By James V. Anderson, DMD, CEO/Founder eAssist Dental Solutions
Many dentists don’t charge enough for their services because they don’t have a real sense of what they should charge. They don’t want to scare their patients or appear greedy. Their fees were set years ago, sometimes at the practice inception, and they may raise some once a year, every four years and many not at all. It is an inconsistent system based on what the insurance is paying at UCR or what the competitors are charging for the same service. Because of these variables, the dentist is often confused as to whether the charge is fair or not.
Other businesses set their charges based on costs to operate the business (overhead) and what the market will bear.
Dental office managers will tell you to “keep the doctor away from the desk” because they are apt to give discounts or free services when they don’t need to. This is far too common in the dental profession, but it doesn’t have to be this way.
Building good solid relationships with patients includes great service and dental care – and in turn, payment for the services rendered. When the dentist gets involved with collections, it becomes a hit and miss result depending on their personality and comfort level with the patients. “Throwing money at the source of your stress doesn’t make the stress go away.” You still have to pay your bills.
First step is to do a sound fee analysis based on current data for your geographic area at: https://www.dentaleconomics.com/articles/print/volume-108/issue-4/macroeconomics/the-dental-economics-annual-fee-survey.html and then adjust them accordingly to be at the 80th percentile.
Second step is to have firm but friendly financial arrangements and options available for your patients to choose from. These options would include outside dental lenders: https://www.carecredit.com/dentistry/ and short term 90-day same as cash plans in-house to patients with good standing credit.
Third, have a support team: https://dentalbilling.com that doesn’t include the dentist to collect and follow-up on unpaid insurance claims and unpaid patient portion of the accounts receivables. Outsourcing this service will free up your team to spend more time with patients on positive outcomes of treatment acceptance and appointment/scheduling control. Professional billing experts can set up your computers with PPO fee schedules so patient estimates are far more accurate. Your front office person(s) does not have the time to do this chore.
Having a dedicated collection team who works insurance and patient portion the way you want is far more successful than the “hit and miss” system, with all its inconsistencies, that causes patients to leave your practice.
James V. Anderson DMD is a practicing dentist in Syracuse, Utah and is the CEO/Founder of eAssist Dental Solutions, the largest national dental insurance billing company (www.dentalbilling.com) in the U.S.
Dr. Anderson understands the challenges facing today’s dental teams and since 2009 has been providing proven solutions to dental/medical insurance billing, patient portion billing, accounting for dentists and related management services.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org