Stay on top of statements | Dental Office Manager Training
Billing managers – Are you current with sending out statements? Do you send them out regularly to every patient with a balance? Are you sending out a reasonable number of statements? Are you on top of your overall collections? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then are you checking every statement before you send it out? This may be the task that is running you so far behind, you can’t seem to stay on top of sending statements regularly – much less keep up with the overall collections.
Doctors – Is your billing manager checking every statement before she sends it? Go ask this question to your billing manager right now! If you are reading this in the evening, set a reminder for tomorrow morning – walk to her desk and ask. If it’s during the day, stand up and walk over to her and find out. Right now.
If this is happening in your office, you need to know.
Billing managers that are reviewing every single patient ledger before they send statements are not operating efficiently.
This is a major problem – especially in group practices. If you asked your billing manager if she is checking every patient’s ledger before she feels comfortable sending out statements – I’ll bet the next thing you heard was a laundry list of “good” reasons why this is absolutely essential.
Here are the good excuses I’ve heard:
I have found so many mistakes in the accounts, I just don’t want the patients to be upset with us.
This is how I always have done it.
I want every statement to be right, don’t you?
The problem with checking every statement before its being sent out is that it’s incredibly slow. And, its a telltale sign that you don’t trust your billing system to work.
And, I would bet that the same staff that are checking every single statement – are also thousands of dollars behind on following up with outstanding insurance or collections. I bet your over 90 days on insurance outstanding is over $10,000. And the over 60 is just as bad. Plus, when is the last time you called patients from the regular aging report to collect their portion due? Wait, let me guess – you don’t have time!
Your Heart is in the Right Place
I have great relationships with my insurance / billing staff in offices all over – I know their pain. They just want everything to be right. They check each statements so that the balance is right for the patient – and they feel the dentist owner would want them to continue taking care of each and every patient with the same attention to detail they used when the practice only had one dentist! Unfortunately, this is like death by 1000 cuts – while the billing manager is spending all day checking patient ledgers just to send out statements, they are holding up the cash flow for the practice.
And they know it.
Most billing managers I have worked with know that they are terribly behind in their work and they feel awful about it. They are working as hard as they can – often longer hours than the rest of the front desk team members! And yet, even with the extra hours, eating lunch at their desk and skipping out on the daily office chitchat, they continue to fall further and further behind.
Change how you See Your Job
The first step to change is to see your job not to make every account perfect, but to keep up with the insurance and collections for the practice. With this slight change of attitude, you can bring truth of how far behind you have fallen on the insurance outstanding list and the collections effort to your dentist and have an honest conversation about what is needed to get caught up.
This means that you set up your billing and insurance systems so that you feel confident they are correct. Maybe that means you need to train your team? Maybe it means you need to let a team member go? Maybe you need to hire someone part time to get caught up? No matter what, you need a plan to work through these long lists and then stay caught up from now on.
It also means that you send your statements regularly in bulk. Yes, I know that’s going to be hard. You just have to do it. And, yes, you may have a few patients call you up because they found a mistake. If so, figure out where the error occurred and solve the problem.
If you are way behind on your collections and you’re still in the habit of checking every statement – how about sending all the statements to patients that owe less than $50? This will get a bunch of the statements out, get some cash flow rolling in and if there are mistakes – they will be small enough that hopefully the patients won’t be super upset. This can give you a sense of what you may be dealing with as you send statements to the larger balance patients.
Also, the more you get on the phone and talk with patients about their balances – the more you can solve these problems before anyone is upset. Call the patients who owe the largest balance – did they expect to have a large balance? Do they have any questions? Can you offer them some options for payment?
So, if you are the billing manager for your practice and I have described you and your situation accurately – would you like some help? Just call me or send me an email and we can work out a plan where I can set you up on a path where you will be caught up. That’s right – you can be caught up in your work!
And, doctors, if you talked with your billing manager and found out that she is checking every statement before it gets sent out and she shared with you how overwhelmed she feels about being behind – are you interested in getting some help for her? You know the kind of impact on your cash flow this could make. Again, call me to talk about your situation and we can put together a plan to get you on the path to success!
And, to help you begin to manage your time – here’s an approach called the Ideal Day that may be helpful for your front desk team:
Managing statements effectively 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 18+ years of dental practice management experience, I’m open to your questions to help you run a successful dental office.