Dental Office Accounts Receivable Management
Dental office accounts receivable management is no small task. However, on the other hand, it isn’t brain surgery either! In fact, consistent, systematic dental office accounts receivable can be quite repetitive.
Regardless, it is a necessary task. But one that is quite often put off… for maybe a better day. Maybe one day you will feel more like tackling the a/r reports. Maybe tomorrow will be a quieter day. Or just maybe, all the insurance companies and patients will just pay their bills and claims, and you won’t have to do it at all!
Truthfully, that’s not likely. And truthfully, almost all dental offices have some sort of receivables problem. I’ve seen offices that have trouble calculating true patient estimates well. I’ve seen offices that don’t send statements often enough. And I’ve also seen offices that aren’t consistent in reviewing their patient ageing reports.
Dental Office Accounts Receivable Are Common
The only way to avoid any type of accounts receivable issues would be to have all services paid in full at the time of service. I don’t know how many dental offices there are that operate this way. I’m willing to bet though that there aren’t very many. Every other dental practice that participates in any type of insurance billing or patient billing, is likely to hit some bumps along the way and see collection issues arise.
It doesn’t take long for a dental practice to slip into a place where the accounts receivable numbers increase and the collection numbers start to slide down hill. I’ve stepped into dental practices where for a season, things were going well. Then a new team member came aboard, and all the numbers went south.
Follow my plan & keep your accounts receivable down & your collection numbers up! Get this system down and you can focus your time and energies on bigger things. Ignore your dental office accounts receivable for too long, and you can honestly kiss that money good-bye!
Dental Office Accounts Receivable Takes Some Digging
DIGGING: The digging I’m talking about here is not the “liking” or “loving” kind of “digging” I’m talking about earth moving, ground breaking kind of digging! The kind where you bring a shovel! It is very easy to miss one little problem or “glitch” unless you are taking the time to truly “dig” in.
If you want to get to the bottom of your accounts receivable problems, you’ve got to get into it and dig deep! You will find this by running 2 reports. You will want to run your insurance ageing reports & your patient balance ageing reports each week.
Depending on what your reports look like, you might need more than a shovel. You might need an excavator! You’ll know what you need by looking at the total amounts due over 30 , over 60, and over 90 days.
The bigger those numbers are, the bigger tools you will need. If you need to bring in more team members to get through your reports in the beginning, do so. If you need to hire some part-time help until you get a handle on things, do so. Be willing to do whatever it takes to get things in order.
Another tool you will need is time! You may need to schedule some time outside of regular patient care if these reports show you will require some time to dig into each account to see what has happened with billing the insurance or patient billing. Keep in mind, that my Weekly Management Systems will show you how to really manage time well. You will feel like I’ve given you time!
Dental Office Accounts Receivable Discovery
DISCOVERY: Discovery is fun! I’m hoping you don’t find any fossils buried here in your reports, but you might! Discovery means you will uncover some things you didn’t even know existed. Look at each and every account. Take the time to really look here.
Insurance claims: When reviewing outstanding insurance claims, I consider anything over 30 days, overdue. I realize that some insurance companies take longer than others to pay. But it’s worth a phone call to double check. Follow up on all 30, 60, & 90 days.
30 day claims: Check with insurance to see if they have received the claim. If yes, when will it be paid? They might tell you the claim was denied, you just didn’t receive the denial. That happens all too frequently. Hopefully you can get a copy of the denial emailed or faxed to you. If they didn’t get the claim, check the member id#, claims address, make sure each and every piece of your claim is correct. Then send again if you have to. Maybe you can get a fax or email address and someone’s name to send it to. Be sure to get your claims representative’s name.
Patient accounts should also be carefully reviewed before you call any patients. Have adjustments been made correctly? Have payments been applied correctly? Is it clear where the patient balance has come from? Do you have the correct billing address for your patient? Have they received statements? How often are patient statements going out? There is a lot to managing this well. I do have some additional training available for you here.
Dental Office Accounts Receivable Discipline
DISCIPLINE: The BIG “D”. This final “D” can be the destroyer! Discipline or lack of it will either make it or break it for your accounts receivable problems. Successful dental office accounts receivable management takes discipline. It’s not hard. I honestly feel that if I can learn it, anyone can. Then once the systems are learned, they must be systematically followed. This also brings a sense of true accomplishment each week and each month as you work through reports and see accounts paid.
I have worked over the last 25 years in 7 different dental practices. Some of these have been single doctor, small private practices. Two of these practices were multi-specialty practices.
Several practices had multiple general dentists, and one multi-provider practice also had 2 locations. Every single one of these practices had huge receivables problems when I was hired. They were all in excellent financial condition when I left. My system works if you work it!