46% of dental practices consider past due patient balances to be a problem in their practice, and it’s a problem they want to fix! Only 22% of practices consider carrying past due accounts to be an “accepted way of doing business”. So why is it so difficult to get patient payments today? Here are 5 challenges to higher collection rates for dental practices.
1. Staff objections to talking about money or “hounding” patients for payment. Nobody likes doing this.
- Most dental staff members have not been trained in financial management, account receivable or collections. This often results in dental practices losing up to 4% of all production on patients who ultimately do not pay their bills. According to the Levin Group Data Center, at 60 days the chance of payment from a GP patient is below 10%.
- One challenge for dental staff in collecting money is that they are uncomfortable. Asking for payment goes against providing excellent customer service, being likable and creating a positive patient experience.
- If staff members are properly trained in the 4 Financial Options™ and the appropriate value creation scripting to use for each option their level of comfort and effectiveness increases almost immediately.
2. Staff member time constraints (perceived and real). Collections must be a routine system.
- Perceived – time management problems. Staff focuses on the urgent but not necessarily the important tasks.
- Real – staff members are busy. Have multiple jobs/tasks to complete on a daily or weekly basis.
3. Inconsistent systems caused by turnover, time off, etc.
- The number of new patients entering GPs is down by approximately 33% (Source: The Dental Economics/Levin Group Annual Practice Survey).
- The best systems will get the best results. Most practices design their systems more to make the days easy. They’re not designed for effectiveness or growth.
- Since most dentists do not work by establishing key targets they have no ability to design systems.
- Dentists are not taught the academic areas of business, leadership or sales in dental school.
4. Variation between team members. Lack of consistently sticking to the effective message.
- Performance of each staff member or department will have a direct impact on overall practice performance.
- The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
- Continual staff training is critical.
5. Collection calls always get “de-prioritized.”
- Develop a defined system. Example: Any patient who is one day overdue for payment will be called that day. Measurement and tracking also assist in helping individuals self-monitor their process and progress in regard to collection calls.
When you offer an automated process for collections, you will save time and money and reduce the burden on the staff. Automation also creates convenience for the patient since there are no set times for calling and making payment or bothersome checks to write or letters to mail. In a sense, this is a higher level of customer service.