Are you being paid for the work you do?

DentistWhat treatment did you provide to patients today? A couple extractions? A few fillings? A crown?

If you run your day sheet – what was your production? Now, do you know you’re getting paid for the work you do?

Dental Insurance Withholds

If the fee schedules for your dental insurance plans are set up properly, then you are charging out the negotiated fee in your patients’ ledger – and that gives you a realistic picture of the production you should collect. If the fee schedules are not set up correctly, then you will see an inflated production number because your full fee is being charged out in your patients’ ledger – and that’s what shows up on your day sheet. Your first task is to look at your day sheet to make sure that the fees charged out are correct – full fee for out-of-network and non-insurance patients and the negotiated fee for PPO insurance patients.

A look back

One quick way to get an answer to the question “Are you being paid for the work you do?” is to flip back in your schedule to a busy day 5-6 weeks ago. Click on each restorative patient in the schedule and look at the patient’s ledger. How many zero balances do you see? Do you see insurance payments and personal payments? If a balance exists on the account, do you see a statement has been sent? Do you see any collection letters documented as sent to the patient? If you print this day’s schedule, you can write the balance you see beside each name. Hopefully, every single patient has paid (and their insurance has paid as well) and all the balances are at zero.

Dentrix makes this easy. Just click on the patient’s visit in the appointment book and then click on the ledger icon. You can see the family balance in the center of the screen. If you do see a balance, you can look in the ledger to see if the insurance has paid yet. To see if any statements or letters were sent, click on the Office Journal icon – this brings up a list of all patient communications. In 5 minutes, you can easily check a couple columns of restorative patients to determine how many of these patients are paid in full.

Grow your confidence

One way to develop confidence in your billing system is to review your end of month reports for both insurance aging and personal portion aging. You want to see the number of accounts and the total dollar amount in the current, over 30, over 60 and over 90 days categories. Guidelines for how much should be in each category have changed over the years, but healthy practices have almost all their outstanding balances in the current and over 30 days categories. There should be very few left in the over 60 and over 90 days groups. Be sure to evaluate the insurance separate from the patients’ personal amounts due – these are two different reports in your practice management software.

The sooner you know that you are being paid for the work that you do, often the more you are willing to work a little harder, stay a little later or even add the occasional Saturday morning. You know that as long as your schedule is full, you should see an increase in your collections – moving you closer to your financial goals for the practice and personally.

Effectively managing dental collections is just one way to run a successful dental practice. If you’re interested in new ideas on running a dental practice, please subscribe to my weekly blog. One of the biggest challenges to managing a dental practice is managing dental insurance. With dental insurance handled, then dental marketing for new patients becomes a primary focus. In today’s day of online reviews, handling patient complaints well is essential. As your practice grows, hiring dental staff becomes more important. With 16+ years of dental practice management experience, I’m open to your questions to help you run a successful dental office.

Feel free to email me.

AUTHOR: Jill Nesbitt
  • Jill,

    Am I glad that I reached your page! I completed my Fall 2013 term where we learned, albeit briefly, about the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence. I recently got an opportunity to explore dental practice management, and I was wondering if a dental practice can follow the Baldrige journey.

    Your post piqued my interest. Thanks for sharing this!


    February 12, 2014
    • Leticia,

      Thanks for your comment! Sounds like you’re in an MBA program now – is that right? That was my intro to the Baldrige concept years ago – and I use this approach every day in the practices I work with. The concept of measuring your performance is new to dentistry – especially when we start talking about healthcare outcomes. Great to have another businessperson interested in the dental field!

      Best to you,

      February 21, 2014
  • Thank you so much for sharing this! I am about to get my MBA soon and I really appreciate this post from you.

    March 22, 2017