I have worked in two different dental practices in my career and, since I have been a Dentrix trainer, I have observed the different methods of how dental practices deal with the accounts they send to collection. It seems like there are many different philosophies and methods when dealing with collection accounts. Today, I want to spell out a few things that I recommend you do when sending an account to collection.
- Take the account out of the “general population.” What I mean by that is make sure this account does not come up on your Accounts Receivable Report, billing statement run, or finance charge generation. You definitely do not want to be sending any more billing statements or applying any more finance charges to this account. To do this in Dentrix, I would suggest changing the account billing type to “Sent to Collection." The billing type in Dentrix is attached to the entire account. You can change it from the Family File by double-clicking on the box that contains the billing type (see image below) or on the Ledger where you can set up Payment Agreements. Then when you run a report or generate billing statements you can exclude this billing type.
- In addition to taking the account out of your “general population,” I would also inactivate the account so it does not come up in your regular searches. When you inactivate an account/patient in Dentrix, change the status to Inactive, take out all continuing care types, and reject any unscheduled treatment plans. This will ensure that the patient will not show up in the Continuing Care lists or the Treatment Manager Report.
- My recommendation is to dismiss the patient from the practice. I realize this might be a bit harsh, but if this not done, you are still considered his or her dentist. If this patient calls for an appointment, you legally cannot deny him or her. Of course you can collect cash at the time of service, but this patient/family has already cost you about 40% in fees to the collection agency. The dismissal must be done in writing. If you would like a copy of my dismissal letter, I would be happy to share it with you if you e-mail me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The last step is where I see the most difference in philosophy ... whether to adjust off the balance or leave it on the account. If you adjust off the balance at the time you send the account to collection, you would need to make a positive adjustment to add the balance back in and then make the collection agency payment to offset the adjustment. If you do not adjust off the balance at the time you send the account to collection, make the payment on the account and an adjustment for the fee the collection agency charged when you receive the payment. In my office, I keep the balance on the account until I receive the payment from the collection agency. I would check with your accountant to see how it should be done in your practice.
Hope this helps and gives you a more set protocol on how to handle collection accounts. Hopefully you don’t have to deal with this situation very often, but when it does come up, it is good to know what steps need to be taken.