Dentists, what if we told you there are ways for your practice to experience a great volume of successful transactions while making the patient experience its best too? Welcome to the blog, where today we’re going to teach you how to improve collections turnaround!
As a dentist, you must always walk a tightrope. At all times, you are both responsible for the oral health of your patients and the financial health of your business. It can be an overwhelming balancing act, to say the least.
One part of this balance that can prove a particular challenge is collections. You want to make your patients feel secure, heard, and even happy when they’re in your environment. After all, it can be difficult to provide the best dental care if they are loath to walk through the door. And for many, talk of money is a stressor, so it can feel counterproductive. Yet, of course, you must be paid!
So, let’s dive into our top four tips to improve collections in your practice!
#1: Get Savvy with Payment Tech
Nowadays, it is rare to find a business that doesn’t take credit cards. But the beauty of technology (and we’re being a touch sarcastic here) is that as soon as you’ve mastered the new innovation, it has moved past you!
Today, patients will increasingly expect to be able to use Apple Pay and Google Pay to carry out their transactions. A recent article from TechCrunch noted the pandemic’s influence in making mobile payment a preference for more people. They note that last year, “92.3 million U.S. consumers age 14 or older used proximity-based mobile payments at least one time during a six-month period.” The piece goes on to emphasize that a large percentage of those users were Gen Z-ers, who, we’ll remind you, continue to age into taking responsibility for their own dental care. In fact, some hair salons even allow tipping through Venmo now! You’ll want to do your research on that one, as recent tax law developments might make it more trouble than it’s worth, but people sure do love the convenience of mobile payments.
And that is the name of the game: convenience! When you make payment seem easier and more fluid, you encourage patients to pay right away.
#2: Offer Multiple Options for When to Pay, Too
We don’t mean “now or later” though. Because that of course could go on forever and doesn’t help you improve collections. No, what we’re talking about is financing. This has long been a standard practice among cosmetic dentists and orthodontists. As they perform procedures reaching amounts that are often considered unattainable for the average person, patients almost always have the option of submitting a down payment, signing a contract, and paying a certain amount monthly.
But who's to say a family practice couldn’t do this too? You don’t even have to change much to manage it! How? Well, if you don’t already take CareCredit payments, that is a great place to start! But also consider options like Guaranteed Payments, from companies like Varidi. It allows for a payment to be guaranteed to go through without checking the patient’s credit, so it keeps things fluid for you, but acts as backup for the patient who might not have it all in their account or have another avenue of credit ready to go.
You could also decide to offer in-house financing, the way many of those cosmetic and orthodontic specialists do! Of course, this does contain more risk for you, as your practice will be responsible for hunting down payments and involving lawyers if something goes awry.
#3: Consider Dental Membership Plans in That Mix
Additionally, you could offer patients another way to pay over time. It might not get you the full cash up front, but it is going to produce a steady stream of payments monthly, which is always a great cash flow proposition for a business.
Yep, we’re talking about dental membership plans! This will demand a little more time from you up front, because you’ll need to establish your plan, train your team, create marketing materials, and set up a system of keeping track of members (although you could use a platform like DentalHQ to do that; wink, wink!). Still, once all of that is accomplished, you’re left with a system that keeps itself running in your practice’s best interests and naturally keeps cash flowing.
Because it creates a subscription structure, it keeps everyone happy. Your patients have a way to pay in more manageable monthly chunks and they don’t have to think about it every time they visit. You receive a steady stream of revenue. Win-win.
#4: Use Marketing Channels to Your Advantage
We’ve published a number of blog posts discussing the various ways you should be marketing your practice. Among them, we’ve discussed the importance of social media and the best ways to utilize two-way texting.
But even if your practice is taking advantage of these options for the sake of marketing content, you may not be thinking of them as ways to lock in payment. Well, you should be!
On the social media front, you won’t be as direct, but connecting with your patients on the platforms they probably scroll a lot (maybe even multiple times per day) will keep you on the brain. Many people simply forget about their bill. You send them notice in the mail, they open it, set it on a pile, and before you know it, it’s been another month. But if that same person saw a post from you on social media a day after they opened that bill, they might think, “Oh that’s right, I better call and pay that before I forget again!”
When it comes to two-way texting, you can get even more savvy to improve collections. Firstly, you really can be super direct and personal. Sending a text that says, “Oops, we haven’t received your payment!” is completely reasonable. Second, you can link them back to what they need to do, with a prompt that starts a direct call or guides them to an online portal for payment.
We feel that these four techniques will undoubtedly improve collections for your practice.
And when that happens, you can feel more assured of your business’ financial health, which means you’ll be able to focus more on your patients.
Not to mention, practices that have fewer patients with outstanding bills are practices with front office teams that aren’t completely overwhelmed by the number of dunning calls they need to make. You could even use this to a further advantage, by transitioning some of the time they would have spent chasing payments into marketing time! Maybe someone can even take more of a leading role when it comes to your social media.
If you want to learn more about how DentalHQ could help you with the dental membership plan part of things, visit our home page!