We have many opportunities to build trust with patients. We take so much care to build our brands and market the image we want for our practice. We invest in the best tools, clinical training, and team to serve patients well. We know the importance of patient satisfaction to referrals, reviews, and case acceptance.
With all we do to build trust with patients, we must be careful to not lose that trust because of how we collect copays. Here is why this is so important and best practices to make sure you maximize patient satisfaction in your practice.
The way you collect copays matters.
Dental insurance is complicated. It is complicated for practices. Imagine how our patients feel. Every day, patients come into an office for routine treatments like cleanings and assume their insurance covers it 100%. Some think dental insurance works like health insurance, which generally does not require a copay for annual checkups. Others think anything that happens during a cleaning is covered without a copay. We know dental insurance is not that simple. Patients do not.
When a patient is asked for a copay they do not expect, the best-case scenario is an awkward conversation. The worst-case scenario is they get upset with us. Rarely will they leave feeling thrilled about their experience if they end up paying more than they expected.
If this happens over and over again, patients will lose trust with us and move to a different dentist. If the other practice better manages their expectations, your patient will be much more satisfied there, even with the same copays. Here are best practices for collecting copays without damaging patient relationships.
Verify insurance benefits before the patient is seen.
Have someone on your team verify what insurance covers before the patient comes in. Make sure you can explain to each patient exactly what will be performed during the procedure and expected out-of-pocket costs.
Your team members can find out what their insurance covers on the phone or computer. If a patient’s plan does not cover preventative care 100%, find out before the patient comes in.
Explain the procedure and out-of-pocket costs beforehand.
When the patient arrives, explain to them what their insurance covers and what is expected of them. Discussing this with them before they receive the treatment helps eliminate surprise and bad feelings.
Collect copays before you bring them into the back.
Collecting copays before the patient receives the treatment ensures you will get paid. It also helps avoid surprises at the end. Finally, it allows you to control how your appointment ends.
Are you looking to collect reviews? You can let patients know they will receive a review request at the end of the appointment. Do you want to make sure the patient books their next exam? You can get them scheduled quickly and send them off for the rest of their day. Collecting copays up front gives you more control over the last interaction your patients have with your practice that day. Make it a pleasant one and avoid negative surprises.
Address additional expenses before performing that treatment.
If you notice something that needs to be addressed during the procedure, do not perform it without discussing it with your patient. Talk with them about the issue. Explain the benefit to them. Let them know it would be a separate cost. Offer to verify their out-of-pocket costs with their insurance before performing it. Even if they authorize you to proceed without verification, they will appreciate the explanation and offer.
Preauthorize larger procedures.
It is one thing to ask a patient for an unexpected $20 copay. It is a whole other thing to ask them for hundreds of dollars they did not expect to pay. For that reason, we recommend preauthorizing all larger procedures. Not only will it ensure your patient is ready to pay their share, but your offer will also build trust with patients. It shows them you care about them and do not only see them as a number.
How do you collect copays in your practice?
We cannot expect every patient to understand exactly what their insurance covers. But we can make sure that we understand what their insurance covers and make sure they know what is expected of them beforehand.
If you have struggled with collecting copays, take a few minutes to verify insurance benefits before the patient comes in. Explain the out-of-pocket costs to your patients beforehand. Collect the copay before treatment is received. Talk about anything new that comes up during the treatment. And preauthorize any larger procedures that need to be done. By doing so, you will build much deeper relationships with patients and ensure appointments end on a more positive note.