TOP 10 STUPID THINGS DENTISTS DO WITH FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS
- No protocols for a written, signed financial arrangement handout for your patients. Yes, everyone needs a concise written financial policy and arrangement handout for every patient. It should be signed or initialed by the patient. NOTE: Don’t just photo copy it. Have it professionally printed. It represents what you do and its appearance is also marketing.
- Not doing financial arrangements with every patient before treatment is rendered. Only do written financial arrangements on the patients that you would like to get paid from.
- Always doing financial arrangements for the entire mouth, rather than the area they want to fix. This is one of the most common mistakes we see. Taking the computer print out of the entire treatment plan, rather than finding out what the patient wants and then starting there by doing the financial arrangements on that portion of the treatment plan. People will always pay for what they want. If you really impress them doing this, then they will do the rest. We don’t want to overwhelm them. Happily give them what they want and tell them what they need.
- Not addressing the concerns that the patient may have: Time, money, fear, and trust. Of the four, trust is the most important. If you are not growing, you are not creating that bond of trust with patients. Time means consumer hours and peak demand times (early, late, and Saturdays), money is helping them fit the treatment into their budget, and many are concerned about pain or a past experience. All of these, not just a portion, need to be addressed to assure the patient feels the care and compassion each of us strives for.
- Not collecting the patient’s portion of their future treatment today. Offering patients a 5% prepayment discount while never offering to allow them to pay as they go will insure you get paid. This also reinforces the patient’s intentions to show up while diminishing cancellations, no shows, and buyer’s remorse.
- Not having systems and protocols to follow up if someone fails to honor their signed written financial arrangement agreement with the office. If a patient misses their payment, or fails to follow through with their side of the financial arrangement, there must be defined, consistent protocols to immediately address this. People that owe you money cancel and no-show, don’t refer, and are the most likely people to sue you when you go after the money they agreed to pay.
- Not purposely misestimating insurance coverage by at least 5-7% in your favor. If you try to do it exactly, you will come off being the incompetent office when you miss your estimate and they have to pay more. Make an intentional mistake of about 5-7% in your favor (telling them the insurance will pay less) so that when it comes back, there will often times be a credit balance. This is great news for the patient and they will tell everyone they know.
- Having staff that just checks the boxes, just goes through the motions, of protocols for financial arrangements. This is the last best check point for salvaging a treatment plan. It takes the right person to be able to read the patient and address their concerns while still being perceived as caring and compassionate. There has to be a higher level of engagement for that position in order to read the patients personality profile and treat them the way they want to be treated. That sensitivity has to be innate for that position. We have to learn how to get the right person on the bus in the right seat.
- Not checking to make sure the patient is current on their balance and still makes an appointment for treatment. Once again, people who owe you money don’t show up, don’t refer, and will often times sue when you actually go after the money they owe you. It’s all negative. So figure out a way that patients never owe you.
- Too many cooks: This needs to be handled by the one person most likely to be able to perform all of the duties necessary to have a patient show up, pay for their treatment and refer everyone they know. Someone has to be responsible and accountable for the results we get with financial arrangements.
In summary, don’t be “stupid” when it comes to financial arrangements. “Stupid is as stupid does”. These 10 stupid things are NOT what it takes to Summit.
Michael Abernathy, DDS