Without proper systems and processes, managing billing at your orthodontics practice can take up as much time as you spend with your patients. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to streamline various payment-related activities in your dentistry practice.
Let’s look at the different ways to optimize your orthodontics billing to ensure that you get paid on time—while improving the patient experience in the process.
1. Use ACH to Save on Fees
The costs for orthodontic treatments can run high, and since most payment processing fees are based on the transaction amount, you’re likely paying more when accepting credit cards.
That’s why it makes sense for orthodontists to look into alternative billing methods such as ACH payments.
ACH costs less than $1 per transaction to providers, unlike credit cards that vary in percentages, usually between 3-4% per transaction. Those savings add up, especially if you’re billing a patient for high-cost ortho and dental procedures. Once you send a patient an invoice, they can enter their bank account information and complete the payment. Patients can also set up autopay for recurring invoices so you don’t have to worry about late payments. You’ll get paid faster and at a much lower cost.
2. Offer Various Payment Options
One of the best ways to get paid faster is to eliminate any hoops that your patients have to jump through. Part of doing that lies in being flexible with the types of payments that you accept. In addition to the above-mentioned ACH and credit card payments, it may also help to support the following:
- Online payment portals
- Dental financing (like CareCredit)
- Automated Payments
- Payment Plans
Giving patients various options allows them to choose a payment method that’s most convenient for them, ultimately helping them pay their bills in a timely manner.
3. Prioritize Patient Communication
Billing mishaps often take place when patients aren’t fully educated on their billing responsibilities. Perhaps they assumed that their bill will be handled by their dental insurance company. Or maybe the payment deadline wasn’t communicated properly.
Whatever the case may be, you can avoid these situations with the right communication practices. Before providing orthodontic care, ensure that the patient understands how much is due, when payments need to be made, and who the responsible party is.
If they’re on a payment plan, send reminders and follow-up messages to ensure that you get paid on time.
In some cases, it also helps to remind them about what specific dental and orthodontic benefits (e.g., Invisalign, retainers, x-rays, etc.) are covered by their insurance plan. And if anything isn’t clear to the patient, refer them to their insurance carrier.
4. Tighten up Your Internal Processes
Orthodontic billing involves several steps. You need to fill out claim forms, enter procedure codes, and onboard new patients, among other things. It’s all too easy for things to slip through the cracks in a busy dental office, which is why you must tighten up your internal processes.
Establish repeatable systems in your practice and document them thoroughly. This will help keep your procedures consistent and make it easy for your staff to learn and execute your processes.
While every dental practice is different, here are some of the common billing tasks that you need to handle.
- Verifying the patient’s insurance
- Verifying the patient’s benefits and eligibility
- Implementing treatment pre-authorizations
- Submitting dental and orthodontic claims
- Designing payment plans for patients
- Collecting patient bills
Have a standardized and documented process for each of the above items and make the information easily accessible to your staff so they can carry out your processes with ease.
5. Use a Practice-Friendly Payment Processor
While they may be relatively more expensive to process, it isn’t a wise business decision to shun credit card payments completely. Given that credit cards (and by extension, mobile wallets, and contactless payments) are extremely popular among consumers, your practice must accept them.
The good news is you can significantly lower your credit card processing costs by choosing a payment processor with the right pricing structure. Opt for a merchant services provider that doesn’t take a cut out of your sales.
Stax, for instance, charges a flat monthly fee and gives you access to direct cost of interchange. Unlike most processors, we don’t add a markup on your processing costs. Instead, we bill a predictable membership fee every month and give you access to wholesale credit card processing rates.
6. Use Practice Management Software to Track Your Payer Mix
Your payer mix is crucial to your practice’s cash flow. A payer mix is the total distribution of how your patients pay for their care. They can pay through private insurance, government-funded options, or completely out of their own pocket. Having a good balance between the three creates a steady cash flow for your practice. For instance, if your payer mix leans towards federal insurance programs like Medicaid, changes in regulations can upset your cash flow and revenue.
You can track your payer mix through practice management software like OrthoTrac. You can even check the status of insurance claims and reimbursements so you get paid faster. To stay competitive, you should assess your payer mix and make adjustments as necessary, like accepting more forms of insurance. And to work even more efficiently, choose a payment processor like Stax that integrates seamlessly with OrthoTrac and other practice management software.
7. End Time-Consuming Reconciliation by Integrating Systems
Integrating the different software applications you use in your practice enables your apps to “talk” to each other, so data flows smoothly from one platform to the next. And since dental billing involves plenty of data entry and paperwork, having a tightly-integrated system goes a long way in improving business efficiency.
With Stax integrations, you don’t have to stop using the tools you already love. Our software also connects with software like OrthoTrac, DentalXChange, and 200 other applications and platforms. You can manage the most vital aspects of your orthodontic practice’s billing from a single platform. Plus, with our 2-way sync with QuickBooks Online, your data is automatically transferred between the two platforms, making reconciling a thing of the past.
See how integrated healthcare payment technology can help your orthodontic practice. And if you’d like to discuss your dental billing needs in more detail, contact the Stax team today.