Efficiently Posting Patient Payments for Cleaner Accounting and Accurate Reporting

Don’t ignore these three key option when posting patient payments in Dentrix.

All dental offices know how to post a patient payment in the Dentrix Ledger, but is your office posting payments in the most efficient way? Posting patient payments efficiently can save your office time, result in cleaner accounting and more accurate reporting.

When posting a patient payment, there are three options in the Enter Payment dialog box you should be aware of that will dramatically affect reports and accounting:

Posting Payments to a Provider

While the default setting is to split a payment by provider, you have the option to post a payment to a specific provider. What does that mean and why is it important? Ideally, the provider of a procedure should have the payment posted to them for that procedure. For example, if Dr. A completed a filling, it’s important that the payment is posted to Dr. A. If Dr. A is paid based on collections, he would not receive credit for the procedure unless the payment is posted to him.

Similarly, if a patient has an exam with the doctor, and a prophy with the hygienist, the payment should be split between the providers. You will find that your reports will make more sense when payments are posted this way. Do you have inactive providers who still show up on reports, like the Provider AR Totals report, appearing as if they are owed a large balance or have a credit? That’s because payments weren’t being split by provider. If you have this problem in your office, don’t worry! In Dentrix G7.3 there is a feature that can help to correct this issue. The Provider Credit Balances Manager in the Ledger makes allocating provider credits much easier, by providing you with a list of accounts which have provider credits and allowing you to allocate credit balances with just a few mouse clicks.

Posting Payments by Patient

By default, the selected patient in the Ledger appears as the patient to whom the payment will be applied. You have the option to split the payment by family members, which will allocate the payment between family members who have an account balance. If Split By Family Members is selected, it’s important to know that the payment is posted to the oldest family balance.

Similar to the way posting payments to providers works, it’s important to post payments for procedures to the patient who actually had them completed. Have you ever had to audit a family account and experienced that finding which patient actually owes for which procedure is like finding a needle in a haystack? This typically happens when payments are posted to the guarantor for all patients in the family. You can correct this problem by allocating credit balances. In Dentrix G7.3, allocating balances doesn’t affect the aging of the account, so you don’t have to worry about aging being altered by making these allocations.

Choosing a Split Method

When you choose a method for splitting a payment, it determines the way in which payments are applied to the account. There are four options to choose from:

  • Percentage Payments – This option divides the payment among the providers based on the providers percentage of the amount owed.
  • FIFO – FIFO stands for “first in, first out” and will apply the payment to the oldest completed procedures first.
  • Equal Payments – This split method splits the payment equally among the providers who are owed a balance.
  • Guarantor Estimate – This is my preferred method of splitting payments because it takes into account what Dentrix is estimating insurance to pay for a procedure. So, it’s looking at the patient portion for the procedure and then allocating the payment among the providers based on that insurance estimate.

Once you’ve decided which payment options are best for your office, you can set them as default by selecting Settings right from the Enter Payment dialog box.

Posting patient payments efficiently results in cleaner accounting and more accurate reports. It will be easier to answer questions patients may have regarding their account by making it more clear which patients in the family still owe a balance. If your office doesn’t currently post payments to the provider of the service and to the patient who received treatment, this may be something to consider.

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By Charlotte Skaggs
Certified Dentrix Trainer and The Dentrix Office Manager columnist

Charlotte Skaggs is the founder of Vector Dental Consulting LLC, a practice management firm focused on taking offices to the next level. Charlotte co-owned and managed a successful dental practice with her husband for 17 years. She has a unique approach to consulting based on the perspective of a practice owner. Charlotte has been using Dentrix for over 20 years and is a certified Dentrix trainer. Contact Charlotte at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.