When talking with dental practices there seem to be two major frustrations that most offices suffer with.
- Finding and keeping qualified dental professionals to work in their practice.
- And keeping their accounts receivables under control.
Step 1: Insurance VerificationEvery patient should have an insurance verification form uploaded into their chart. Every time that patient is scheduled for an appointment with your dental practice, the day prior, someone in your office needs to call in a re-verify their insurance and coverage. In a perfect world, you would have your Hygiene Coordinator do all the insurance verifications for the hygiene patients and your treatment coordinator do all the insurance verifications for the patients on the doctor’s schedule. Doing the insurance verification is truly what sets all the remaining 7 steps up for success.
Step 2: Treatment PlanningThe doctor did their exam, came up with a treatment plan now what? Have a treatment coordinator put together a fairly accurate estimate (based on the insurance verification) of what the out of pocket costs will be for treatment. This is to be presented to the patient and explained that this is an estimate and there might be charges beyond that. Have the patient sign the treatment plan (even if they aren’t accepting treatment) and have it scanned into the patient’s account. When scheduling for the treatment, reconfirm the amount due and make sure they are aware payment will be due at the time of treatment.
Step 3: Collect at the time of treatmentThe worst cases I have seen of high accounts receivables are when the office follows the “We will send you a bill” method. They do the treatment, submit the claim, wait for the claim to be paid from the insurance and then bill the patient for the remaining balance with a 30-day due date. This is pushing collections out 60 to 90 days! Yes, this ensures that your patients are paying the proper amount, but if you do steps 1 and 2 properly, they should be paying fairly closely to what they owe. Side Note: Financing… I was never a big fan of financing. They charge too high of a service fee on the office and then charge a hefty interest payment on the patient. And you should advise your patients to get the credit card points on their favorite card. However, some people don’t have credit cards and if they need to get the treatment done, you should have options for them. So make sure you are signed up with at least one healthcare financing option for your patients.
Step 4: Submit claims same dayThere is absolutely no reason to delay submitting claims. Before treatment is performed, your Office Manager or Insurance Biller should verify they have all the photos they need to submit the claim. And your Dental Assistant should know what photos to take once the treatment is completed. The last thing your Office Manager or Dental Insurance Biller should do before they leave for the day is submit all the claims to insurance. This will make sure the payment comes as quickly as possible. Same with checks! Your office should have a check scanner and checks should be submitted daily!
Step 5: Run AR daily and have an in-house and 3rd party working on AR.Another one of your Office Manager’s or Insurance Coordinator’s daily duties should be to run an AR report daily. This enables them to catch any claims that have not been paid by the dental insurance company within 30 days. They should call the insurance company as soon as AR gets past 30 days, to see what the insurance company needs to get that claim paid as quickly as possible. By staying on top of that will make sure claims don’t go unpaid for too long and will keep your AR up to date. The 3rd party company is to monitor and collect on all claims that go past the 45-day mark. Your Office Manager or insurance coordinator has enough going on. Hiring a 3rd party company to help manage those claims will make sure you continue to collect on any claims that the insurance company keeps kicking back or is just not paying.
Step 6: Send out patient invoices as soon as insurance check comes in.Hopefully, your treatment coordinator or office manager is fairly spot on with their treatment estimates, but in the times they aren’t statements should be sent out as soon as the patient’s insurance check comes in. Instead of mailing out invoices, use an invoicing system that will email the invoices out and allows the patients to pay with a credit card by clicking on the invoice! You will be surprised by how quickly your patients will pay. Also, shorten up the due date period. Instead of Net-30, do Net 10 or Net-15. This will prevent your patients from putting off paying and then forgetting to pay altogether. Once the patient’s due date comes, if they still haven’t paid, have your office manager or insurance coordinator call them up. All she has to say is: “Hi Mr. Patient, I was just calling because your payment is now past due. I want to help you avoid a late fee, would you like to make that payment right now? I can take a credit card over the phone.” And lastly.
Step 7: Never write off small balances.No matter how great your treatment coordinator is estimating treatment plans, some of your patients will still have a balance. But they should be fairly small. One might be tempted to just write off a $2 balance. But if you have 1000 patients with $2 balances that is $2000. So DON’T WRITE THOSE OFF! Because they add up quickly. There you have it. This seems like a lot of steps, but once this is implemented it is very easy and you will reap the benefits. I have summarized this by making a short list of what to do!
- Dental Insurance Verification
- Treatment Plan accurately
- Collect at the time of treatment
- Submit claims same day as treatment
- Run AR daily and have an in-house and 3rd party working on AR.
- Send out patient invoices as soon as insurance check comes in.
- Never write off small balances.