Thursday, January 4, 2018

Preparing for Successful Accounts Receivable

So what’s first on your January checklist for 2018? If you are looking at your year end report and thinking improving the cash flow in the office and bringing down the accounts receivable is a good place to start, then let’s tackle that first. Managing your accounts receivable is a team approach and having a system in place is critical to the success of your practice. You can treat patients all day and increase your production, but if you don’t have a system to collect the patient’s portion, you could find yourself struggling to make payroll in the middle of the month.

In this day and age, we must be able to prepare an accurate treatment plan estimate by using the most up-to-date insurance information we can obtain and be able to offer financial options for our patients, so they can afford treatment. You will build trust with your patients when you can be open and honest about the limitations of insurance benefits and help patients budget for the expense of dental care. Creating a system for this process is a combination of using outside third-party information, new verbal skills for your team and holding patients accountable for payment.

Locating the most up-to-date insurance benefit information has become one of the most time-consuming tasks in the dental office and a necessary one if you want to be able to offer information to your patients and give a more accurate estimate. We all know, however, this information is not 100% accurate and is always only an estimate. The way we collect this information in the dental office has gotten better over the years and now the team spends less time on the phone waiting for a customer service representative to provide the details of the dental benefits. The DentrixeCentral Insurance Manager has really been able to bridge the gap between the dental practice and the insurance companies. What I am seeing in the dental practices I work with is that the Dentrix Insurance Manager is the first line of defense and then the team may have to use the insurance company website for a couple of insurance companies that have chosen not to participate. The details received from the insurance companies through eCentral or the online insurance portal are totally sufficient for preparing a treatment plan estimate for the patient.

With the right verbal skills, the financial coordinator can present the treatment plan without having to send in a pre-estimate or call the insurance company for more details.

Here are some examples of one sentence add-ins that can make a huge impact in your presentations.

               “Based on the information we received from your insurance plan, we are estimating your out of pocket will be ___________” (I always give the patient a print out of the eCentral insurance benefits and save a copy to the Document Center).

               “This estimate is formulated from the information we receive directly from your insurance company and your estimated out of pocket will be _____.”

After you schedule the patient for the treatment, it is important to communicate the patient out of pocket for that appointment, so your entire team will know how much the patient owes that day. It is good to put the co-pay in a place that the entire team has access to and is very visible. My favorite place is in the appointment note because it will show up as a little musical note on the appointment book and also it will print on the patient Route Slip or patient Visit Form.  With the new DentrixPay add-on you can even store the patients credit card for easier payment at check-out.

Finally, you will have patients who end up with a balance even when you prepare the best estimate and you need a system to follow up and manage these balances. My favorite report for managing account balances is the Collection Manager report. You can filter this report and generate a report that gives you exactly what you want to see. This report is fantastic because you can see the last statement date, the last payment date, the aging and many more details. What I love about this report is that you can work it directly from computer and not print it. You have all the tools you need on the toolbar to make notes in the Office Journal, send a collection letter from the Quick Letters and view the ledger. 

If you want a tip sheet on the Collection Manager, please CLICK HERE to email me directly. In my next blog, I will tackle how to monitor your production goals in Dentrix so this year can be your most productive year yet.

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