Take a look at your aging. How much is in the Over 30 category? Over 60? Over 90?
If seeing the size of these numbers makes you groan, let’s dive into what you can do to improve them. There are 6 pieces to creating a collections system that works – we will outline each one below.
Are you sending out statements to everyone who has a balance due every month? If you are reviewing every patient ledger before you send out statements, you may have fallen behind and your collections are suffering because of it.
Your first step is to stop reviewing every individual account before you send statements. You need to send statements in bulk every month. If you are afraid there may be errors on the accounts, then send statements for balances due under $50 – and get those out ASAP. See how many patients call up and complain of errors. If this goes well, send statements for balances due under $300. Finally, print the rest of the statements for amounts due over $300 and call each patient before you send a statement.
Once you have exhausted your collection efforts, do you move patients into a separate billing type so they do not clog up your aging report, or worse yet, waste your money by sending statements month after month six months later, or even waste your time to try to skip over these patients that show up in your statement list each month?
Your next step is to create billing types and move patients into the correct billing type. You will save mountains of time and make your aging reports easier to manage.
Now that you have the list of patients that have a balance due, what is your approach for contacting them to collect this money? Will you just send statement after statement? Or will you call them? Send any letters? What will the letters say? And, how will you organize this work so you can get it done every month?
Your third step is set up a schedule for calling patients with balances owed and creating letters you can use as well.
Often, the reason you have patients with past due balances is that they did not have a financial arrangement set up before treatment began. To stop creating new problems and adding more patients onto your collections list, you need to set the options for how patients can pay you. The more creative you can be, and the more responsive to your patients’ financial needs, the more successful you will be at setting up a payment agreement that works. Once you have written down the payment options available to patients, tell the entire team. Finally, train the person responsible for the billing system in your office to document the reason that patients end up on the collections list and share this in staff meetings regularly.
I know that collections agencies are not providing much of a result to most dental practices. However, the sooner you can turn an account over to an agency, the better chance they have to collect for you. Plus, this is important for your patients to see the consequence of not paying their dental bills.
Your next step is to select a collections agency and set up an account to turn over your patients as needed.
Finally, you should you be looking at your aging and outstanding claims aging monthly to see how these numbers come down, while your practice collections go up! Next, you should keep an eye on the balances for patients who are making payments, those who have been sent to a collections agency and any who have been placed on temporary hold.
Your last step is to set up a system for tracking your aging and insurance aging each month to make sure you have a long term solution in place.
Improving your collections system requires that the person in charge of the billing and insurance have an organized system and the time to work it. If you would like to have a done for you collections system that covers each of these 6 items above, please click this link: