If you are continuously looking for ways to set goals for your dental practice, your best bet could lie in your dental AR benchmarks. Generally, when dentists discuss how to benchmark their practice, they will look at factors such as finding ways to reach new patient number goals. However, taking a look at your accounts receivable and delegating where your practice is having shortfalls will help in building a more profitable business structure.
Assigning dental accounts receivable (AR) benchmarks will help in not only growing a financially healthy business, but it will take off the weight that comes each time you sit down to pay the bills. And outlining methods in which your practice can meet these goals can only be done by laying out your current accounting situation and finding solutions.
Step 1: Set A 90-Day Goal
There is some debate on what the maximum age of your accounts receivable should be. Some believe only 20% of your AR should be over 60 days, while others suggest that you shouldn’t have any after a period of three months.
Falling in line with this strategy, you should at least set a benchmark for 90 days. That gives you three months to regulate your accounts receivable. At the end of those three months, your AR should, at the very minimum, make up 80% of your current patients’ payments. The other 20% can be made up of outstanding balances, but again, this number is pretty high. You can set your benchmarks for even better numbers depending on your current finances.
Step 2: Develop Sheets For Monthly Comparison
In relation to setting your dental AR benchmarks, it’s imperative that your monthly payment spreadsheets can be compared side by side. In other words, make sure you have your AR formatted so that you can compare January to February, February to March, and so on. At the top of each month, list your current AR followed by your goals. You should also have sections in these file dedicated to other contributors, such as the monthly number of credits, the amount or percentage of payments that are over 90 days, and the insurance estimation.
These sheets can also help highlight over the counter (OTC) collections which, as a general rule of thumb, should not exceed 45% of your office’s current production rate. In essence, a side-by-side spreadsheet of your AR will be immensely helpful if you are looking into news ways on how to benchmark your dental practice.
Step 3: Ensure Consistency in Payments
Besides automated computer filings, the spreadsheets like the ones mentioned above can help you see where there are inconsistencies in payments. Moreover, they will be able to easily indicate who is behind and by how much. These are the people you will need to reach out to first for payments (or risk sending them to collections). Then you can set a benchmark to determine the percentage of your collections so that you can make adjustments in processing payments.
In order to ensure consistency in payments, you need to have a strict regime about billing responsibilities. How often are reminders being sent out? Who is sending them out? Even with the trust in your team, it’s important to set standard operating procedures that indicate these responsibilities. You can implement a call log that references each time your office calls a patient for payment. This should be done for all email correspondences as well.
If your specific clientele is prone to missed payments, one way to help both them and your AR is to offer them a solution. It would be beneficial to accept credit partners like CareCredit from your patients to ensure your costs are being met at all times.
Step 4: Set Your Dental AR Benchmark at 1.0
This can be hard to master in a month-to-month benchmark goal. Having a dental AR benchmark at 1.0 can be difficult, but definitely not impossible. At this rate of performance, your production will be on par with your AR. In other words, if you’re producing $50,000 worth of production in your dental office in July, then your accounts receivable in July should reflect the same number.
In order to get to this benchmark, it’s important to follow the aforementioned procedures. But, like most financial hiccups, these things take time to remedy. If your AR is nowhere near this number, you should take your most recent AR numbers and use them to reflect in a year from now.
That’s right; you can take a full year in order to balance out your finances. But at the end of the year, if your dental AR benchmark isn’t met at the recommended 1.0, you may have bigger problems. However, a year will give you enough time to determine how much your collection rate is after taking out yearly production adjustments (i.e. charity or discounted procedures).
Step 5: Reduce Your Billing
And on top of everything, another benchmark that you should implement for your accounts receivable is a reduction in your billing process. And while you still need a regime for reaching out to patients for payment, this should be done in moderation.
Billing is radically overpriced; a single statement can cost anywhere from $5 to $10. Multiply that by the number of patients in your AR, and you have another hefty bill to deal with. And unfortunately, billing is a service all dentists need in order to run their business.
To cut back on costs, set a benchmark on how often you will bill your patients. By the end of the year, cut that number in half. You will want to send out bills well before the 90-day benchmark, and you can always send emails as an additional reminder. Whatever the case may be, a reduction in your billing will help ensure that your production and AR balance each other out by the end of the year.
If you need collections assistance in order to set benchmarks for your dental practice, contact us, we will ensure that your dental AR benchmarks will get easier by the year.