By: AJ Peak
We all depend on collecting money from our patients. It’s awfully important and it gets really difficult in an environment like today, with front office turnover and general burnout from menial daily tasks. Even the most experienced DSO managers and dentists struggle with ways to optimize their accounts receivable software. Today we’re going to talk about modernizing your dental support organizations and our journey at Peak Dental, as well as scaling up your DSO by leveraging technology to improve your patient collections.
First a little about me, I’m the son of a dentist and had spent about 10 years working for a big consulting firm. I eventually made the insane decision to resign and start a business from scratch with my father. In the beginning it was just me and my dad along with 4 employees. I was extremely fortunate to have met some really talented people along the way and since then, Peak Dental has grown to over 60 locations throughout Colorado and Texas.
Scaling and building patient collections for dental practices
I learned early on at Peak Dental that one of the important aspects of the business was how we handled aging patient AR. When you think about scaling and building your patient collections, we try to break it into 5 components. It’s fairly simple, but there are a lot of pieces to it.
Here are the 5 components to building and scaling your patient collections:
- Verifying insurance
- Collecting at the appointment
- Sending a clean claim
- Troubleshoot (if all else fails)
- Patient A/R management
Of all five, the most impactful are the first two, as being diligent at the point of impact sets the practice and the patient up best for success. However, we’ve found that the next most impactful element is effective collection from Abella.
Abella, which uses automated email and text technology to send the patients their balance and provides easy text-to-pay options. It has honestly been really amazing. Those first text messages and emails are sent to patients within 5 days of the balance and help to facilitate payment by just making it easy for them to make those payments and if needed, pick a payment plan they can stick with.
What makes Abella Accounts Receivable Software so great?
Abella is software you can turn on or off as needed for your dental AR collections. We always leave Abella on for patient payment and every week Abella will send an email and text, once a month it will send statements, and after three months the pre-collect firm starts making an outbound call. At the six month mark patients with balances will have received thirty messages and/or calls for an attempt to collect. At that point, we automatically send it into collections.
Link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jiN6DbX677c&t=14s
If any of you reading this are vendors, founders, or executives of dental practices’, I’m sure you’ve met with people about various AR collection software options. Trust me, none of them are like Abella. I personally get pitched various services daily and I earnestly thought Abella was too good to be true. I was incredibly skeptical and worried about the patient experience but I went with my gut. We ended up giving it a try and it has been wildly successful. In just 4 months we collected over six figures!
I’m going to share eight things we’ve learned and have accomplished while working with Abella:
- We worked with automated queries. We automated every day and sent a file to Abella. It took us about 2 weeks to pilot it with a few locations and after that we set it up for as many practices as we wanted.
- We started with small batches. You give Abella what you have and then give them instructions about how much you want to drip, because chances are you have a lot of patient balances.
- It triggers a ton of calls, your front office will get swamped if you unleash it all. In the beginning we dripped 20 a day and then we learned that 50 a day is no problem per practice.
- Within a month all statements were out and then it was just the incremental patient balances.
- We could select one regional manager to be the champion, they were the only one in the company that had access to log into Abella.
- We launched it to all locations and informed our teams that starting tomorrow, our patients are going to get email and text messages, if they call, collect. That was all the training needed.
- We didn’t take Abella seriously when they said a lot of people would pay, but a lot of people paid. Patients can pay through the phone with a text-to-pay option in a very easy way and can also certainly call us to pay if they wanted.
- It works fast.
How quickly can we start collecting aging patient AR?
We received 40% of the balances we sent to Abella in seven days. Patients that owed money for 4-5 months and blew off our statements and phone calls began to make payments because of Abella. It has been one of our most successful collection strategies.
Improvement in patient satisfaction
The most important value, (and why we initially did a brief pilot) is that our number one core value is to put the patient experience first. The number one communication that comes from me to our team regards patient satisfaction and what we do to measure it. I truly believe we measure it more than any other DSO in the country.
I wasn’t prepared to do this if it ruined our Google reviews and net promoter score tracking. Honestly, we didn’t see any degradation in our Google scores or our patient satisfaction scores.
Also, if you understand net promoter scores, we average in the 90’s. The Ritz is 80 as an example. So this did not damage it and I truly believe it’s because Abella makes it quick, easy, and the patients are notified right away. Even the text messages are friendlier than our own statements.
I encourage you to try Abella for your collections process, you will see the results immediately. I believe they still offer a 60-day risk free trial so you can get it up and running and see how well it works for yourself. It works with all major dental practice management software and scales beautifully to fit whatever size DSO you have.
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