If you don’t manage cash flow properly it will ultimately become more difficult to provider proper care to your patients.
Increasing cash flow in the practice is crucial in maintaining the financial health of the practice. Listed below are my Top 7 ways to increase the cash flow of a practice. Implementing these strategies will help your profitability and add to your revenue cycle management objectives.
1 – Acquire accurate and up-to-date patient data.
During the new patient phone call, make sure you collect the following patient information. Patients will ask financial questions, but you should save those for the end of the call and make sure you have this information so you can get in contact with the patient.
- Legal name
- Phone number
- Preferred method of contact
- Emergency contact
2 – Ask for payment.
Like the old saying goes, “If you don’t ask, they won’t pay.”
3 – Include previous balances in the amount due today.
At the beginning of every day, research patients appointed on the schedule and find out whether any patients has a previous balance. Include any previous balance amount with amount due at patient appointment.
4 – Inform before you perform the dentistry.
Once treatment is diagnosed, discuss estimated payment due BEFORE patient’s appointment is scheduled. Informed patients pay their bill while surprised patients get upset that they have a balance.
When estimating patient portion after insurance payment, be sure to inform the patient that if insurance pays less than estimated, you will send the patient a final statement.
5 – Have a written protocol for financial arrangements.
This will help the patient understand your financial policies and ultimately take responsibility for paying their balance.
- Create signage in your office stating something like, “Ask about our flexible financial arrangements” for patients who are more visual.
- Offer outside financing for those patients needing to fit their balance on a monthly payment schedule.
- Discuss estimated amounts due and discuss payment amount due with patients BEFORE the dentistry is performed.
6 – Change the payment guidelines to work for you.
There is no need to send advanced warning letter that you will be changing your guidelines. Collecting balances requires an effort from the whole dental team. Create a process that works for your practice.
If patient isn’t prepared to pay on the day of service or are used to “just receiving a statement” the following verbal discussion will be impactful:
“Mr. Patient, we understand you aren’t prepared to settle your balance today. I have prepared a complimentary statement for you. I have included a payment envelope and secured a stamp on the envelope. If you wouldn’t mind, please send balance in within the next five days, and if I don’t receive it, I will personally follow-up with a phone call. If you would like, you can even call our office and make payment over the phone.”
7 – Follow up and follow through.
Utilize Dentrix to help you follow up on cash flow. Receive ongoing training for your practice management software and any eServices you use to make sure you are using all the tools available to you.
- Update payment tables upon posting insurance payments.
- Use the Collection Manager to facilitate timely collection of balances.
- Set a deadline for patient payment and specific due date of balance.
- Create a protocol for how many statements will be sent before collection action and if the account becomes uncollectable, take collection action.
- Set aside time specifically to follow up on past due accounts.
If you want to dive deeper into the Dentrix Collections Manager, see the following:
- Use the Collections Manager to Find Patients Who Have Missed a Payment
- Hiding Patient You’ve Already Contacted from the Collections Manager List
- Four Key Reports to Target Accounts Receivable
By Lois Banta, Founder, Banta Consulting, Inc.