It is imperative that dental team members in financial roles recognize the often delicate nature of their assigned tasks. In many dental practices, the negotiation of patient financial arrangements and management of account receivables is delegated to an office manager or billing coordinator.
Unfortunately, financial disputes are a frequent cause of a breakdown in the relationship between a patient and a practice. Most financial disputes and associated legal claims can be avoided by establishing clear, concrete financial policies and following them.
The person responsible for making financial arrangements should be comfortable discussing financial matters. Whenever a payment is overdue, the patient should be contacted in a courteous manner in order to determine the problem before it creates a rift in the patient relationship.
Another responsibility of the office’s financial manager is sending accounts to collection. While it is the practice owner’s legal right to pursue a collection action for an outstanding debt, it should be noted that collection actions against patients frequently result in board complaints and retaliatory claims of malpractice against the dentist.
Practicing sound risk management in the dental office isn’t difficult when the dentist and staff members take a team approach to risk management.