Collections and Patients Healthy
Effective collections begins
with the basic understanding that your patients expect to pay today.
Make it easy for them to do so and not only will they pay they also
will be more open to pursuing both necessary and elective treatment.
the financial policy to all new patients in the patient packet.
And periodically remind existing patients in writing. This
can be handled through regular efforts to educate patients on new
services offered by the practice. Consider this, if you are introducing
or expanding whitening or
cosmetic dentistry services, use the opportunity to educate patients
on your specific financial options. They learn about both the expanded
services your practice provides as well as the convenient payment
options available. In addition, before any major treatment plan
begins, sit down with the patient and review the financial policy
with them to ensure that they understand the various options and
their payment responsibilities.
dismissing the patient, make it a point to educate them about the
extent of the treatment received. Provide details. For
example, “Mr. Collins, today doctor performed fillings
on three teeth that involved seven surfaces including medication
in each tooth and anesthetic.” When the patient is given
the opportunity to understand the extent of the dental care provided
they develop a greater appreciation for the value of that care.
you don’t get what you don’t ask for. Often
patients don’t pay because they have been trained to expect
a bill from the practice. In asking for payment, do not imply that
paying is an option; rather it is the form of payment that is the
option. “The charge for today’s restorative treatment
is $368. Will you be paying with cash, check, or charge? As a special
service to our patients, we are happy to submit your insurance claim
and the payment will come directly to you.” Insured patients
should be expected to pay all of their payment responsibility when
services are rendered unless their portion is over $200.
is not unreasonable to expect full payment for charges of $200 or
less, as long as you communicate that expectation to your patients
politely and in advance. However, for more costly procedures, be
prepared to provide convenient payment options that are beneficial
to both the patient and the practice, for example: Consider
offering a slight adjustment in the fees, such as 5%, for
more costly procedures paid in full. Refer to this as a bookkeeping
adjustment not a discount.
you’ve always billed me …” There will
be a small percentage of patients that will object to the new policy.
They can be handled with a gentle, direct explanation. “Mrs.
Jones because the practice is a small business we cannot extend
credit to patients. However, in an effort to ensure that patients
continue to have convenient payment options, the practice has partnered
(or other patient financing company). This company can provide zero
interest loans for up to 12 months for qualifying patients. I am
happy to make the arrangements for you.”
consistent. Avoid the temptation to allow Mrs. Jones to
just slide by. Before you know it, Mrs. Smith is slipping through
the policy, then Mary Jane, and you have once again undermined your
ability to maintain an effective financial policy.
you have any questions or comments, please email Sally McKenzie
in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club?
YOU FIND YOURSELF WAIST DEEP IN
HERE TO ANSWER THESE
10 EASY QUESTIONS
Dr. Nancy Haller
Dear Dr. Haller,
been hearing a lot about ‘coaching’ and don’t
understand why it’s so popular. Isn’t it just another
word for counseling?
Dr. Chicago, Illinois
Great question! You are right about the popularity of coaching.
Referred to as executive coaching in business
circles, coaching is the fastest growing consulting practice in
the United States. From the viewpoint of corporate leaders and shareholders,
the real reason that organizations use coaching is to improve
business results. Whether it is increasing customer loyalty,
retaining high-impact employees, or managing the change that is
inherent in business today, coaching enables leaders to impact bottom-line
benefits - growth in revenues and profits.
coaching, like psychotherapy, is aimed at helping people
to develop. Coaching and counseling appear alike in that you meet
and talk regularly. However, the difference is that people
who turn to coaches are highly functional, often star performers,
despite the fact that they still have room to improve.
Therapy on the other hand often occurs in the arena of dysfunction.
Based on the medical model, it presumes that the “patient”
has something wrong with him/her and the therapist’s job is
to “fix” them.
this common misunderstanding about coaching, it is natural that
managers and executives are sometimes reluctant to engage
an executive coach. They equate coaching with psychological
counseling. Rightly so, they don’t want someone probing into
their childhood issues, resurrecting painful emotions about the
past, diagnosing what’s wrong with them.
Leonard, founder of Coach University, a virtual university for personal
and business coaches, makes the following distinctions between coaching
experience has been that most achievement-minded people believe
that “hard work and doing it on your own”
are the keys to success. If you are reading this article, you already
are successful. Getting through an arduous academic training program
took a lot of resiliency, and you had to do it on your own. However,
the very things you learned about being a good dentist may not be
the things you need to know about running a business or leading
employees. Now you are both a dentist and CEO! Business
leaders, entrepreneurs, and self-employed professionals often find
themselves stretched outside of their experience range,
frequently with no one to talk to about important issues. A coach,
as an outsider with no political investment in your practice, is
free to address challenging issues in a constructive manner. To
quote many of my clients, “it’s lonely at the
top” and “I’m not sure who I can trust”.
entails working with people who already have a measure of success
in their lives but who want to improve aspects of their skill level,
productivity, or to realign with their dreams and personal values.
The foundation of a good coaching relationship begins right there
– identifying where you are now and where you want to go,
with specific goals and action steps to close the gap. Coaching
is not something done to you, but with you. The coaching process
is a partnership between you and the coach.
we see an athlete perform gracefully or an actor embrace a character,
we're seeing the value of coaching. If a single performance or sports
goal is worth using a coach to achieve, then how much more important
are our lives, goals, and dreams? Working with a coach keeps you
focused on what's important to you. That added focus almost always
results in reaching more of your goals and finding greater
joy in your life.
it's certainly true that you don't have to have a coach, consider
for a moment what you might do if you did have a coach,
with you weekly about your goals and progress
Listens for your possibilities
Helps you identify actions to overcome blocks and barriers
you to take steady steps forward
Holds the vision of what you, your practice, and your life can
your successes along the way
you use someone like that in your life? If you were to begin a coaching
partnership now, what two areas would you address with your coach
to begin working on together?
summarize, therapy moves people from dysfunctional to functional.
Coaching moves you from functional to exceptional.
Effective leaders continuously engage in self-development. Learning
requires support. Please let me know if I can be a support to you.
in having Dr. Haller speak to your dental society or study club?
her at firstname.lastname@example.org
DOES YOUR OVERHEAD
Belle M. DuCharme, RDA,
Director/ The Center for
Dental Career Development
woman dentist came to The Center for Dental Career Development for
Business Training Course from an established practice in Northern
California. She had been in practice for about ten years and the
practice had been growing at what she felt was
a steady pace until the last couple of months. Seeing holes in the
schedule and not having “full” days for several weeks
in a row had sent her into a panic mode. “I don’t
know what we are doing different to cause this slow down to happen.
My office manager says it’s just a temporary problem but I
don’t know why this happened. I need to
understand the business of my practice and that is
why I am here.”
questioning Dr. Frustrated for several minutes I discovered that
many things had changed in the practice to cause a shift
in scheduled production. She had been a PPO provider for
Guardian, MetLife and Delta DPO. In the last year she had dropped
all three programs. Most of these patients had pre-booked hygiene.
Upon finding out that she no longer was on the PPO network, they
cancelled or just didn’t show up for scheduled hygiene appointments
or treatment appointments. This caused chaos for the scheduling
coordinator to move people into the “holes”.
Being on the PPO network had provided her with “free”
external marketing. She did not replace this marketing
source. She had not been doing any internal marketing to build a
better patient base because she had been so busy with the PPO network
patients. She felt that her patients would stay with her regardless
of the insurance situation. If she had implemented internal marketing
and established a “value based” practice
this would be true. Dr. Frustrated did not know what her patient
retention rate was or how many active patients she actually had
in the files. She didn’t know what percentage of her
practice were on the PPO network before she dropped the
plans. Upon speaking to the scheduling coordinator I discovered
that hygiene was pre-booked solid for eight weeks with no blocked
times for new patients or perio therapy. The scheduling coordinator
mentioned that new patients had registered complaints
about having to wait so long for appointments. She had not told
this to Dr. Frustrated. The hygienists were not amused when told
a patient needing root planings had to wait for more than two months
for an appointment. Dr. Frustrated had cancelled staff meetings
because she felt the time was “unproductive”
and they were just too busy to “waste time”. There were
no morning huddles for the same reason. Dr. Frustrated had cut
herself off from her staff and their important feedback.
immediate concern for this practice was to get a patient retention
figure and an accurate number of active patients. I wanted to see
a patient referral report so that we could study the sources
of new patients. To my dismay, this information had not
been entered into the computer on a consistent basis. It was “skipped
over” by the scheduling coordinator because she was
busy. It is now mandatory and she is accountable for producing this
report monthly. We started a direct mail campaign
in the local new housing areas. Dr. Frustrated starting calling
her patients at night after difficult procedures. Thank-you notes
went out to all patients and doctors who had referred patients.
Starbucks™ cards or Blockbuster™ cards went out as rewards
to multiple referral sources. Lunches were arranged with local specialists
and other networking sources. A new greeting system
for patients was started with the scheduling coordinator standing
and greeting the patient by name. A wait time was announced to the
patient and the patient was asked if they would like coffee or water.
Several new internal marketing ideas were put into practice to replace
the “clinic” feel that had been there before.
chart audit brought several patients back to the
practice for treatment. Personal calls and inviting letters were
sent to desirable patients that were not scheduled. Many had said
they thought that Dr. Frustrated was too busy and they were in the
process of finding another dentist. They were thankful that they
had not been forgotten.
the practice is thriving and is free of PPO network
nightmares. Insurance claims are filed for patients but they pay
for deductibles and percentages at the time of treatment. Patients
tell the staff how happy they are to be patients in a practice that
Frustrated is no longer. Her new name is Dr. Aware.
She now understands the business of dentistry.
The Center For Dental Career Development in La Jolla, we teach you
the systems that run your practice and how to measure the performance
of each system. We replace “feelings” with the
facts. For more information, give us a call today.
M. DuCharme, RDA, CDPMA
YOU LIKE TO HAVE
Exceptional Front Office Employees?
than it is?. . .
. . . but not sure
where to start?
you have problems getting your patients to say “yes”?
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try to have a morning huddle about 5 minutes before the start of
the day. But they seem to be unproductive. Do you have any tips
on what should be covered and how to make them more productive?
to be discussed at your beginning of the day meetings should include:
Dr. Production for the day vs. goal
production vs. goal
Hygiene Production for the day vs. goal
Yesterday's production vs. goal
Today's New Patients
Time To Schedule Emergency Patients
Patient's with Financial Concerns
Past due family members of Today's patients as seen from the computer
Have copy of and discuss next two day's appointment schedules
Hygiene to identify who needs bite wings and FMX
be more productive have a definitive agenda every day with the items
Hope this helps.
US TRAIN YOUR
Center for Dental Career Development
Business Education for Dental Professionals
737 Pearl Street,
La Jolla, CA 92037
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