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Dental Consultants Top AR Tips
1. Acceptable total A/R: One month of collections or less (12%)
2. A/R & pending claims. 20% over 30 days acceptable and dwindling.
>50% of AR in 0-30 days
<30% of AR in 30-60 days
<18% of AR in 60-90 days
<2% of AR in 90+ days
3. You want to see past due balances of 30, 60, and 90 days so that you can generate the correct letter or call as needed. You should also run an Insurance Aging Report at least weekly because you don't want those going past 30 days. Start collecting after 20 days. I recommend working the list weekly if not daily.
4. Once you get to 90 days the chances of collection are somewhere around 20% at best. If an insurance payment is not received within at least 30 days inform the patient so they have a chance to contact the insurance company to handle.
Note: Collection adjustments are basically limited to repayments, bounced checks, or a payment that was not posted accurately.
The sequence of steps Cambridge recommends for the management of your past due accounts in your dental practice are as follows:
2. Patient Call
3. 2nd Statement with note or letter
4. Patient Call
5. Past Due Letter
6. Patient Call
7. Last Notice – Demand Payment Letter. If no response after last notice, send memo to the doctor for review.
8. Collections/Legal Action
Below are several samples of the above letters. Follow these guidelines, but if you feel it would be appropriate, write a personal letter.
Allow two weeks between actions. For instance, if you send a statement to a patient, give him two weeks to respond. At that time if he hasn't called or sent a payment, then he should be called.
Whenever you talk or write to a patient, find out all you can about that person from the prior contact note. For instance, if the treatment chart has a notation in it saying the patient just had a baby, start the letter or conversation by saying:
"Hi, Janet! Congratulations on your new baby! That's great! Did you have a boy or a girl?" Then gently go into the reason you are writing or calling.
It is always more effective to start a conversation or letter in this fashion. This way, the patient gets the feeling that he/she is not just a dollar sign to you and that you really do care about him/her. The patient will also be much more apt to pay you than if you just said, "You owe $100.00. Payment is past due!”
The longer you work at one particular practice, the more you will get to know the patients and the easier it will be to put a personal touch in your collection techniques.
The following are some examples of what could be written on the bottom of a statement or in a personal letter to the patient.
Dear Mrs. Jones,
We just received the final payment from your insurance company for your bridge. They paid a little less than what was estimated, so you now have a small balance of $37.00. If you have any questions, give me a call. Otherwise, I've enclosed an envelope for easy payment today!
Dear Mr. Jones,
Thanks for your $20.00 payment on September 7th! This is just a reminder that your next payment of $50.00 is due on September 21st.
Our original agreement was for you to pay $50.00 every two weeks. Let's stick to that as closely as possible and your bill will be paid off in no time!
Dear Miss Jones,
Hello! How have your travels been? I'll bet it has been fun! Your insurance company has mistakenly sent a $675.00 insurance payment for your dental work to you instead of to our office. I doubt you've seen it yet, because you've been out of town. When you get home could you please send it in to us? Or better yet, come on in and drop it off. We'd love to hear about your travels! Also, you have a very small balance of $6.50. You can just enclose that in the same envelope.
Require patients to zero out any account balance before allowing them further appointments for crowns, etc. Once you get to 90 days the chances of collection are somewhere around 20% at best. You really want to keep all ARs, both insurance and patient, under 60 days. If you've thought about outsourcing your patient ARs the highly regarded Dental Practice Ninjas pick up patient ARs at 60 days.
Kevin Tighe, Cambridge Dental Consultants, Senior Consultant, got bitten hard by the business and marketing bug during long summer days working at his dad's Madison Avenue ad agency. After joining Cambridge as a speaker in the mid-1990s, Kevin went on to become Cambridge’s senior consultant and eventually CEO. Cambridge Dental Consultants is a full-service dental practice management company offering customized dental office manuals. Frustrated? High overhead? Schedule a chat with Kevin at
What Does A Dental Consultant Do? Charge?
Many dentists will tell you dental consulting works. If dental practice management firms had no worth or benefit they could not stand up to harsh economic realities for long. What a veteran dental consultant brings to the table are systems and protocols successfully implemented in other practices that have been improved and tweaked over many years. Top dental consultants talk and network with each other. They pay attention to what works and what doesn't work across all dental practices.
Marketing & New Patients
Practice management consultants generally have little marketing training or background.
Note: Cambridge'a consultants are Certified SEO and Ad Words Specialists
Dental Office Systems
Key systems dental consultants implement:
- New Patient Phone Call
- Insurance Processing
- New Patient Experience and Patient Education
- Financial Arrangements
- Unscheduled Treatment Followup
- Stat Monitoring
- Daily and Weekly Checklists
- General Policy Manual
You will not get much ROI from your dental consulting if your staff do not have your back. You do not beed a team of cheer leaders jumping up and down with enthusiasm, but you do need staff who are smart and take some pride and ownership in what they do. If there is more than the usual drama in your practice that needs to be sorted out before you will get any real results.
What gets monitored gets done.
The "big" obvious numbers are important to monitor, but when you look at them they are typically already "in the books". You want your team to concentrate and be accountable daily on the "small" stats that bring about the "big" stats. How many practice owners know how many calls were made to unscheduled patients each day or overdue re-care or inactive patients? Many dentists vastly underestimate how much daily "outflow" is needed to keep a schedule full. How may dentists know what % of slots were open in their hygiene schedule each day? How many know how many NP calls there were yesterday, who scheduled and if they end up showing up? More importantly how many staff know considering it's their job to do?
The only way to monitor what gets done is with daily stats especially for your weak areas. For example, one employee should be specifically responsible for calls to patients who are unscheduled, overdue re-care or need reactivation. Other staff can and should help in coordination with the accountable employee, but that employee accountable reports daily on a spreadsheet like this: 1. # of calls or personal texts sent 2. # of contact
3. # of appointments with name and date 4. # of arrivals
It is the employee who is either making themselves valuable to you or not. If they are doing so, dismissing them will never enter your mind. On the other hand, if they are not making themselves valuable, you will be doing them and yourself a favor by giving them the opportunity to find a practice or other employment that is a better fit for them.
What most practice owners are missing is not how to book an appointment but how to be effective leaders. The best systems in the world are useless if the staff do not comply. Good leaders know how to get staff to willingly follow through and comply. Agreement among all team members is key. Your written office policies should contain those agreements and should answer most questions staff come up with. Doing so will save you much time and simplify the management of your practice. Staff non compliance is a sure sign of poor leadership. The primary reason practices underperform is staff non compliance. Key traits of leaders. All it takes is discipline:
- Always keep a cool head especially when "under fire"
- Realize that all mistakes are an opportunity for you and your staff to learn.
- Set a good example.
- Always be learning.
- Take care of yourself.
- Fight the impulse to address multiple issue at the same time. Frantic activity creates spotty results.
$35.000.00 is the average fee for a one year program with dental practice management companies you are likely familiar with. For those companies that require you and your staff to travel to their facility or seminar you also need to add in the cost of travel, staff pay and lost production from time away from your practice.
Questions You Should Ask
- Do you and/or your staff have to travel or does the consultant come to you?
- Is the program mostly one on one consulting versus seminars or courses with multiple clients in attendance? There are advantages to both.
- If the dental consulting is one on one who will actually deliver the consulting? I recommend knowing who your specific dental consultant will be prior to signing on the dotted line.
- Is program based on a specific dental practice management system? You want to avoid cookie-cutter programs. Ensure the program will be tailor-made to fit your practice's specific needs.
- The cost (including travel expenses and downtime) is certainly not the only factor, everything else being equal, it is still a major factor to consider. It's unwise to pay too much, but it's worse to pay too little.
If you do a little homework it should be fairly easy to pick a reputable consultant that is a good fit for you and your practice.