Linda Drevenstedt, RDH, MS, outlines 12 steps you can take to make better financial arrangements with patients, and therefore improve your bottom line.
1. Have an internal financial arrangement written protocol. This keeps everyone on the same page when discussing financial arrangements with patients. The protocol should include these topics:
- New patients with insurance and without
- Emergency patients first visit
- Insurance verification timeline and process
- Payment plan options
- Removable prosthodontic protocols
- Crown and bridge protocols
- Secondary insurance policy
- Financial discussion process — who, where, when, documentation
- Outside financing partner process
- Divorced patients and children of divorced patients
- Privileged patients: e.g., staff family, professional courtesy, list patients who get discounts, senior discount, etc.
2. Hold up your right hand and repeat this pledge: EVERY PATIENT HAS A FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENT BEFORE ANY DENTISTRY. No excuses!
3. Discuss financial arrangements with your emergency patients before you deliver any treatment. The dental assistant can discuss the options and make the financial arrangement after the anesthetic and before the procedure.
4. Document ALL financial discussions. Anyone on the team should know where this lives in the computer and be able to access it.
5. Post all treatment into the treatment planner in the computer. This is the duty of the clinical staff, not the front office staff. Link the patient's insurance plan to their account, so that the print out of the treatment plan is accurate. This takes conscientious effort to research their plan and percentages.
6. Take these five steps to make a PROPER financial arrangement:
- Review the treatment plan with the patient to clarify and answer any concerns. Have visuals, such as intraoral camera pictures, to effectively communicate the problem, then the solution and always include THE BENEFIT of the treatment. Know and understand how to communicate within the patient's behavior (DiSC©) buyer style.
- Review the prognosis if they do not have the treatment. A little FEAR can be a good thing.
- Quote the entire treatment fee without showing the patient the treatment plan printouts, YET! Ask if they would like to take advantage of your courtesy/bookkeeper saving by paying all upfront and receiving a 5% saving. Let them know the amount saved and the amount due. Then shut up!
- If they say they can't do that or ask about insurance, immediately SMILE and say, "No problem; let me work with you and your budget." NOW, show the treatment planner from the computer. Offer these alternatives: three to six months payment with a credit card or checking account guarantee, in-office financing partner such as CareCredit©.
- Document and have the patient sign any financial agreement.
7. Ask for "the money." Be prepared by reviewing each account the day before so that you can ask for the agreed-upon financial arrangement as they check out after the procedure. If they do not have the agreed-upon payment, ask for a credit card. If they have no credit card, give them a statement with an envelope and ask them to send the payment when they get home.
8. Keep your OTC, over-the-counter, collections at 40% to 50% of the day's production. Track this to be sure you are collecting effectively at the time of service.
9. Have an "on file" credit card agreement for patients who have small balances after insurance pays, such as for professional cleanings and fillings in a family practice. Use this protocol especially if you are on a lot of PPOs. Email me for a sample of this form, [email protected].
10. Be sure all removable prosthodontic procedures are paid for in full before the delivery. Paid-for dentures and partials fit better. Include four or five adjustments, and charge for any after that number.
11. Send statements to all patients even if insurance is pending so that there are no surprises when you send a statement for any insurance shortfall.
12. Have a private place for all financial discussions of treatment over $650 to $1,000. Have a computer with lots of visuals there for support. Be sure at least one staff member is trained as a treatment coordinator/financial coordinator. This is a must role for consistent financial arrangements and increased treatment acceptance.
Follow these 12 pointers to make better financial arrangements and make more $$$$$$$$$$$$$!
Linda Drevenstedt, RDH, MS, is president of Drevenstedt Consulting, LLC. She uses her wit and wisdom to coach, consult, and create courses that assist practices in reaching their potential by developing leadership in each person. Her experience spans dental assisting, dental hygiene, practice administration, and consulting, and she is a member of numerous speaking, consulting, and management organizations. Reach her at (800) 242-7648, send her an email at [email protected], or visit www.drevenstedt.com.