Payment Methods and Plans
Dental clinics must always be transparent about the patients’ responsibility for the costs of their treatments and services (Hayden 2016). Patients must pay for them, but sometimes they cannot pay their bills right away or on time for reasons, such as not having enough money, having few ways to pay them, and more. According to Corban Tenney, “Senior Healthcare Sales Manager at payment technology provider BillingTree,” “The inability to make a payment because a provider isn’t available to take it is one of the biggest reasons invoices go unpaid. Providing multiple options offers patients the ability to pay at a time and in a way that suits them” (2017). A variety of payment plans could help not only patients pay their bills, but also the clinics collect their payments sooner.
Dentists could employ a variety of methods that allow patients to pay their bills after receiving their treatments if they cannot pay them right away. Ideally, patients should pay before or at their appointments for treatment (Hayden 2016). However, if they cannot, clinics should consider other ways patients could pay them after their appointment. Patients could pay their bill in-person at the clinic, pay it over the phone with a person or through the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems, pay it on the cellphone, pay online, or “[writing] and [mailing] a check to the practice” (Alexander 2016; Taxin 2016; Tenney 2017; Yohe 2017). Particularly, the IVR could benefit clinics because not only “IVR will ultimately allow more time for dental staff to deal with more important practice activities,” it also helps clinics receive more payments and provide better customer experience (Yohe 2017).
Clinics could also set up payment plans for patients, helping them to pay their bills. For instance, Betty Hayden, “founder of Hayden Consulting,” recommends “[offering] third party financing, [breaking] up the treatment plan if possible, or [allowing] patients to make payments as a credit until they have enough money to get started with treatment” (2016). Patients could pay their bills overtime on a payment plan online (Yohe 2017). In this method, clinics would regularly receive payments from “the client’s account, usually via a card payment or e-check (ACH),” “[for] each month or billing cycle” (Yohe 2017). These scheduled online payments would “improve cash flow” and “[make] long-term financial planning much easier” (Yohe 2017). Additionally, clinics would not have to worry about any missed payments, “[allowing] more time for other job-related tasks” (Yohe 2017). Though, for payment plans in general, in order to make sure patients pay the bills fully in a timely manner, clinics should set the length of the patients’ payment plan, such as three months or less (Taxin 2016). They could encourage patients to finish paying them sooner by providing discounts for those who choose to complete their payment plans sooner (Tenney 2017).
Each payment method and plan provide ways for bills to be paid in a timely manner. Patients do not have to worry about their bills, while the clinics collect their revenue.