Four Tips for Dealing with Collections Accounts

Expert tips about how to manage overdue accounts that need to be sent to collections and how to manage conversations with patients about that account.

Updated 11/15/21

I have worked in two different dental practices in my career and, since I have been a Dentrix trainer, I have observed the different methods of how dental practices deal with the accounts they send to collection. It seems like there are many different philosophies and methods when dealing with collection accounts. Today, I want to spell out four things that I recommend you do when sending an account to collection.

Tip 1: Assign a New Billing Type

Take the account out of the “general population.” What I mean by that is make sure this account does not come up on your Accounts Receivable Report, billing statement run, or finance charge generation. You definitely do not want to be sending any more billing statements or applying any more finance charges to this account.

To do this in Dentrix, I would suggest changing the account billing type to “Sent to Collection.” The billing type in Dentrix is attached to the entire account. You can change it from the Family File by double-clicking on the box that contains the billing type (see image below) or on the Ledger where you can set up Payment Agreements. Then when you run a report or generate billing statements you can exclude this billing type.

Tip 2: Inactivate the Patient(s)

In addition to taking the account out of your general population, I would also inactivate the patients attached to the account so they do not come up in your regular searches. When you inactivate a patient in Dentrix, change the patient status to Inactive, clear all continuing care types, and reject any unscheduled treatment plans. This will ensure that the patient will not show up in the Continuing Care lists or the Treatment Manager Report.

Read “Clean Up Your Active Patient Base” for more ideas about inactivating patients.

Tip 3: Dismiss the Patient

My recommendation is to dismiss the patient from the practice. I realize this might be a bit harsh, but if this not done, you are still considered his or her dentist. If this patient calls for an appointment, you legally cannot deny him or her. Of course you can collect cash at the time of service, but this patient/family has already cost you about 40% in fees to the collection agency. Keep in mind that the dismissal must be done in writing.

Tip 4: Manage the Account Balance

The last step is where I see the most difference in philosophy—whether to adjust off the balance or leave it on the account. If you adjust off the balance at the time you send the account to collection, you would need to make a positive adjustment to add the balance back in and then make the collection agency payment to offset the adjustment. If you do not adjust off the balance at the time you send the account to collection, make the payment on the account and an adjustment for the fee the collection agency charged when you receive the payment.

In my office, I keep the balance on the account until I receive the payment from the collection agency. I would check with your accountant to see how it should be done in your practice.

Read “Dentrix Features to Help You Manage Patient and Provider Balances” to learn more about handling account balances.

Hope this helps and gives you a more set protocol on how to handle collection accounts. Hopefully you don’t have to deal with this situation very often, but when it does come up, it is good to know what steps need to be taken.


Learn More

For more ideas about collecting patient balances, read “Working with Patients Who Have an Account Balance.”

Read “Clean Up Your Active Patient Base” for more ideas about inactivating patients.

Read “Dentrix Features to Help You Manage Patient and Provider Balances” to learn more about handling account balances.


By Dayna Johnson, Certified Dentrix Trainer

Dayna loves her work. She has over 25 years of experience in the dental industry, and she’s passionate about building efficient, consistent, and secure practice management systems. Dayna knows that your entire day revolves around your practice management software—the better you learn to use it, the more productive and stress-free your office will be. In 2016, Dayna founded Novonee ™, The Premier Dentrix Community, to help cultivate Dentrix super-users all over the country. Learn more from Dayna at www.novonee.com and contact Dayna at dayna@novonee.com.