How to Successfully Ask for and Collect Payment for Dental Treatment

Hello Friends,

Fear of cost moves many people to put off visiting the dentist or to cancel their appointments for scheduled treatment. Fear of presenting fees causes many team members to dread or avoid presenting treatment plans/financial expectations and asking for payment. These fears do not help the patient or the office.

Would you like to see more patients not only accept treatment but pay for it before or at time of service?  Would you like to see an increase in production and office collections?  Would you like to decrease the amount of time and money being spent on making collection calls and sending patient statements/letters?

how to ask for and collect dental payments from Betty Hayden Consulting

Today, I’ll share with you a few tips to help make that happen.

  1. See the true value of dentistry – With each day and each and every patient you and your team have the privilege and opportunity to potentially change someone’s life or at the very least, help them smile healthier. A healthy smile is part of a healthy body, healthy smiles and bodies create healthy communities.  The entire team must believe this. The entire team must also wholly believe that you’re providing the best quality care. Having full confidence in the doctors and hygienists ability to provide quality care and to create beautiful and healthy smiles is a must.
  2. Be confident with fees – The entire team should role play presenting small and large treatment plans and financial arrangements until every one is comfortable saying the dollar amounts out loud and with pride.
  3. Financial policy – Have a written financial policy that is kindly reviewed with the patient at their first appt. Have them sign and take a copy with them. For your existing patients, review with them any changes to your financial policies, have them sign and give them a copy to take home.
  4. Avoid assumptions and judgement – Don’t make decisions for the patient as to whether or not they can afford the treatment based on your assumptions or reality. Remember this, Sympathy vs Empathy: Sympathy is feeling for the patient… deciding for them that they can’t afford the dental care, Empathy is feeling with the patient… yes, this is more than they were wanting to pay, however, you’re going to give them hope… you’re going to offer third party financing, break up the treatment plan if possible or allow them to make payments as a credit until they have enough money to get started with treatment. Always offer the best treatment and flexible payment options and allow the patient to decide what they want to accept or not.
  5. No surprises! – Present treatment plan and financial portion before treatment is started. Make sure your numbers are as accurate as possible, especially when estimating the insurance portion. If you accept their insurance, have up to date eligibility, breakdown of benefits and the insurance fee schedule on file for the patient.
  6. Payment due before or on day of service – No billing the patient for co-pays or payment for services. (Hint: Collecting prior to appt. will reduce cancellations and no-shows. Another Hint: Collect co-pay before the patient goes back for treatment, especially if they’re having a lengthy or difficult appt. No one wants to stand at the front desk fumbling for money or to write a check with gauze hanging out of their mouth after an extraction, or numb and exhausted after a long appt. Make it more comfortable for them by collecting their pmt and making any necessary follow up appts before they go back. )
  7. Make it easy for them to pay – In addition to accepting cash, check and charge cards, offer third party financing. Avoid in-office payment plans!
  8. Incentives – Offer incentives for patients to pay when they make the reservation.
  9. Dealing with forgetful patients – When a patient says they forgot to bring money…they can either call the payment in over the phone when they get home or give them an envelope with payment due date for them to mail in a check. Call the patient if payment isn’t received by due date.
  10. When Insurance is involved –  Always give the full treatment fee, the estimated insurance amount and the patient’s estimated co-pay that is due today. Let the patient know you’ll send in the claim and inform them if anything changes with the estimated insurance portion. Watch your insurance aging report closely. Promptly follow up on any unpaid claims, insurance rejections and requests for add’l information.

There you have it, 10 tips to successfully collect payment before or at time of service.

Once you make a plan to consistently collect payments before or at time of service, and hold your team accountable to follow through with that plan, you’ll wish you started it sooner.

Here are a few more tips to help make this a true success for you.

  • Daily, Weekly and Monthly, monitor your patient and insurance accounts receivables, collection and credit reports.  (Carefully review write-off’s, discounts, credits, charges and payments.)
  • Each day, look at the day prior, what were your total production charges & collections? Pay close attention to the total patient responsibility vs patient payments, these numbers should be close to the same. If not, why not?
  • ALWAYS send out clean insurance claims! If your administrative team needs any training in this ever changing insurance world with how to estimate co-pays, send out claims (daily),  post insurance payments and adjustments…get them the proper training asap!
  • Don’t assume… know by who, when, what and how your money is being handled. It’s important for the entire team to understand why this information is necessary.
  • Set goals, share with your team what your production and collection goals are and how it benefits them to all work together as a team to reach or exceed these goals. Consider offering a small bonus or incentive when these goals are reached.

Print out these tips and suggestions and review them at your next team meeting.

Please know, I’m happy to help you and your team develop a plan to reach your production and collection goals. I offer complimentary consultations via email at

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Yours for Greater Success,


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January Dental Marketing Ideas (2014)

dental marketing and practice management ideas

Hello Friends,

 For last year’s words belong to last year’s language And next year’s words await another voice.” ― T.S. EliotFour Quartets

 Now is the time to create a marketing and practice management plan of action for 2014.

Think seriously about any troubles, concerns and problems that occurred during the year that you do not want to repeat in the new year. What problems would you like to see solved? Any office space issues? Team member/staffing concerns? Need for updated equipment? More money?More New Patients?, Etc.

Also, think about all of the things that worked well and how you can repeat them or even improve upon them in the new year.

Do not delay, put down on paper all of your thoughts and plans to make 2014 a better year for you and your practice. Do include your team in this plan, ask them what their ideas are to make 2014 a more productive and happier year for all.

If your plans include a campaign to bring in inactive patients this letter that I shared last year is a great one to encourage your inactive patients to come back. You can read it here.

On to the…

Dental Marketing Ideas for January

National Hot Tea Month – I know I shared this one last year but it’s a good one to share again this year. Why? Because it’s easy, inexpensive & effective!

Educational & Service Opportunity:

Drinking teas such as green tea can be very good for one’s dental health.

Does Tooth Sensitivity hold some of your patient’s back from enjoying their favorite hot beverage? Show them how you can help relieve/eliminate tooth sensitivity.


Here are 3 More Ways To Help Your Patients and Team Members Smile in January

National Skating Month – Team up with a local roller or ice rink for passes to give out as prizes for your younger patients.

Thank God It’s Monday” Day: 6 – Purchase the book “Thank God It’s Monday” to share with your employees. Start the new year loving Monday’s!

National Clean Off Your Desk Day: 13 – How are the desks looking in the office? Time to clear some clutter? Get rid of those sticky notes that are hanging around? Look at your work space through the eyes of your patients…. even if they don’t see your desk, this is a great day to organize and clear the chaos.

If you’re looking for even more ideas, please visit my January 2013 Dental Marketing Ideas here.

It is my wish that 2014 be your Best Year Yet!

If you have not yet subscribed to receive my Free Dental Marketing Ideas each month, please do so today.

As always, I would love to hear your comments on this month’s ideas!

Stay warm out there!

Yours for greater success,


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