By Lisa Philp, RDH, President of Transitions Group North America
Once the dentistry has been diagnosed, planned and presented, we must find ways to fit the financial investment comfortably into the patient’s budget and individual financial situation.
Do you have a proactive financial policy that the entire team both understands and can present to the patient, at any time, no matter what role they play in the practice? Does the team understand why billing can no longer be a part of the practice philosophy and that fee for service will maintain the practice’s level of excellence?
Extended financial arrangements and flexible payment options can increase the amount of comprehensive treatment being accepted without putting the practice at financial risk. It is best to discuss complex financial arrangements in a private consultation room or a private area away from the patients in the reception area, as people consider their finances very private. The objective is to create arrangements based on a written policy that works for the patients and the comfort level of the practice.
Dealing with patients concerning money is not always comfortable, yet an important and necessary job. Developing an organized, systematic approach for collecting fees for services rendered is imperative. It needs to be firm, yet non-confrontational. Is the policy consistent, clearly written and signed by the patients prior to treatment, with options that include cash, check, major credit cards, and a third party financing company?
Consider offering patients a 5% cash courtesy, or accounting reduction for prepayment when scheduling treatment. This option allows the money to be deposited in the bank before the treatment is rendered. Because of this, you are happy to pass along the 5% savings due to the saved time in confirmation, collections and receivable management. If the patient pre-pays they are assured to show up for their scheduled appointment and this reduces stress in the scheduling department. Be aware if insurance is involved; the reduced fee must be submitted and communicated to the insurance company.