The top priority of a dental practice is to deliver quality dental care and services to patients. When bills go unpaid, however, dental office managers must step aside from their core functions and dedicate more time to the process of recovering overdue payments.

To formally get the process started on payment recovery, dental offices will initiate contact with their patients, which can be an uncomfortable experience for everyone involved. An effective overdue invoice letter can be the first step toward getting paid faster. A well-written letter also builds trust and understanding with the patients who have fallen a little behind.

Here are some strategies that accelerate repayment and improve cash flow.

Consider timing

Whether the dental office is reaching out for the first time or is doing a follow-up, timing is always key to getting a favorable response no matter what phase the collection is in.

For patients who have demonstrated a pattern of late bills, dental offices are advised to follow up the day after the invoice is due. For individuals with a proven track record of on-time payments or for new patients, a follow-up reminder should happen no earlier than a week after payment is due.

As a general rule, dental offices should follow up again after 30, 60 and 90 days after the due date as long as the payment remains unpaid.

Another timing tactic involves targeting when patients might have more bandwidth to notice important correspondence. Pinging them on the weekend about an overdue account is one possible strategy. Another is to send the notice out on Tuesday or around the lunch hour. These optimal times increase the notice’s visibility and the likelihood that the target audience will respond.

Customize verbiage

While having pre-written responses at the ready is a good practice, dental office managers should also customize their outreach. With each passing reminder, the message should also change to match the urgency of the request and the tardiness of payment.

For the first couple of weeks of nonpayment, the letter’s tone can be friendly, polite and approachable. It should aim to reaffirm your dental office’s commitment to the patient’s dental health and mention how much the dental office values its relationship. The main message, of course, will be a gentle reminder that there’s an outstanding debt on their account.

Following 30-60 days of nonpayment, the language should adjust to include a sense of urgency. The letter can get right to the point that the patient is overdue on payment and that payment is required. This message should be professional and firm.

After more than 90 days past due, the dental office might be resigned to the fact that payment might never arrive. Nevertheless, action is still needed. This is the notice that refers the case to a collections agency.

As a final notice, the patient should be made aware that if payment is not immediately received, then a collections agency will take over the process to recover the debt.

Show flexibility

Depending on how late payment is and a patient’s tolerance for mounting late fees, another possible strategy is to offer a repayment plan.

This can be as simple as dividing the payments into budget-friendly portions and proposing the repayment plan to the patient. The smaller payments could appeal to the patient. The broken-up payments might increase the chances of getting paid without further escalation, but it’s not the best outcome.

Implement automation

Specialized software includes built-in features that trigger billing reminders. The timing of automatic follow-ups can be set for whatever frequency the dental team feels is appropriate to meet their billing goals.

Personalized messaging can also be automated to fit the urgency of the alert. Fees can also be added automatically after payment deadlines lapse.

This type of automation setup is a huge time saver of staff resources and provides consistency in billing workflows.

Utilize remote billing

Adams Dental Consulting is proud to offer remote billing services for every step of the payment process. Remote dental billing services ensure prompt and accurate payment, freeing up resources so dental practices can focus on their core functions of dental care.

Adams Dental Consulting’s specialists are up to speed on the latest billing and claims processes and will streamline your dental office’s billing workflow, operating discretely within your established systems and minimizing disruptions to daily workflows.

Contact us to learn more about how remote dental billing services can streamline your customer payment operations to get you paid more quickly.

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