Successful Billing & Payment Collection Practices for Dental Offices

Many dental practitioners think about ways to optimize patient care, create a more sterile yet friendly atmosphere, foster a positive work environment, etc.  And, while all of those things are important, if money is not being effectively collected for services patients received then the dental practice wont’ be able to stay in business for very long.  Billing and collecting payments has a tendency to make everyone uncomfortable but it is important and an understood part of the agreement when a patient receives dental care and services.

Billing should always, if possible, be submitted to a patient’s dental and/or medical insurance.  Medical billing for dental procedures and services may sound strange and confusing but by better covering various dental procedures and services patients are more likely to agree to treatment which can enhance your practice’s profitability.  DentistryIQ elaborates on how dental practices can bill both dental insurance and medical insurance for certain procedures, “Successful billing of medical insurance for splints, bone grafts, oral implants, and accidental injury to teeth calls for careful and well-documented reports and medical insurance coding… Medical billing requires diagnosis-based documentation, and there are numerous codes available for bone grafting, implant surgical reconstruction, TMD, sleep apnea appliances, and other oral problems and diseases. Emulating the “medical model” in your record keeping will be an important first step in confident coding.”

If at all possible, it is ideal to collect payment from dental patients at the time of service.  One of the most important facets of collecting payment at the time of service is a well-trained staff that is confident and educated about fees.  If your staff seems at all confused or hesitates, a patient is more likely to ask to be billed at a later date.  Additionally, practice with your staff to both quiz them and ensure they know the accurate fees but also to help them feel more confident and less embarrassed discussing money.  You should always make a patient aware of the financial fees associated with a procedure or treatment before you perform any services.  Also, if there is a fee that must be collected at the time of service, make sure they are aware of it before the service.  Nobody wants to be surprised with a big bill they weren’t prepared to pay for that day.  You may also consider offering an incentive for same-day payment.  For example, you can offer patients a 5% discount on services if they pay the same day they receive treatment.  The sooner and more effectively you are able to bill and receive payment, the higher your dental practice’s profits will be.

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