How to Generate More Income for Your Practice in 2023 – Part 2
A foundation of trust is laid during patients’ initial phone calls to your practice. Your practice needs to continue building that trust with patients long after the call has ended.
Financial conversations are one area that, when mishandled, can lead to a massive breakdown of trust between patients and your practice. Providing expectations surrounding finances and presenting treatment clearly and concisely is essential for patient retention.
Having a patient financial policy in your new patient paperwork is essential for setting the tone for how your practice handles financial situations. This policy should outline how and when payment is expected, what forms of payment are accepted, any other fees your practice may issue, and what happens if the terms of the financial policy are not upheld.
However, setting clear financial expectations is not limited to just your patients. Creating a staff-facing financial policy is equally important. Your team members need to be aware of the guidelines of the procedure as well as if you offer outside financing and on what terms. Specifically, which payment plans are offered, what terms are available, if discounts need to be issued, and at what dollar amounts are they authorized to issue without manager approval, etc. If your team and patients are clear on the standard financial policies in your practice, the conversations will be much easier for all involved.
Part of our job as dental professionals is educating patients on dental insurance and how it works. To accurately provide estimates to patients, there needs to be a protocol surrounding benefit verification. Standardizing this process and including it in your staff-facing financial policy will ensure that the correct information is collected. Proper verification of benefits, including the carrier’s policy surrounding the assignment of benefits, will be important to providing patients with accurate treatment plans.
When you go to a mechanic, and they give you an estimate, you can assume that when you pick your car up, you will pay what was quoted at that time. When we present treatment by giving patients their “estimated patient portion” and insurance pays differently than expected, patients are upset (and rightfully so.) Many offices feel that presenting the entire cost of the treatment will be overwhelming to the patient and affect case acceptance. What they fail to think about during this time is patient retention, word-of-mouth reviews, and the No Surprises Act.
When presenting treatment, sharing the total cost of the treatment and letting the patient know that they may be responsible for up to the full amount of treatment will allow your patients the opportunity to make a more informed decision.
Patient satisfaction and retention are vital for increasing your practice revenue.
Sending a bill your patient was not expecting is one of the fastest ways to deteriorate their trust in your practice. Many practices believe they are doing their patients a favor by having vague financial conversations. With the current economic situation, that is not the case. While having these conversations may be uncomfortable as your team adjusts to being more up-front about money, your patients will thank you in the long run.
Create financial policies for both patients and staff that review:
- When is payment is expected
- What payment options are available
- The repercussions of non-payment
- Authority the admin team has for creating payment plans and issuing discounts
Verify eligibility and benefits regularly by determining:
- Who is responsible for verifications
- How often are verifications completed
- What is being verified each time
Collect patient consent for the full cost of treatment. For example:
- “Mr. Smith, your filling will be $380. However, we are expecting insurance to pick up 50% of that. We will ask you to bring $190 to your appointment, and if insurance pays differently than we anticipate, we will send a bill to your email address on file.”
About the Author
Brittany Rogars, FAADOM, is the owner of SKF Practice Solutions and the founder of the Smiley Kylie Foundation. In 2017 she entered the dental field after a decade of customer service and management, developing her skills and pursuing her passion for dentistry. Brittany is a self-proclaimed CE addict, using her knowledge to serve offices nationwide. She has been a member of AADOM since 2019 and earned her AADOM Fellowship (FAADOM) designation in 2022. She is on track to make her AADOM Mastership (MAADOM) designation at the 2023 AADOM conference in September. Brittany enjoys soap making, reading, and traveling with her family when she isn’t busy at work.