by Kent W. Stapley, DMD
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If you do not have competent, knowledgeable front-office administrators who are equipped with the right tools, your financial success may be around that proverbial “next corner.” Fortunately, proven companies such as DentiMax, Dentrix, SOFTDENT, and Eaglesoft continue to provide updated software with the tools your front desk needs to collect money.
To make sure your practice’s financials are where they should be, let me recommend three software tools:
- Accurate financial reporting
- Easy-to-understand ledger screen
- Simple scheduling
I have seen practices focus totally on increasing daily production while completely ignoring collections. Not collecting on your production is akin to spinning your wheels in sand — you will work hard but will not go very far. Make sure your software offers accurate financial reports so that your front desk can more easily collect from patients and their insurance companies.
I have a colleague who had been collecting less than 70% of what he was actually producing. He hired a new front desk employee who used his practice’s insurance aging reports to aggressively pursue the outstanding insurance payments.
She started sending monthly statements to patients, and ended up referring a few patients to collections. What was the result? For the next three months, the associate collected 15% more than what he produced! This equated to a total net increase of $60,000 that went to his bottom line.
My friend was fortunate; the software had accurate aging reports that his “high-powered” office manager was able to use to collect the outstanding debt. Make sure your staff is equipped with good aging and financial reports and that they review them frequently.
Has a patient ever asked you for an exact breakdown of his or her family’s balance, and when you went to the ledger screen looking for answers, you became confused? How can you expect patients to pay when you cannot tell what they owe? To be fair, a large family with a multiyear history will tax any software’s ledger system.
Fortunately, there are software systems, such as DentiMax and Eaglesoft, that offer line-item accounting. This simplifies the ledger screen, displaying the dollars collected next to their corresponding procedures. This lets you know which procedures were paid in full, which were partially paid, and which were not paid at all. Now you and your staff can provide quick, accurate answers to patients’ financial questions.
From overall office workflow to financials, your software’s appointment book affects just about everything in your practice. No one likes it when a high-production day is followed by a day that is exclusively booked with low-production procedures.
Your appointment book should let you designate blocks of time for things such as high-production procedures, new-patient appointments, and other items. This will not only help your staff create appointments in a more organized and controlled way, but will help smooth out your revenue. Keeping your high financial peaks from being followed by low valleys is a key ingredient to keeping on track to achieve your goals.
In a very real way, your practice’s financial success is determined by the front-office employees. Providing your front office with up-to-date software will allow them to better perform their jobs. With the right tools, you and your staff will achieve the financial success you have been seeking.
Kent W. Stapley, DMD, has practiced general dentistry in Mesa, Ariz., for the past 15 years. Dr. Stapley owns and practices from one dental office. But at one time, he owned four practices. His practices have used various software programs, including Softdent, Dentrix, Easy Dental, and DentiMax. Reach him via email at [email protected].