Dental practices charge different patients varying amounts for the same services. Because of this, patients rarely know what the payment for the services are until after they have received the treatment. Lack of transparency in the costs of treatments and the resultant fluctuation of prices within the same city or state has led to some practices charging more for certain services than others, thereby, increasing the overall cost of dental care, and the amount paid by the patients.
Since patients and doctors alike, cannot predict what treatment is required until after consultation, there is no scope for informing patients what their payment amount would be at the end of their visit. So, if there are any out-of-pocket payments to be made, it would come as an unwelcome surprise to the patient, leaving him / her in distress. Such situations negatively impact the overall experience the patient has at your practice. This could make them never want to visit your facility again and look for an alternative one instead. Most practices are often overly cautious about revealing the costs or high costs of their services and treatments as they worry that they may lose patients to practices that charge less for the same services or treatments. However, this is far from the truth as the cost of the treatments and the quality of the services or treatments are not always related. Patients choose more expensive treatments because they believe that more expensive treatments are of higher quality.
Transparency in patient’s payment details has its own challenges. Some of them being:
Determining the services needed in advance
It is almost impossible for a practice to determine exactly what services all of its patients may need. This makes it hard for the practice to come up with an accurate payment amount in advance. Sudden and unexpected treatments or procedures can disturb this and complicate things further for the patients, disrupting their entire patient experience.
Difficulties with patients’ insurance policies
Attempts to make patient payment details transparent can be difficult because of the complex insurance rules and regulations. This is made particularly difficult by the vast range of insurance benefit structures and the challenge of estimating the payment when charges come from several suppliers.
Legal obstacles to reporting payments, such as contractual obligations that, in some cases, prevent health plans from disclosing their negotiated rates with providers, are also factors that prevent practices from disclosing patient payment details ahead of treatment.
Even though there are a lot of challenges in making transparency in payment details a routine, it is essential for the improved functioning of your practice and creating a better experience for your patients.
Benefits that come with providing transparency in patient billing:
Better patient experience
Patients have long been burdened with unforeseen payments that they had not budgeted for before receiving the treatment. This has always been the norm in the world of dental payments – leaving the patients frustrated and perplexed when the time comes for them to pay the dental bills. With transparency in billing, the frustration and worry that patients are faced with can be limited to a certain extent. In turn, this gives rise to a better patient experience at your practice.
Encourages patient payments
Better payment transparency results in greater patient education and comprehension of their treatments and associated expenses. Instead of being caught off guard and anxious when their dental bill arrives, the patients would have time to plan and budget for the cost of services. Your patients are more likely to make the payment if you employ price transparency tactics at your facility.
Enhances patient relationships
Payment transparency can actually help your practice build a strong relationship with your patients. With better price transparency, your patients will feel more calm and less worried about their payments. Patients feel a sense of empowerment and relief with increased transparency into the cost of their dental care. This helps to build a strong relationship with your patients and deepen their trust in you, which in turn enhances your patient relationships.
Being clear about billing helps your practice make more money. It shows patients how much they owe and encourages them to pay quickly for their treatments. Knowing the payments will only help your practice boost its revenue. Transparency in billing involves informing patients beforehand about the services or treatments they will receive and the corresponding costs. This ensures that patients are aware of what they will be receiving and how much they will need to pay.
Dental care can be costly, complex, and personal, and it involves choices that can have a lasting impact. What is more, most patients lack sufficient knowledge of the dental care system to make informed decisions about their use of healthcare benefits and services. Educating them on the best courses of treatment for their dental health and explaining to them the possible costs for the treatments will make your patients feel more valued and cared for by your practice.