Take Your Accounts Receivable in for a Checkup

Many professional women experience complex webs of business and personal relationships on a daily basis, composed of balancing career and family. With full plates personally and professionally, the pressure of chasing down overdue patient debt is an added stress, which derails many women dentists from focusing on other aspects of their practices. The sooner you find help from a third-party collection agency, the better your chances of recovering overdue debt.

Oct 20th, 2008
Riviellomichelle

Brighten the Future of Your Practice With Help From a Third Party

By Michelle Riviello

I have been in the collection industry for many years now and have had the opportunity to experience the trials women face from a personal perspective and from the perspective of women clients who express their needs and challenges to me. The past few decades have witnessed historical changes in the workplace with women entering as a force to be reckoned with. However, many women dentists tell me they confront the same challenges all dentists face as well as a few additional challenges unique to their gender.

Many professional women experience complex webs of business and personal relationships on a daily basis, composed of balancing career, family, and lifestyle. Women dentists often approach me for help when they are trying to maintain a flourishing practice. They realize they must venture into the gray area of collecting on past due accounts while trying to retain patients. Most women express a need for help when it comes to walking the fine line of attempting to stay sensitive to patients' needs, yet assertive enough to keep their practices lucrative and successful.

With full plates personally and professionally, the pressure of chasing down overdue patient debt is an added stress, which derails many women dentists from focusing on other aspects of their practices. By acting early, dental practices will experience dramatic results with their accounts receivable. I have witnessed this method's effectiveness firsthand in collecting outstanding debt and maintaining healthy customer relations.

Improve your practice with help from a third-party collection team

When you are having difficulty collecting outstanding debt from patients, remember that many reputable practices also run into financial difficulties. The sooner you find help from a third-party collection agency, the better your chances are of recovering overdue debt. A successful team will follow these methods, which have worked well for many women with dental practices that are looking to collect overdue debt:

• Early intervention
• A mail-based campaign
• A flat-fee system
• Customer-driven technology
• A second tier

Success through early intervention

Many women dentists I have worked with want to avoid sending patients to collection agencies and hesitate to become assertive in debt collection. They do not want to damage the relationship they have with their patients by alienating them. Others simply lack the staff to chase overdue debt. I have witnessed practices achieve the greatest success with increased accounts receivable through improved debt collection from acting early — as early as 30-days past due.

Many dental practices appreciate the effectiveness of a debt collection agency that acts early. They also value an agency that works toward their practice's success by treating their patients respectfully. This method has been effective in boosting accounts receivable, while also helping retain good relations with patients.

When an agency utilizes a courteous mail-based system via a written demand sent early, customers are given a tangible request to resolve past due accounts. Many women dentists have experienced increased responses from their patients through the early intervention method using a written request. Patients appreciate written requests more than phone calls, which they may interpret as rude or abusive. Many patients have mentioned that this approach leaves them feeling less threatened and assures them that they are working with an ethical company.

How a flat-fee system operates

Many of my women dentist clients explore all possible avenues to keep their practices as lucrative as possible. When looking for assistance in collecting debt to boost their accounts receivable, most women keep a sharp eye on the bottom line. A debt collector who offers a flat-fee system has proven to be most affordable and effective for my clients. In the collection industry, a standard 33% is typically paid to the agency for each account. However, a flat-fee agency may have a dentist pay an average $10 to $15 per account, regardless of the dollar amount being collected. This system makes it possible for more women to hire collection agencies for their practices by keeping fees affordable.

An around-the-clock workforce

If a dentist wanted to hire an in-house team to manage her practice's accounts receivable, the cost would be astounding. Women dentist clients have found that a reputable third-party debt collector who gives them the ability to manage their accounts receivable through a Web-based system to be ideal. This setup is most effective for meeting the needs of hectic schedules by giving dentists access to their patients' account information any time of the day or night. The Web-based system saves time and money and speeds the debt recovery process.

Using core vales in a more aggressive approach

When dentists experience patients who do not respond to written requests for payment and debt goes unpaid for more than 90 days, it is time to step up collection efforts. Many practices find the greatest success with debt collection agencies that follow a second tier approach to follow through on accounts and produce results. Patients appreciate being treated with diplomacy, and are most likely to respond to this approach when paying overdue debt. Making phone calls to pursue overdue payments is a tedious tactic that can easily be misinterpreted by patients who are already on edge due to their financial situation. Most effective collection agencies use an educated team that adheres to core values and treats clients with respect.

An easy solution to a difficult problem

A highly regarded collection team is respectful to your patients and your team and works with you and your practice to collect past due debt. Many dentists have great appreciation for agencies that look to achieve success through making their practices successful while working hard to keep patients in the practice. When coupled with an effective debt collection agency which best meets their needs, dental practices have been able to better focus on patients' needs, enabling them to balance the challenges of family and lifestyle without feeling the pressure of chasing debts owed to their practices.

Michelle Riviello is part of the American Profit Recovery management team. American Profit Recovery Inc. (APR) is an accounts receivable management firm with offices in Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, and Kentucky. Founded in 2004, APR specializes in the collection of third-party debt in industries such as medical/dental, heating oil delivery, banking, trades, lawn care, and other professional services. The firm serves approximately 2,300 clients. Ms. Riviello can be reached at michelle.riviello@americanprofit.net or the firm's Web address at www.americanprofit.net.

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