Simple things you can implement in your practice today to make managing collections less of a hassle.

The beginning of a new year is a great time to evaluate your practice. What worked great in your office in 2021? What needs to be improved in 2022? Many offices struggle when it comes to collections. The goal should be to collect 97 percent of your production.

Here are some tips to help your practice achieve that goal.

Have a designated team member who is responsible for collections. They should dedicate a portion of every day to contacting insurance companies and patients with past due balances. They can use the Aging Report, Insurance Aging Report, and Collections Manager in the Dentrix Office Manager as tools to assist them.

Document all communication regarding collections. Make a habit of using Guarantor Notes in the Dentrix Ledger to record the details of financial arrangements you make with a patient. That way you can refer to your notes to make sure they are keeping their commitment. You can create a payment agreement in Dentrix to help with the financial burden of a large balance, if needed.

Collect from patients at the time of service. Payments made for procedures on the date of service are considered over-the-counter collections. The goal should be for 35 percent of collections to be over-the-counter collections. You can customize payment types in Dentrix for over-the-counter collections, for example ATS (at time of service) Check Payment, ATS Cash Payment, ATS Visa Payment, and so forth. Over-the-counter collections are tracked by the Practice Advisor Report. You can assign the payment types you created to be over-the-counter collection payment types in the Practice Advisor Setup, then generate the report monthly to see if your practice is meeting the goal.

Have a clear payment policy and that everyone in the office sticks to. I’ve heard many offices say things like, “I tried to collect from the patient, but the doctor had told them they can make payments,” or, when trying to collect from the patient, having them say, “The doctor told me he’ll give me a discount.” If your payment policy is ambiguous, it makes it difficult for the team to enforce. Create a clear policy with your team and communicate it to your patients on their new patient paperwork. For example, you can create and enforce policies that state patient payments are due at the time of service, or accounts over ninety days past due will be forwarded to a collection agency.

Collections can be challenging for some offices, but successfully maintaining accounts receivable is vital for a healthy practice. The new year is a chance for a fresh start, and if you don’t feel that your office is meeting collection goals, it may be time to evaluate your payment policies and procedures to see if there is room for improvement.

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By Charlotte Skagg, Certified Dentrix Trainer

Charlotte Skaggs is the founder of Vector Dental Consulting LLC, a practice management firm focused on taking offices to the next level. Charlotte co-owned and managed a successful dental practice with her husband for 17 years. She has a unique approach to consulting based on the perspective of a practice owner. Charlotte has been using Dentrix for over 20 years and is a certified Dentrix trainer. Contact Charlotte at [email protected].