Did you know the following facts about collections?

  • The average accounts receivable over 90 days: 18 percent
  • The average for dental practices with patient financing: 14 percent
  • The average for dental practices without patient financing: 28 percent

How do you compare?

Take a look at your aging report in your dental software. Find the report that shows you the percentage breakdown for each category: current, over 30 days, over 60 days, over 90 days. What are your percentages for each category? How does your office compare with the national averages shared above?

It takes constant work to keep your aging under control. The measure of your success is your aging report. The key is setting up a system for what communication you are going to tackle with patients who have a balance and at what interval. And, once you have exhausted your efforts, make a decision about what to do with this account so it doesn't just sit in your aging.

It's key that you communicate with the patient in order to get paid: phone calls, emails, letters, even contacting family members or dental specialists who may have updated contact info. Creating a series of letters sent quickly that become more intense may also help move this patient along the process as well.

Since the chance that a patient will pay a past-due balance drops precipitously after every month from their last visit, make sure that your collections process moves quickly. You certainly don't need to give the patient a month to pay his/her statement and then another month to pay after a letter. If a week goes by and you are not receiving a payment or any contact about the bill, then it's time to move to the next step.

Once you have completed your collection efforts, then make a decision about each patient. Do you want to send them to a collections agency? Or do you just want to let them know that you are putting their account on hold but they will need to take care of this balance before any more services will be provided?

No matter what the decision, change the billing type and get these patients out of your aging. You are done dealing with them for now.

Setting up a system for collections will provide specific guidelines for your team to follow when they are working on past-due accounts. It will increase your collections and reduce bad feelings because of poor communications. And, you will beat the average practice performance, and that's something to be proud of.