As the world undergoes a massive digital transformation, so too does the dental industry. However, technology continues to evolve at break-neck speeds, making it both difficult and exciting to keep up. One of the biggest benefits these advancements have brought has been automation. Not only has automation technology made patient payment workflows more efficient, but it’s also made the process more convenient for patients and dental professionals alike.
While automating payment tasks sounds like it would be a headache, it’s actually never been easier. But before we dive into the four small changes you can make to improve the payment process, it’s important to discuss how patient preferences and perceptions are changing.
Changing Patient Payment Preferences
Ongoing digital transformation is constantly altering the way organizations operate—and that applies to the dental industry, too. Today, nearly 90% of Americans use digital payments in their day-to-day lives, and 89% of businesses accept these electronic options, according to McKinsey. As digital wallets, such as Apple Pay, PayPal and Google Pay become increasingly popular, more patients will expect their dentists to accept these payment methods.
Moreover, patients are becoming tired of dealing with overly complicated or outdated billing processes. According to a study from Rectangle Health, 35% of Gen Z and Millennials are willing to switch providers to take advantage of newer digital healthcare management tools. So, what does all of this mean for your dental practice?
Why Dental Practices Need to Adapt
As Millennials and Gen Z make up an increasingly larger portion of your patient base, appealing to them will be critical. These digital natives demand a streamlined payment experience with flexible options, and the only way to deliver that is through digital solutions. By creating a smooth and efficient payment process, not only will you save time and boost productivity, but you’ll also improve the overall patient experience—laying the groundwork for stronger relationships and increased loyalty.
Four Improvements You Can Implement in Patient Payments
Now that we understand why it’s important to optimize your payment process, it’s time to dive into how you can accomplish it. Here are four minor changes you can implement to improve patient satisfaction, boost efficiency and maximize cash flow:
1. Automate Posting Payments to Accounts
One of the biggest headaches for patients and practices is keeping track of payments and ensuring they’re applied to the right account. When transactions take a while to show up in an account, a patient might assume it never went through and end up overpaying. For administrative staff, these delays or overpayments can cause confusion and errors that take up valuable time to resolve.
With automated posting, payments are instantly entered into the patient ledger, providing transparency for them and your team. Patients can immediately see when a transaction goes through, eliminating the burden of monitoring their accounts. Automation also helps you avoid common errors that can disrupt your workflow, creating a seamless experience for you and your patients.
2. Generate Digital Statements
In today’s day and age, many patients prefer to receive their statements and other pertinent information electronically. After all, sending, receiving, storing and organizing physical paper documents can be quite a hassle—especially for those who need to have multiple appointments and treatments.
Automated digital statements offer a fast and convenient way to send billing information directly to your patients. That way, they have secure access anytime and anywhere—without having to search through paper documents. Using automated digital statements also allows you and your patients to easily view and track payment history and account balances.
3. Accept a Variety of Payment Options
Research shows that young adults are more likely to switch dentists for better technology and convenience. While it might sound trivial, expanding your practice’s digital payment methods with flexible options can make a huge difference for patients.
For instance, if someone primarily uses PayPal for their transactions because they don’t have a bank account, debit or credit card, allowing them to pay through that method could mean the difference between losing and retaining them. By offering a range of payment options, you stand to not only broaden your patient base, but also make it more likely that you’ll receive timely payments. This can reduce your risk of potential financial issues and even add a boost to your cash flow.
4. Send Automated Reminders to Patients
Late and missed payments can be a huge source of frustration for both patients and practices. Patients might have to deal with unexpected financial consequences, and for practices, it can cause significant cash flow disruptions.
Automated payment reminders can save both parties a lot of time and worry. Practices can customize reminders to fit their specific needs and set up automated schedules to notify patients via text message or email. These messages provide clear instructions to ensure your patients pay on time and your cash flow remains steady — all while minimizing missed payments and mitigating financial risks.
How to Change Your Payment Process
You might be thinking, “All of these payment process changes sound great, but how do I implement any of them?”
Advancements in dental practice management software have made it easier than ever to enhance your operations with a single solution. From automating ledgers, statements and reminders, to expanding your digital payment options, the latest payment processing technology does it all. And with cloud computing, you won’t have to worry about maintaining or upgrading physical infrastructure. All your data is stored safely in the cloud with secure sharing and transfer options.
Streamline Payments and Maximize Cash Flow with Carestream Dental
Payment Solutions from Sensei are an intelligent set of automated solutions that streamline and simplify the entire payment process from beginning to end.
With solutions like Payment Manager and Automated Statements, it’s easy to:
- Post payment records instantly to the patient ledger for complete visibility.
- Process payments and set up recurring plans with a variety of preferred payment methods.
- Send automated digital statements or high-quality printed documents through the mail.
- And much more.
Experience the height of payment integration with practice management software.