185 Training Dental Team to Collect Payment - What To Say to Patients


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Hi everyone. I hope that you are having a fabulous day. Welcome to another episode about Delivering WOW Dental Podcast. Today, we're talking about how to train our teams to collect payments well. So, this is a topic that a lot of people struggle with. A lot of people will struggle because they're not even quite sure how to have collections come in. And so, I wanted to share a few things with you that hopefully will be super helpful for you as you are navigating your practice ownership and becoming a better business owner.

So, one thing that we look at in terms of our collections is really making sure that we have a solid system for knowing if our collections are getting out of control. And unfortunately, what happens way too often is that people have a revelation one day, maybe you listen to this podcast and you go and you look at your collections and you're like, "Oh my gosh. Our AR is crazy and we need to work on it. Now, we need to hire a company to help us fix it." And it never had to be that way.

And so, typically, when you see AR or you see collections, what has happened is that you did not have a system for seeing where things were not paid on time and you're waiting too long to now have a patient know that they have a balance and now you're embarrassed to call them. Or perhaps you actually misquoted from the very beginning. Or perhaps you did not have good follow-up, right? With claims. And so, there you are chasing them. And so, the first thing that I do recommend is actually to utilize, say system, to be able to track your AR week to week, right?

One of the things that has been really effective in my practice and for many of you who are in our platinum program is actually having your scorecard. And so, one of the numbers that we're actually looking at weekly is our AR. And so, the question is, if we have a situation where our account's receivable is out of control, what are easy ways that we can get it in? How do we get our team to collect payments? What do they say? What's the process? And so, one thing that I wanted to share with you today is actually a process called amnesty.

Now, how does that work? Well, say for example, you have realized now that your account's receivable is $50,000 or it's $20,000 or a hundred or 10 or whatever amount. And many of the accounts are over 60 days, right? So many times what will happen is that a practice will turn those accounts over to a collection agency or they will say, "You know what? I don't like seeing this number. And so, I'll just erase it. I'll just write off these accounts and I'll just start fresh. And we won't have this problem again."

Which means that you're writing off maybe $50,000 and that could have perhaps paid for your kids to go to college for one year, right? And so, this is definitely not something that you want to do, right? So, there is a better way. So, with an amnesty program, how it works is that you are actually contacting those patients that have that overdue balance and you're letting them know that their account has actually come up for audit, right? And so, what that means is that you're giving them a courtesy call that their account has come up for audit but you're calling actually to help them out and to clear it up.

And so, what you want to do is instead of actually charging the full fee, right? Perhaps they have a balance of a thousand dollars. Instead, what you will do is to help them out, you will actually go ahead and lower the amount that they have to pay. That will help them and it will prevent them from having to go to collections, right? So, what that means is that you are reducing your fee and you will not have to now deal yourself with a collection agency. And typically, as accounts go to collections, many times they never become collectible or we're not getting very much. And so, this gives you that opportunity to get that cash flow back in.

So, how are we actually getting in touch with our patients, right? So, sometimes I'll hear, "Well, patients are not responding. They see our calls and they're not picking up." And so, a few things that you can look at is certainly using other methods to be able to get in touch with your patients. Obviously, phone is great because you can have that direct communication. And while you're on the phone, you're going to want to go ahead and get their credit card and let them know, "Once we clear this up today, we can go ahead and take off and you will save $225. For example, once you settle this today, we do take American Express and Visa and Mastercard, which of those three cards would you like to use today?"

All right? So, again, I've said today probably about four or five times. And so, that's some of the verbiage that you'll look at. But if you're not getting them on the phone, a few things that you can do is you can certainly look at sending out text message or email letting them know that there is an urgent message from their dentist and or from doctor and put in the name and that you need to speak to them today. "So, please contact us today. There's something urgent that we need to discuss," right?

And so, you're putting that word in there, urgent. We want to talk to you today and hopefully with that, you will get them to actually contact you right away. So, you definitely want to do that. And sending out one email mail and saying, "Well, they didn't get back to us," is not enough. As we know, people are typically not opening all of their emails. So, you'll want to make sure that you're following up with that. But ideally, what you're wanting to do is definitely get the person on the phone.

Hopefully, you're also getting a work number for your patients. And so, if they wind up in this situation, another option is to contact them with their alternate number. So, hopefully, this serves you and helps you. I have seen a lot of practices who have really gotten into a lot of trouble with their collections and they weren't quite sure how to get over it. And again, the last thing that you want to do is just say, "You know what? I'll just write it off and I'll just start fresh." That's different. Definitely not where you want to go. Okay? So, hopefully this serves you.

And again, in terms of training your team to collect payment, what you want to also let them know is that number one, they can do it. Number two, not every patient is going to have the ability to say yes right away. And so, you will get some people saying, "Man, I'd love to do that but I don't have the ability." In which case you can look at, "Okay. Well, let's look at giving them a second option," right? And that could be something like, "Your balance is a thousand dollars. Are you able to go ahead and do $50 a month?" And then from there you can set up for them to go ahead and have that financed over time with a third party.

So, definitely want to make sure that you have multiple options for them. But again, the key point, which is where we started is that you want to have a system. You don't want to get yourself into a position where you have to even be thinking about amnesty or thinking about collections. Once you have a good process where you are actually very aware of the fee that you will receive on the day of payment or a day of service, then you should not have this AR accumulating.

Again, making sure that you have good communication. Once you are accepting insurance, what is the amount that you expect to come from the insurance and how much would the patient actually pay, right? Having good processes. Again, looking at it weekly allows you to catch things as they're slipping through the cracks before it comes too late. Thanks again for listening to another episode of our Delivering WOW Dental Podcast. I can't wait to connect with you inside of our Dental Boss Movement Facebook group. And to get access to that group, all you have to do is go to dentalbossmovement.com.

Thanks so much for listening to this episode of the Delivering WOW Podcast with Dr. Anissa Holmes.

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