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Monday, September 4, 2017

Who Makes Financial Arrangements with the Patient and Who DOES NOT!

In a typical, well-run dental office treatment planning is the responsibility of the dentist and the financial arrangements are made by the front office staff members. It is vital that these two areas stay separate and neither side encroaches on the others area of authority.

As a dentist, I would not be happy if my front office staff changed my treatment plan for the patient – in fact – I would be mad. If a patient had financial challenges and could not arrange for the treatment we had agreed upon, then I needed to be brought back in to re-explain the treatment plan or plan an alternative approach that solved the patient’s issues. The treatment plan is not to be set by the front office staff – that was not their area of expertise or responsibility.

Likewise, the dentist should never be involved in setting fees, insurance, payment plans or other financial issues that are the front office staff’s area of responsibility. The dentist should be the passionate dental professional and not involved in the money matters (from the patient’s perspective). The staff are the people who know the insurance and understand the office’s financial policies. It is their job to set the plan and then execute it. They talk money and payments – you the dentist do not.

It the patients believe that they can go around the front office staff to change the financial arrangements with the dentist then you have taken all the power and authority away from the people tasked to collect the money. The staff cannot set plans or collect moneys effectively if the patients know they can ignore them and go straight to you – the dentist.

Your staff will resent you usurping their responsibility and complicating their job. Your daily life will be harder as the dentist/CEO if the patients are asking you to make financial arrangements and are asking you for special considerations.

Do yourself a favor and just say “NO”. Tell the patients that you are awful at all the financial stuff and would most likely just screw it all up. Tell them you are the wizard of the oral cavity but that your staff is people who know the insurance and other financial stuff. Tell them the staff can help you the right way and that you don’t even know how to turn the computer on. Kid around and point them back to the front office staff.

Dr. Corey Gold
President – Advanced Continuing Education Systems
www.aces4ce.com

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