Collecting patients’ payments on time can be one of the most difficult parts of running a dental practice. Having old or aging accounts can indeed become a headache for your practice’s payment collections and management. Your practice needs to make sure that it is getting paid for the services provided and that the payment is collected from both the patients and the insurance provider. But often you see practices struggling to collect payments on time.
There are various explanations for why dental practices do not receive full payment.
- The patient leaves a balance.
- Insurance does not provide the expected coverage.
- The patient discontinues payments under the established payment plan.
Now, why do you need to clean up your old accounts?
Accounts receivable is a major expense for dental practices which can easily go out of control. If accounts receivable get too high, it can even result in your practice being closed down. However, the good news is that regular cleaning up of accounts over the next 90 days will help your practice collect outstanding balances and limit bad debts, thereby preventing the accounts receivable from getting too high. Clearing old accounts on a regular basis also helps to make sure that not much time or money is spent chasing past-due patients’ balances and insurance balances. The goal of your practice should be to clear all accounts in accounts receivable that are older than 30 days.
Steps to cleaning up old accounts
Create a report
The first step to cleaning your old accounts is to create a report of accounts over the past 90 days. The likelihood of your practice collecting on overdue accounts decreases dramatically once they remain unpaid for such long periods of time. This makes it important for practices to create a report of all the old accounts before they get written off.
Clean up patient data
Making sure that your patient data is clean and accurate is highly important for ensuring that your claims get paid on time. Any mistakes or inaccuracies in it can lead to payments getting delayed or worse, claims getting denied altogether.
- Check for any duplicates
- Check for missing information
- Check for inaccuracies or errors
- Check for inaccurate patient demographics
- Check if the patient data are up-to-date
Review pending patient payments
Reviewing pending payments helps your practice get an idea of what went wrong, whether it is a mistake from your part or the insurance provider or the patient. Reviewing payments within the last 30 days will help you know if any payments have been forgotten or if there is some kind of problem with one of the insurance providers.
Send friendly reminders
The best way to stay organized and on top of the numerous patient payments is to send timely reminders via text messages, emails or phone calls. This helps your practice make sure that none of the payments go unpaid. It can be the best means to remind your patients of their payments, as there are high chances that they might forget about the payment.
Make follow-up calls
This is the last step in cleaning up the old accounts. It is the part where you call the patients to remind them of the payments and convince them to pay the due amount. There may be a lot of reasons that keep your patients from making the payments. This is your chance to talk to them and understand what is stopping them from making the payments so as to make the necessary changes to make payments easier for your patients, if possible.
Here are a few tips to clean up your unhealthy accounts receivable:
Collect payments on or before the day of treatment
Make sure to collect patient payments before providing the services so as to make sure that none of it goes unpaid. Collecting payments prior to providing services also helps reduce no-shows and cancellations. If you are not able to collect it at the time of scheduling, do so before the patient returns for treatment, especially if their appointment is long or challenging.
Before beginning treatment, explain the treatment plan and the anticipated cost to your patients. Have current eligibility information, a summary of benefits, and the insurance fee schedule on hand for the patient. Avoid surprises as it may ruin their experience, making them lose trust in your practice and not want to visit again.
Provide constant reminders
Provide constant reminders to your patient so as to make sure that they do not forget about their payments that are due. Make sure to call the patient if payment is not made by the due date. Even better, send them a text or email with a link to a payment page so they may pay the remainder online quickly and conveniently.
Offer various payment options
Make sure that it is easier for the patients to make the payment by offering them various payment options. In addition to accepting cash, checks, and charge cards, allow your patients the convenience of making payments online. Thus helping your practice collect payments faster and easier.
Cleaning up old accounts can be a great way for your practice to collect on outstanding balances and reducing bad debts. The key is to do it regularly and make sure you have a plan in place before starting.