How to Effectively Communicate with Patients About Past-due Bills
There are few things that dental accountants despise more than hunting down unpaid invoices. While some are lucky enough to avoid having to deal with the collections process themselves, there’s a lot to be said for learning how to properly communicate about unpaid bills directly with patients. Sure, the process can lead to discomfort, but the better you’re able to articulate the needs of your practice, the more earnestly you’ll be doing your job.
Not sure how to effectively communicate with patients about past-due bills? Here are a handful of steps to set you in the right direction.
1. Start With Your Front-desk Staff
It’s important to identify why invoices are going unpaid before you can actually set out to do anything about it. As much as you shouldn’t set out to blame your front-desk staff for these types of issues, they do serve as the first point of contact with patients. Patient accounts should always be reviewed whenever the person is in the building to discuss unpaid invoices—even a friendly, “Would you like to pay your balance today?” can be enough to make a significant difference.
2. Take Steps Prior to Each Patient Visit
Scheduling is a process often riddled with headaches for various different reasons, but the associated benefits far outweigh the costs. When scheduling is handled properly, you’ll know well ahead of time whether or not a patient with an unpaid bill will be visiting. This allows you the foresight to discuss the bill briefly during check-in, which can have a rather large impact in terms of getting the person to pay-up.
3. Be Clear and Straightforward
One of the biggest difficulties faced by dental accountants and practice managers when it comes to getting people to pay their invoices is the general sense of discomfort that can sometimes come with discussing money. Remember, however, that business-related discussions about money are very different from personal discussions—there should never be degrees of emotion or discomfort involved. This can be easier said than done, however, and many people find it takes years of practice to effectively communicate financial matters with clients, customers and patients.
While getting all of your patients to pay their bills on time may be asking for a bit too much, you can help to reduce the presence of unpaid invoices with just a little bit of work. Start with your staff, and the rest will fall into your hands.