Dental Aging Report Trends Reveal Problems
Dental aging report trends jump out at us when we work the patient aging reports each week. And there are several things to watch financially in our dental practices. But in addition to leading us to missing money, our patient aging reports are great trend indicators too! We can spot a trend when we see something that repeatedly shows up. And then the trends we see allow us to make adjustments to improve our current status or condition. And hopefully avoid future financial mishaps or understandings.
What trends might we see in the patient aging reports? We might see several patients with balances from restorative appointments. These patients paid their estimated portion at the time of service, and still there is a balance. Begin with asking why. Let’s say you are looking at all patient balances over 30 days. Review each individual account and ask why is there a balance at all? And if there are more than one patient with the same situation, that is where you find a trend or a pattern. A trend isn’t something you see one time. Another example might be if several patients had denied claims due to waiting periods. We would then need to look at that. Are we asking about waiting periods when we verify insurance? Is there something more we can do? It’s important to take the responsibility to identify the problem and then fix it.
Numbers never lie. And our judgement can be off. So to avoid being in the wrong, it’s a great idea to investigate. For example, let’s say one patient account has a balance after insurance payment for their most recent filling appointment. Why does the patient have a balance?Did we have the correct insurance benefits? Maybe the insurance maxed? Or did the patient not bring their wallet? Perhaps the dentist added a composite restoration to the treatment plan that wasn’t initially estimated!
Keep going with the “why” until you can’t do it anymore. When you get to the final answer, that’s where the detective work comes to an end. Then you want to have some type of tracking system. I recommend that you keep it simple. And we don’t want to spend a ton of time creating elaborate spread sheets. Unless of course you do. And you might just want to track these trends and monitor things. Especially if you find you do have a receivables problem that isn’t going away. Or maybe a new team member that needs some additional training and support.
Tracking Your “Why”
Take a sheet of blank paper and divide it into different columns. You don’t need a lot of space under each heading of a column. Because we are only going to make a single line to mark “one” under each column heading. Here are some examples of headings you may want. But of course, it is going to depend on what you find in your patient balance reports.
Examples of Dental Aging Report Trends
Statement Never Sent. It’s possible that for some reason a statement wasn’t sent to the patient. And now their balance is over 30 days. Now, hopefully you’ve identified the “why” to this as you did your detective work here. Send the statement now. But if you find more than one account like this, you have a trend. Not only do you want to ask “why was no statement sent?” but also “why is there a balance?”.
Patient Balance After Insurance. Calculated Benefits Incorrectly. This is important to know. Because it helps us to do better. Take a look at the insurance explanation of benefits. And review the insurance benefits. Is there something we didn’t understand that now is clear. It might be that you noted this when the insurance payment came in. But if there are two accounts or more like this, a trend presents itself here. Remember, the idea is to learn from this. Not to criticize even ourselves.
Patient To Pay Remaining Balance At Final Appointment. Another possibility, is that the office has divided the patient portion into more than one installment. And the patient intends to pay the final balance at their final appointment. This is easily explained. And as long as the patient does this, there is nothing to gain from this. However, if there is a patient who didn’t follow through, this is something to look at more closely.
Corrections In Collections
Dental aging report trends are best caught early. Print these reports weekly to avoid a much bigger problem later on! In a larger dental practice, an office manager may track these reports and numbers. In a smaller dental practice, it might be a dental front office team member. It helps who ever works on accounts receivables or in collections to see these reports and understand the results. And it’s even better if the front office team member, office manager, and dentist can meet once a week to discuss the highlights of these reports.
The more communication, the better! Talk together about what’s going on with patient accounts. Be open and honest and work together to resolve issues. It might mean that a team member needs a little more coaching or training. Or maybe things somehow got really out of hand and you find yourself in a situation you are not sure how to right.
Please let me know if I can be of help. If you need another set of eyes to look at your patient aging reports, I can help. If you suspect there is a problem, then most likely there is. There are various courses and e-books available here. Or if you are looking for some additional training or coaching, there are also great options for you. We can look at your needs and decide on a course of action that works for you. Contact me here!
Watch For Dental Patient Aging Trends Early On!
Dental aging report trends are best diagnosed early on. Kind of like dental decay. It’s easier to repair, less costly, and less time consuming if you can diagnose the problem early on. This is one of the reasons I recommend looking at patient balances as early as 30 days overdue. If you wait until patient balances are over 60 days, there are typically more patient accounts. And even more problems. So catch this early on.
Therefore, I tackle patient balances over 30 days twice a month. The first Tuesday of the month and the last Tuesday of the month. Yes, I know that means we look at these two weeks in a row. But there is a reason behind this. The last Tuesday of the month, we check this over 30 day column again before we close the month. It helps improve collections for the following month. And gives you one more chance to reach out to a patient in the current month if you need to.
Most likely you won’t have many new accounts to review each time. Unless of course you have some big issue going on. And remember that the idea is to prevent any patient balances from rolling over to the over 60 and over 90 day columns. Keep the balances down and improve patient relationships. That’s the plan!