Learn how a dental fee schedule can save you time, money, and make your patients happy
One of the first questions that patients ask when planning treatment is “how much is this going to cost?” Do you have a dental fee schedule you can quickly reference to answer their question? This list of treatment costs will make approximating invoice amounts a simpler process for your office staff. But is this process ever really easy?
Does this sound familiar? A patient is leaving your office and wants to know how much the recommended filling replacement will cost during his next visit. First you have to pull up his insurance, sift through a binder to find the dental fee schedule, then drag out the calculator for a bit of quick math.
With so many different insurance plans, health savings accounts, flexible spending plans, and insurance companies, each patient may have a different out-of-pocket cost for the same procedure.
This scenario isn’t as hopeless as it sounds, though. While some dental offices are still flipping through an appointment book with a pencil and eraser, savvy offices are streamlining the entire scheduling and billing process. Cloud-based software is making it easier than ever to move your operation out of the books and into the future.
Something magical happens when you free up this kind of mental space, too (aside from reducing the risk of an avalanche of folders, patient records, and those trinkets from your boss’ vacation in the Bahamas). It becomes easier and more convenient for patients to schedule appointments and pay bills. It’s less hassle for you to charge the insurance companies. This all frees up time for you to get organized and increase production.
And, really, who doesn’t want their job to be easier? Especially when it comes to invoicing. But like it or not, if a dental practice is going to keep the doors open, the bills have to be paid.
How to schedule invoices
Most patients will have two types of invoices. One invoice will go to the insurance company, who will pay a percentage based on their own dental fee schedule, and another will go to the patient. There are exceptions, of course – some patients will not have any co-pay or may pay in full while they are in the office. Similarly, some patients don’t use insurance and will be billed in full.
Needless to say, this can be a lot to keep up with (although, we can help you with that). A regular schedule for checking and sending invoices can help keep your billing cycle on track, and reduce the amount of work in the front office. In fact, good dental practice management software can turn billing into a streamlined part of your patient interaction, making it even easier to schedule invoices.
As a dental practice management software company, we are naturally biased. But we do believe any legitimate software should make it easy for you to create and send invoices with just a few mouse clicks. This makes the entire billing process more efficient, and you can easily be notified when payments are made. Then, you aren’t stuck scheduling invoices – it’s already done!
How to send late invoices with tact
By any measure, sending overdue invoices is no fun. But remember, many of the late invoices you send out will be to people who simply forgot to pay. Life gets busy. A few long days at work, your kid is in the school play, your neighbor is resurfacing the driveway, and the next thing you know, two weeks have flown by. If you take the tact that an overdue invoice is based on forgetfulness or business rather than willful neglect, it puts an entirely new spin on things.
Plus, a late invoice can be an excellent chance to market your practice as a caring and professional establishment. Think about it from a personal perspective; you get two overdue invoices in the mail one day. One says, “Your account is 30 days overdue. Please pay the amount shown within five days or you will be charged a $10 late fee.”
The second invoice you open sounds like this, “Hello Ms. Smith. We hope everything is okay. We noticed your account is past due. We also know life gets busy, so we are making it easier to pay balances by offering an online payment option. Thank you in advance for remitting your payment, and we look forward to your next appointment on June 22 at 1:30 p.m.”
These both say the same thing, but the second dental practice sounds like they care a lot more about the well-being of their patients. Don’t you think?
How to get paid easily
From an economic perspective, the easier you make it for patients to pay you, the more likely they will pay you promptly. That also means you’ll spend less time and energy tracking down overdue invoices, creating and printing receipts, and collecting on the phone. In fact, one of the benefits of a good dental practice management software is online billing, payments, and scheduling, freeing you from the phone and giving you more time to complete other tasks.
Working in the front office of a busy dental practice will always require filling several roles at the same time. That doesn’t mean you can’t make each role as efficient and easy as possible.
Are you overworked and unsure how to get organized? The fastest way to set yourself up for success is making patient management pain free. See how Umbie can easily track referrals, efficiently manage families, and build relationships by fostering those personal connections with your patients.
Do you have any additional tips on using a dental fee schedule to make things easy for your front office? If so, let us know in the comments!