Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2016 02 Collect Bills 1

Increase collections in your dental practice with the ‘Rule of Threes’

Feb. 18, 2016
Gently contacting and reminding your dental patients about their overdue bills will help your practice increase collections. But if the first contact doesn't work, try these next two steps, says Dr. Roger Levin.

The best way to deal with collection problems is to prevent them from happening in the first place. Carefully define patient payment policies and communicate these policies with patients clearly and often. (You do not necessarily need to share them verbally, which might irritate patients, but with signage and by noting them on statements and other paperwork.) In cases that involve high out-of-pocket costs for patients, offer and encourage outside financing through a reputable finance company.

These measures will help minimize overdue accounts. But you will still need to develop protocols for collecting what patients owe your practice. Here are some basic strategies that will help you reach the 99% collection target that Levin Group trains our client practices to reach.

Put collections on your financial coordinator’s schedule
Dealing with delinquent accounts can be frustrating and unpleasant, so it’s understandable that even responsible staff members will sometimes put it on the back burner. To avoid this, designate specific times on specific days when your financial manager can concentrate totally on collecting overdue payments. To make this most effective, set and track performance targets—number of patients contacted, number of accounts cleared, amount of money collected, and more.

Use the “Rule of Threes”
Exactly what should your financial coordinator do to motivate patients to pay what they owe? Levin Group clients have achieved excellent results by following the “Rule of Threes”:

It begins with phone calls to patients, one call per week for three weeks to remind them of their financial obligation and to ask them when the practice can expect payment. To increase the chances of actually speaking to patients, call their cell phones.

Next, send emails, again, once a week for three weeks. Though the message should not be harsh or accusatory (these are your patients, after all), it should be businesslike and convey the sense that the practice is concerned. Include numbers and dates to put the situation in sharp focus for the patients.

Finally, mail letters, one every week for three weeks. By this point, the tone should be very formal, to the point of resembling a legal document (without threatening legal action). Each of the three letters should be different, showing an increasing level of “disappointment.”

When using the “Rule of Threes,” your financial coordinator will usually get a response before going through the whole process.

You’ll always have to contend with overdue accounts, but by setting performance targets and a 99% goal, scheduling collections activities and employing the “Rule of Threes,” your practice should be able to collect most of the money it’s owed.

ALSO BY DR. ROGER LEVIN:The 4 best things about being a dentist (according to dentists)
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Seminar savings: Save $50 on doctor tuition for Dr. Roger Levin’s “Ignite Your Productionseminaron March 31 in Kansas City, or on April 22 in Towson, Maryland.Use code DET50 during sign-up to receive your savings. To register or to learn more, go to

This article first appeared in DE's Expert Tips & Tricks. To receive enlightening and helpful practice management articles in this e-newsletter twice a month, visit