Patient responsibility. Patient co-insurance. Patient co-pay. Patient expense. Patient share of cost. Each of these terms result in the same definition – the amount owed by the patient for dental services rendered. I am a major proponent for collecting patient portions at time of service. The age-old “handshake agreement” between the office and the patient for payment of services has become a thing of the past.

Dental office payment policies have become more defined over the years to train patients to pay for services at the time services are rendered. More and more dental practices today make every effort to provide the patient an estimate of cost before services are rendered. This proactive approach to patient collections leads to increased patient payments, a reduction in overdue accounts, and improved relations between the patient and the dental practice.

None-the-less, situations and scenarios exist which present moments in time where patient collections are not ideal. Staff turnover, inefficient billing processes, and delayed patient billing can all lead to large overdue accounts aging balance. When the accounts receivable aging surpasses manageable numbers, the billing team will benefit from the development of a stable and timely patient billing process.
I have witnessed offices at every extreme and in between. Offices that send billing statements on a daily basis, and offices that have not sent billing statements in over 6 months. Offices that consistently collect at time of service and offices that never mention finances in the office… ever.

The process of billing and collecting the patient share of cost can vary from dental office to dental office, though there are some common routines that should be followed. Today, let’s streamline your patient billing with a walk through of several tools available to you in the Easy Dental patient billing statement options.

Streamline Your Patient Billing Statement Processes

Access to Patient Billing Statements

A group of billing statements can be generated from the Reports screen by selecting the Billing icon, or by using the short cut keys Alt + B from within the Reports screen.

The production of a group of billing statements is the preferred method for patient billing when you are working to send billing statements efficiently, without completing a full review of each patient account.

A single billing statement can be generated from the Account screen by first selecting a patient, then selecting the Print menu and Statement, or by using the short cut keys Alt + T then the letter S.

Single billing statements, while more time consuming and less time efficient compared to grouped patient billing, can provide benefit when you are generating patient billing statements from an Aging Report.

Need More Balance Transaction Information? Not a Problem!

Have you ever produced a billing statement and the only transaction information on the statement was “Balance Forward”, and wonder why?

When you produce a billing statement from the Accounts screen, Easy Dental will only print current transactions on the billing statement (i.e. transactions since the last month end close or transactions with insurance payments since the last month end close).

When you produce a billing statement from the Reports Billing Statement options, you have control over transaction history with the “Balance Forward Date” field. Simply enter the date of the first transaction you would like to appear on the patient billing statement.

Elimination of “Insurance Only” Balances

When you choose to send billing statements only to patients with a patient share of cost, the feature to Skip accounts with claim pending is ideal to use. This feature will eliminate billing statements for accounts with an active insurance claim when the patient share of cost is less than the amount indicated.

The greater the number in the If Patient Portion Less Than field, more billing statements will be eliminated. The lower the number in this field, less billing statements will be eliminated.

Frequency/Time of Patient Billing

A steady stream of revenue is achieved when billing statements are sent on a frequent basis.

  • To achieve this steady stream of revenue, offices may choose to batch their billing by sending a portion of the alphabet at the beginning of the month and the remainder of the alphabet at the middle of the month.
  • Another option is to utilize the If Not Billed Since feature. This feature allows you to process all billing statements for account balances that have not received a statement since the date indicated.
    • This tool was designed specifically for offices wanting to generate billing statements on a daily or weekly basis. Simply activate the feature, then place a “last billed date”. If you want to send statements to all accounts who have not been billed within the past 3 weeks, you will back date the If Not Billed Since date box by 3 weeks.
    • Every time a billing statement is produced for a family, a record of that billing statement is recorded in the Contacts screen for the account Guarantor. It is this record of a billing statement being sent that controls when a new billing statement will be produced through the If Not Billed Since feature.
Grouping by Billing Type

Assigning billing types to families is beneficial for a variety of reasons. One of the biggest reasons is for billing statements. With active assignment of billing types, you can easily batch your patient billing statements into groups. Grouping by billing types allows you to quickly process your ‘Cash’ patient billing statements, then process your ‘Insurance’ patients, then your ‘At Risk’, then your ‘Ortho’, etc. By grouping your billing statements in this fashion, you can process each group with the individualized focus they require.

As you can see, there are many options to consider when processing your patient billing statements. Creating a streamlined and predictable approach is key to your billing and collections success. This concludes part 1 of a 2-part series for patient billing statements. Watch in the coming weeks for part 2, Billing Statements Processing with Ease. In the meantime, please share or comment below. Reach out to me directly at [email protected] with any specific billing concerns.

David Broom is Senior Director of Product and Business Development. David has a master’s degree in Information Technology (IT) from the University of Texas in Dallas and has more than 35 years of experience from many global companies such as Hitachi Vantara, Methode Electronics, and Keane, Inc. In his current role, he is responsible for all aspects of the product management and field service teams at Henry Schein TechCentral, which identifies the ideal advanced technologies to meet the unique needs of the dental market and ensure that dental offices are using the right IT to be more efficient and effective.