These days, patients are rightfully demanding more payment options, to help them afford quality dental care. Practices are responding, too, with solutions that save money for both providers and patients. These creative options firm-up the revenue cycle and can also significantly enhance collaborative dentist/patient rapport.
Treatment Plan Options
For better communication and transparency, it’s advisable to give the patient a financial agreement to read, date, and sign prior to treatment. But a value-adding way to present it is to pair that agreement with an agreed-upon comprehensive dental treatment plan. When appropriate, the plan can be tiered, to include alternative treatments with lower-cost pricing. That encourages in-depth consultations with the dentist to decide which choice is best. It also empowers patients with more control over their dental health and financial future.
Discounted Payment Models
There are also incentive-based pricing and billing models that practices can use to accelerate collections. The way it works is that the patient is offered an attractive discount, typically around five percent of the total cost, in exchange for prepayment. While many patients lack the cash on hand to pay in full, they can get around that hurdle by paying with a credit card. Then they can conveniently schedule their repayment to the credit card company over time.
Installment and Membership Plans
But dental practices can actually give patients more direct options. They can provide their own installment repayment plan, managed automatically by their payment platform software. Or they can offer subscription-based dentistry, with affordable membership and monthly or annual payments, managed through an automated recurring payment system. Patients who sign-up receive a menu of basic, essential services and treatments, for a fixed and manageable price. Meanwhile providers receive the valuable benefit of predictable revenues on a preset schedule.
Ease and Flexibility
Practices have an opportunity to make the payment process itself more consumer-friendly, too. All dental practices should accept credit cards and mobile payments, and give patients secure 24-7 access to a HIPAA-compliant online account portal. On these secure payment platforms they can view e-invoices and billing statements, day or night. They can also automatically schedule appointments and review their dental records. That relieves the front office burden of excessive phone calls and emails, freeing staff to focus more intently on quality care.
Confirmed Insurance Eligibility
All of these strategies and options rely on the fundamental premise that the patient understands their actual financial responsibility. One of the most effective ways to provide such fair and vital billing transparency is to proactively confirm insurance eligibility before the treatment is scheduled. Then the dental practice can generate a reliable estimate of the patient’s financial responsibilities, based on factors like the copay and deductible.
Automated Eligibility Verification
But providers know that verification can be a hassle, and administrators realize how much it can add to a practice’s overhead. That’s because manual verification is typically labor intensive, time consuming, and prone to human error. Fortunately, advanced payment processing software can automate the process and make it simple, fast, and accurate. The patient knows exactly what their obligations are, ahead of time.
The Bottom Line
With the right technology, dental practices can now offer suitable and innovative payment options that meet the individual needs and preferences of patients. These kinds of personalized gestures generate greater patient loyalty and referrals, while strengthening dental practice revenues and collections. That gives everyone something to smile about.