Fall Clean Up of Your Patient Accounts
By: Natalie Lucken, Account Manager
Fall is so invigorating for everyone, inspiring new ideas and giving energy our clean up projects. Cooler weather means we can relax and regroup as we organize and prepare for a new year ahead.This is a great time go over all the patients in your database, and clean up the old accounts! In my time working for multiple dental practices over the years, I have learned the importance of asking yourself some questions to help get the cleaning underway:
- Has it been over a year since the patient was seen? Maybe it’s time to push that “inactive” button (or tick the box) –provided they have paid their balance.
- Are there old balances that haven’t been paid in over 6 months? Maybe it’s time to send them off to a collection agency, or consider writing the balance off as a bad debt. We have all been conditioned to accept that “there will always be outstanding balances”, and we need to move away from this as soon as possible for the health of the dental practice. When the Office Manager presents the patient’s treatment plan, it cannot be stressed enough that it is only an ESTIMATE. He/She should be prepared for the patient who wants to know why the office cannot know exactly what insurance will be paying (Short answer? The insurance company always has the right to change their mind!)
- Did the patient move out of state and leave a balance on their account? Have a front desk person check to make sure that there are no more payments coming from the insurance carrier and that the claim was paid correctly, then consider sending this one to a Collection Agency too. Even if they did not leave behind an updated address, a collection agency can track them down like bloodhounds.
- Is an insurance slow to pay or causing delays in receiving timely payments? There is always a timely filing limit to consider when a claim is being adjudicated. If your software is outdated, updates may be necessary, as well as switching to a more reliable e-claims service. This is what eAssist excels at. We are always going to fight for your patients’ benefits, so you don’t have to! You can focus your team on serving your patient’s needs and creating a pleasant experience that they will want to share with family and friends.
More housekeeping for the front desk:
- Duplicate accounts: This is something I have seen in many practices, which confuse the staff, and frustrate efforts to apply payments to the correct account. Oftentimes, these are created because a patient has not been in for an appointment in such a long time that it seems easier just to quickly create a new profile to enter all the new information they provide when they arrive. Trust me, it takes merely seconds to search for a patient, in any software, which saves time and trouble down the road.
- The “stragglers”: These are the patients who called, made an appointment, and never showed up. These need to be inactivated also, since they are just laying around with a home. It’s so easy to reactivate these if they ever do decide to come in and be seen in the office.
- Learn to merge and separate people on a family account. For a sizeable practice, it is impossible to remember all the family connections, and is a huge help (to keeping and maintaining clean accounts) if all the family members are kept together on one profile.
Note: When your eAssist Team comes in via the established VPN connection, the first few weeks are sometimes overrun with “clean up” tasks. We don’t get to see your patients in person, and won’t know that “Little Suzy” is covered under her father’s dental plan if she is set up as the “Responsible Party” with no other family members are listed in her patient profile. Some practices do prefer to have children with Medicaid coverage set up as their own account, but please be sure to find a way to notate the name of a responsible parent or guardian who can be contacted if there are questions.
Cleaning up your accounts can do wonders for making everyone feel more organized and clearly focused on the goals set out for them. The Accounts Receivable list, Patient Recall Report, and Outstanding Claims lists will all get shorter, and the dental team can finally see their way clear. Your eAssist team is here to help your practice get on track to even more financial success.
eAssist Helpful News and Billing Tips; Edition #116