Increase your dental patient revenue by understanding what holds it back and what will transform it
As a dental practice or group owner, you know that dental patient revenue is crucial for the survival of your business.
The question is: What obstacles stop you from collecting more money from your patients, and how can you increase your revenue?
We’ve seen the impact streamlined patient revenue has on dental businesses’ bottom line.
DCS provides end-to-end revenue cycle management, and patient collection is a key step to manage effectively.
In this article, we will explore what holds dental teams back from collecting more patient revenue, and strategies to overcome these challenges.
What are some challenges that hold dental teams back from collecting patient revenue?
There are the four main challenges that hold dental teams back from collecting patient revenue.
1. Last-minute insurance verification
Does your team perform insurance verification the day your patient comes in for their treatment? Rushed insurance verification often results in errors on insurance claims for your patients.
This means insurance might not pay what you think on the claim, and you have to send an additional bill to your patient.
Related: Top mistakes in the insurance verification process and how busy dental teams avoid them
Your patient will be unhappy with a surprise additional bill, and might be resistant to pay it, arguing that it's your problem.
If this happens frequently enough, it will lead to a dip in patient revenue.
Many dental teams struggle with insurance verification, for several reasons. Not only because it has to be done ahead of time, but also because it’s time-consuming and demands an in-depth understanding of complex details, and rules for using multiple plans.
“The carrier landscape is incredibly fragmented, with many companies offering a mind-boggling number of plans. Despite attempts at standardization, the information is highly variable and often lacks important details.”
2. Shortcomings in the insurance billing process
Patients expect insurance to cover a certain portion of their procedures. When their plan doesn't pay enough (or at all), they frequently believe the office used their benefits improperly.
Unfortunately, they may be right more often than not. Few dental teams have people with skills or time to stay ahead of ever-changing insurance delay tactics.
Billing and coding is time-consuming and confusing for both the practice and the patient. And patients will refuse to pay balances they believe insurance should cover. The dental business ends up writing off earned revenue instead of collecting it.
And if your patient does not understand why their insurance is only covering a certain amount of their treatment, and you also don’t totally understand why, you won’t be able to explain it to the patient.
This could lead to resistance when it comes time to collect from patients, resulting in unnecessary write-offs and lower patient revenue.
3. Incomplete treatment plan presentation
If your dental team has a lot on its plate, they may not have time to prioritize communicating with patients. How you communicate with your patients even after they have accepted their treatment will determine how smooth patient collections go.
Related: Increasing dental case acceptance with RCM services: 3 ways
The most important things to clearly communicate with patients are:
- Treatment presentation (and its necessity)
- Treatment costs and your financial policy
- Payment arrangements
It’s especially crucial to clearly communicate financial responsibilities to your patient in order to collect more. And we will cover some tips for that later in this article.
4. Ineffective patient payment systems
Your patient experience in the billing process has a huge impact on your dental patient revenue.
Many dental teams still depend on paper bills and statements sent in the mail to patients. It’s a little too easy to ignore the things you get in the mail— your patient might not even see their bill. Plus, you’re spending more on printing statements and postage. This is an easy overhead cost to cut out if you go paperless.
Any billing process needs adequate follow-up systems for patients who don’t pay at first request. Calling patients to remind them of their balance is ineffective because attempts to reach them are often unsuccessful. And your team might not even have time to call patients repeatedly about their payment.
To overcome these challenges, RCM offers solutions we’ll get to shorty.
Related: 3 reasons to automate your patient billing services ASAP
How will your team increase patient revenue and overcome these challenges?
There are steps you to take to collect more patient revenue.
1. Optimize your insurance verification process
Collecting successfully from patients starts with insurance verification upon their initial call and registration.
Be sure to collect all the necessary information from them, even if they are a recurring patient. Confirm that their insurance information is the same, and if it has changed, take your time getting new information. Be sure to double-check each number.
An easy way to optimize your insurance verification process is to partner with insurance verification service providers. Insurance verification is labor-intensive, and time sensitive. If it’s a step your team struggles with, let experts support your team by taking on this task.
2. Optimize the claims process
Your claims process accounts for a significant portion of your revenue – nearly half! By optimizing your revenue cycle management (RCM) process, you can improve revenue from claims and help more patients afford care.
The fewer errors on claims, the more accurate your cost estimates. And your patients will experience fewer surprise bills, because your process minimizes unexpected denials.
Not only will you have more time to clearly explain to patients the limitations of their coverage, You increase patient acceptance balances due with accurate estimates and statements.
3. Make time for an effective treatment plan presentation
The treatment plan presentation is your opportunity to communicate everything necessary to your patient. This includes the necessity of their treatment. Use visual aids (x-rays, intraoral photos) to help.
You also will use this time to communicate the patient’s estimated financial responsibility. This is KEY to your patient revenue.
Make sure to emphasize that no matter what the patient’s insurance pays, they are ultimately responsible for the entire cost of their treatment.
This way, when they get their bill, there are no surprises, and they will pay you promptly.
4. Automate patient billing systems
Automation is the way of the future, and it’s an efficient solution for dental patient billing that cuts down on paper and postage. Automated patient billing technology will notify patients of balance due on their preferred device.
It also offers a frictionless online payment process. Everyone’s all about convenience, and the easier it is for patients to pay, the more they will. Automated patient billing provides more payment options, including bank transfers, wallet apps and credit cards.
Related: 3 ways patient billing services will take your dental business to the next level
Automated systems should include consistent follow-up reminders according to your preferred schedule. Payment reminders boost collection rates without the hassle of follow-up calls. Your patient revenue will increase, while you focus on serving patients in the office.
Consider the benefits of revenue cycle management (RCM) services
Optimizing patient revenue goes far beyond providing good care and sending statements. Improving patient revenue depends on a set of expert skills and processes working together. Those skills include:
- Efficient insurance verification that delivers fast, accurate coverage details in your PMS ahead of time.
- Expert claims management that maximizes insurance payments and helps teams explain the balance due so that patients can trust and accept them.
- Treatment planning informed by accurate, up-to-date insurance information
- Well-configured patient billing technology that improves revenue, lowers costs, and creates smoother workflows.
RCM experts will increase the first-time payment on claims, and will overturn denials without raising your overhead costs.
You’ll have experts supporting you, that are seasoned in the art of claim submission, appeals, and follow-up.
Plus, your patient consultations will be backed up by notes and support your team receives from your remote RCM expert.
Using RCM services will provide these skills needed to ensure these processes are working for you, not against you. RCM experts will bring years of dental insurance and billing experience to the table, improving the accuracy and speed in which you get paid — including patient revenue.
Use RCM services to increase your patient revenue
Dental patient revenue is critical to the success of any dental practice, but there are many factors that hold back a practice's patient revenue potential.
Now that you understand these challenges that keep your practice’s revenue down, you have the tools to implement the tips we’ve shared to collect more and worry less.
One of these tips was to partner with an RCM service provider to give your team more time to focus on collecting easily from patients.
DCS is a full-service RCM partner that supports your dental team to get the revenue you deserve. To learn more about how our services will increase your patient (and insurance!) revenue, schedule a call with us.
Dental billing resources