11.25.11 Issue #507 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
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How Do You Send Your Statements?
By Nancy Caudill, Senior Consultant McKenzie Management

How great would it be to never send another statement in your practice’s life? Even offices that claim to be “fee for service” discover that they have an Accounts Receivable - patients that owe them money! Imagine the surprise on the practice owner’s face when he sees the printed report with $35,256 on the bottom.

“How could that be? We don’t accept insurance benefits and my patients pay for their work when it is performed!”

The point is this - some form of communication must take place to those patients that leave the practice owing you money for your services. What options do you have? Telephone, email, text message, mailed statement - or now they may have the option of paying their account on your website.

Telephone communication will work for some patients that are comfortable giving their credit card number to you, or maybe you have kept it on file and simply need to ask their permission to apply the balance to the credit card information that is “on file.”  What happens, however, when the Financial Coordinator can’t seem to get the patient on the phone during your office hours? Apparently the patient works the same hours. And let’s not forget that if the patient elects to mail their payment - where is the elusive envelope?

Email contact is an option, as well. Again, what if the patient “has” an email address but never really checks it? And still no envelope to mail a check and still the concern of giving a credit card number over the internet. Text messages also have the same challenges.

So this brings us to the “old fashioned” way of informing your patients of the services that were provided, how much has already been paid, if any, and their balance that is due on a certain date. Since most of us accept the fact that this is still the most popular way of sending notices, let’s review the basic concepts of mailing statements.

Who Should Do The Mailing?
Years ago someone came up with the bright idea of handling statements just like insurance claims are handled - electronically to a clearinghouse! In case you are not aware of this wonderful service, here is how it works. Your Financial Coordinator “generates” the statements that are due to be sent through your dental software. Once the database is created for the statements, she has the opportunity to review the statements, add notes or even remove those statements that she doesn’t want to send, for whatever reason. The point is that she has complete control over which statements are sent.

Next, she “submits” electronically over the internet, the database to the eServices company that you have contracted with. This service could be through your software company or an independent service. The average fees per statement run from $.50 to $.65.  What a deal! Think about this - no printing statements and using paper and cartridge ink (and you know how expensive that is), no statements piling up with last week’s date on them because no one has had time to fold and stuff them into envelopes.  No expense for the return envelope AND they look very professional, usually with a perforated receipt and printed in color. Let’s not forget that you don’t have to keep rolls of stamps on hand or continually feed your postage machine. Life is good…

What Information Should Be Included?
Isn’t it aggravating when you receive a bill and the description for the service says Balance Forward?  What does “balance forward” tell me, as a patient? Nothing. So now the patient has to make a call to your office to ask the question: “Can you tell me what my bill is for?” If you don’t think that this happens, ask your Business Coordinators. A flood of calls come in right after the statements are sent, taking up their valuable time that should be spent “dialing for dollars” for unscheduled treatment or past due recall patients.

Here is how to stop that - there is a setting in your software that allows you to indicate how many days of activity you want to be printed on your statement. Simply change your statement setting to 45 or 60 days so the description will include the services provided, the patient payment, the insurance payment and now the balance due for the past 45 or 60 days. And think of all the phone calls it will eliminate.

How Often Should You Send Statements?
Daily - it is as simple as that. Your Financial Coordinator should generate and submit her first statement run on the 25th of the month. After that, she generates and submits the statements each day. Some days there will be no statements and other days there will be several.

Some practice management software programs automatically age accounts daily and others age when the month is closed or when the statements are generated. The software will ask if the accounts need to be aged - say “yes!”

Daily statements increase cash flow and decreases the time spent by your Financial Coordinator reviewing statements for the entire month.

Happy Billing…and collecting!

If you would like more information on how McKenzie's Consulting Coaching Programs can help you IMPLEMENT proven strategies, email info@mckenziemgmt.com.

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