Offer your patients payment options in order to make it easier for them to pay so that you can collect the money you need to run your practice.
As a former treatment coordinator, I know there is a lot that goes into running a dental practice. We are tasked with critical functions like ensuring our patients return for preventive care, that they follow through on recommended treatment, and that the practice gets paid—by patients and insurance companies—in a timely manner.
Many of these functions require constant attention, such as calling patients who missed appointments, checking on available insurance benefits or following up on unpaid claims. It is a blessing when these systems can be automated so the team can focus on building relationships rather than checking items off a task list. The patients, team and practice will all be healthier when the team has the time to help patients get the care they need.
1 – Automate A/R Processes
When it comes to collecting payment for dentistry delivered, one of the most important tasks is managing accounts receivable and the patient collections for the day. If you are the financial coordinator, it is your responsibility to make sure the patient payments are posted correctly, that your team uses the right payment type and that the payment is allocated to the treating provider. Luckily, some of these functions can be automated.
With the new CareCredit integration into Dentrix, there is an auto-payment feature that may save you some time. In Dentrix*, when the client pays with their CareCredit credit card, the payment automatically writes back to the patient Ledger. This streamlines the posting process and reduces the likelihood of human error in payment allocation. That’s a win-win.
2 – Get Patients Off Your Unscheduled Treatment Report and On Your Schedule
Another responsibility I had as a treatment coordinator was to go through the unscheduled treatment report and reach out to patients to try and get them back in the practice. First, I would generate a Treatment Manager report in Dentrix and then go through the list to identify patients. This part was easy. The more time-consuming part of the routine was researching the patients’ available benefits, reading the clinical documentation, and finding any notes about the financial discussion with the patient explaining why they chose to decline or delay care.
Of course, it’s not surprising that in my experience most patients did not schedule care because of cost concerns. I’m sure you have patients voicing the same objection when they have an out-of-pocket investment needed for care. When I contacted patients off of the Treatment Manager report, many would voice their cost concerns to me so I would have the conversation about financing options and let them know promotional financing might be a good solution for them.
When a patient wanted to apply for the CareCredit credit card, I would encourage them to apply online at carecredit.com, but often I would have no idea if they were approved or not. I would wait until the patient called back or when they came in for their next recall visit to find out.
I wish I were a treatment coordinator in a dental practice now, especially with the new CareCredit integration available in Dentrix. The ability to look up cardholder information without ever leaving Dentrix is a game-changer when it comes to working your Treatment Manager Report.
Now, the information you need to have a great financial conversation with the patient is right at your fingertips. You don’t have to log in to a separate portal to look up information. And when you help patients apply, most of the information for the CareCredit application is auto-filled from your patient screen. This feature can simplify and streamline the process, saving you time and helping more patients move from the unscheduled treatment report to a scheduled appointment.
3 – Leveraging Technology and Communication Skills
My experience in managing a practice showed me how valuable technology can be and how powerful words can be when it comes to helping patients get healthy. It’s great to leverage the new features of the Dentrix software, but it’s just as important to leverage verbal skills to help patients along their oral health journey.
When it comes to cost as a barrier to care, I’ve found scripts to be highly successful. Of course, whenever you use scripts, you should add your own personality to them, but they can give you a great starting point.
Here are a few of my favorite scripts to use when patients express cost concerns.
“I understand the doctor’s treatment recommendation is an investment in your oral health. Many of our patients have found financing care is a great solution for their family. Would you be open to learning about financing and how you may be able to break the cost down into smaller monthly payments?”
“The good news is your benefits will contribute to the cost of care, which means your investment in your oral health is only $650. Do you have the CareCredit healthcare credit card? No? Would you like to hear about this financing solution many of our patients have found to be a good option for their family?”
“I can see that you have used your CareCredit credit card for your dentistry in the past. Would you like me to see if you have available credit that you can use to get the dentistry you need? I can do it while we’re on the phone together…it’ll just take a minute.”
The new integration and these verbal skills can be implemented when you work through your unscheduled treatment report, in morning huddles, and when looking for opportunities in your daily schedule. Many practices are open to scheduling same-day treatment and being able to look up your patients’ CareCredit account information all within Dentrix can help you prepare for the day and help patients who hesitate to accept care when they have an out-of-pocket investment.
There are just so many opportunities to help your patients get the treatment they need and create an efficient system for your team. Here’s a summary of all the ways you can use the CareCredit integration to simplify, streamline and save time.
- The Treatment Manager Report is my favorite report in Dentrix for managing patients with unscheduled treatment. Before you call the patient, you can look to see if the patient has available credit with their CareCredit account. This helps you be more prepared for your follow-up phone call.
- If you call patients from the Treatment Manager Report and they want to wait due to finances, you can use the CareCredit Payment Calculator tool and let them know what their monthly payment might be with the CareCredit credit card. If they’re interested, I would encourage them to apply online at carecredit.com.
- Before your morning huddle, you can look up cardholder information to see if any same-day treatment might be an option for your schedule.
And, as a last note, anyone on the team processing a CareCredit payment will find this system so much easier because it literally does all the work for you. The system will choose the correct payment type and automatically post the CareCredit payment to the patient ledger. So cool! I really encourage you to see for yourself how great this new integration is.
*CareCredit integrates with Dentrix G7.1 and above.
For more information about CareCredit integration with Dentrix, call 866.794.0526 or visit us online.
By Dayna Johnson, Founder and CEO of Novonee and Certified Dentrix Trainer
Dayna Johnson partners with CareCredit to provide business advice to the dental industry.