The Experts Weigh In on Accounts Receivable
Published
 - December 22nd, 2022

Is your patient collection process working? Do you know the status of your practice’s financial health? When asked this question, most dentists can’t offer a definitive answer based on cold, hard data. 

All dentists know that patient collections and cash flow are critical to a practice’s ability to build wealth and grow. However, if you have not implemented systems to help your team collect payment when it’s due, that can pose a tremendous risk to your financial success. 

Below are our top five accounts receivable best practices based on firsthand insights from several industry experts. 

Accounts Receivable Best Practices  

Train your team on the ins and outs of patient collections

Team training is responsible for providing a positive patient experience and the overall success of your practice. As a matter of fact, when your team understands how collections affect a practice’s livelihood, they’re more likely to help patients understand their financial responsibility. 

One of the best ways to train your team on the ins and outs of working in a dental practice is to watch live seminars and online courses hosted by Front Office Rocks founder Laura Nelson. Laura has single-handedly helped hundreds of dental practices around the US achieve unprecedented financial growth by implementing a solid groundwork and processes. 

“To achieve real growth, you must ensure that every front office team member is aware of your financial guidelines and payment solutions,” she says. To do this, you need to outline payment options, discuss outside financing options, and explain what to do if the account is past due.

Collect copays and deductibles upfront

Part of training your team on patient collections is teaching them the importance of collecting copayments and deductibles upfront. To avoid confusion, this should be a known policy at your practice. 

This policy should be noted on your website, patient documents and waivers, and you should clearly state it when patients call to schedule an appointment. That’s a surefire way to ensure your practice receives payment from every patient the day they come in (not 2 months later).  

Laura often recommends off-site front desk support services to dental practices that need complete front desk support. “They can provide advanced call center solutions to dentists, such as handling phones, billing, and insurance,” she says.

Offer payment options to patients

It helps to be accommodating, then not! Remember that. These days, you can accept online payments, which patients can complete using a smartphone. You should also accept all well-known credit cards and virtual checks.

In addition, Dental Whale Practice Management Focus Area Leader Dr. Steven Wingfield says, “it helps to offer flexible financing options.” He notes that, “You can also go the extra mile by presenting customized payment solutions to help meet a patient’s specific needs. 

“Automated payments are a safe and secure option which also benefit the practice after insurance adjudication to collect on balances owed,” he explains. 

The point is to offer affordable and transparent payment options that simplify a patient’s finances, while improving your bottom line.                              

Reconcile your accounts receivables aging

Did you know once an account ages beyond 90 days, you lose 7 percent of the value of that balance every month and the chances of you getting paid decrease by 50 percent? The truth is this: If you produce more than you collect month over month, your cash flow will suffer.

A good goal to aim for is to ensure that 80% of your receivables fall within the 0 to 30 days range.

As a rule of thumb, accounts more than 90 days overdue should equate to less than 5 percent of your total accounts receivable. More importantly, make sure your front office team follows through on collecting payment the day you provide service. 

Track patient collections using a dental software

The most successful dentists actively track performance and measure results. In order to do this, they use dental softwares like Eaglesoft or Dentrix to monitor collections and benchmark performance. 

Not only does tracking patient collections offer critical insights into the health of your practice, it helps you develop strategies to improve your bottom line. Besides which, with electronic claims, there really isn’t any reason for claims to age over 30 days.

However, it’s worth noting that a few outlier claims require resubmission, which are the only exceptions to claims aging over a month. 

photo courtesy of Dentrix

How to Improve Patient Collections 

In order to improve patient collections at your dental practice, you need to know your financial strengths and weaknesses.

To find out where your practice stands among its competitors, a practice health assessment can help you learn how to unveil hidden opportunities to build wealth and grow your practice.

Enjoyed this blog? We would love to hear from you! Feel free to leave us a comment or question below.

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