fair.

In a group dental practice, you can see how important it is for your staff person doing the deposit to be properly trained. And, using my office as an example, you also need to make sure the backup person is trained as well!

Check your own practice

If you are a dentist or office manager in a dental group practice using Dentrix right now – go to your appointment book and select a patient with a visit from a few weeks ago. It would be great to find a family that you know has seen multiple dentists. Now follow my instructions above as if you’re going to enter a pretend personal payment (you have to enter a fake payment amount, like $5.00 to see the split payment screen). What do you see? This is a great check to run to see how your daily deposit is being handled. If you see money still owed to different dentists, share the instructions above with your staff person – and you can always call Dentrix for help with handling your deposit correctly.

Here’s to well-trained staff handling dental payments correctly!

And, if you are working in a multi-location group practice, you may be interested to read how one group increased its profits over $500,000 in just one year:

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AUTHOR: Jill Nesbitt
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