Collecting Dental Patient Payments: When to Ask & When They Pay
Explore data-driven insights from Pearly on the optimal days for dental providers to collect patient payments. We’ll examine trends suggesting that mid-week days could be particularly effective for collections and offer insights into how Mondays and Tuesdays play a strategic role in setting the stage for the week's payments. Armed with this information, dental practices and support organizations can significantly improve their collection strategies for better operational efficiency and financial stability.
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In the dental industry, effective collections are a crucial element that enables the provision of quality services. Payment delays and defaults are a significant concern for any practice, and can drag down a practice’s financial health without proper management and vigilance.
A strategic approach to collections can significantly improve these outcomes, and that's where data-driven decisions come into play.
Using data from hundreds of thousands of transactions, we set out to determine this approach, and learned some surprising trends that changed the way that we think about patient outreach.
Diving into our data set, we discovered that specific days of the week are more advantageous than others for collecting patient payments. Moreover, we also narrowed down the best days to send notifications to patients to maximize collections with the fewest number of touchpoints.
With these insights, we hope to guide dental providers on when to reach out to patients for optimum results.
We extracted a selection of patient payments recorded in our database over a 90-day period (a sample of over 200,000 transactions), allowing us to accumulate a robust set of information to work from.
This three-month timeframe offers a wide view, encompassing various payment habits and cycles, thus minimizing the effects of any anomalies or outliers that could skew the data.
We then analyzed the distribution of these payments based on the dates on which they were made. This enabled us to identify clear patterns and trends, specifically pinpointing the days of the week when payments were most commonly made and which days were best for outreach.
The Best Days for Payments
We see that while Tuesdays and Wednesdays are effective days for patient payments (accounting for 19.63% and 19.96% of payments, respectively). Thursdays and Fridays perform even better, each capturing an extra percent total payments. This pattern contrasts starkly with the payment behaviors observed on Mondays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
Particularly, Saturdays and Sundays emerged as the least effective days for collections. This is in part because we discourage practices from conducting patient billing outreach during the weekend.
Understanding this distribution allows dental providers to tailor their collection strategies more effectively, concentrating their efforts on days when patients are most responsive. This data-driven approach not only helps in efficient resource allocation but also in setting realistic collection targets for each day of the week.
Patients rarely pay their bills on Mondays
Monday Madness: Why does Monday Underperform?
At first glance, one might assume that Monday, being a weekday, should be a reasonable day for collections. However, the data tells a different story, indicating that Mondays consistently underperform when compared to other weekdays like Tuesday through Friday.
One explanation could be the "Monday syndrome," where people are transitioning from the weekend mindset back into work mode. They may be flooded with emails, tasks, and responsibilities that accumulated over the weekend, making it a less-than-ideal time to focus on settling bills.
This could be further exacerbated if patients are also receiving weekend billing information on Monday, adding to an already overwhelming start to the week. Dental practices should consider this when planning their collection strategies, potentially leveraging Monday as a "preparation day" for the more lucrative days to follow.
Why Mid-Week Days Shine
While the data does not go into the specifics of why these trends occur, one can make some educated speculation. Mid-week days, from Tuesday to Friday, usually represent a more structured routine for most individuals. People are generally more focused and organized, making them more likely to take care of bills, including medical payments.
Weekends are generally reserved for personal and family activities, leaving little room for administrative tasks like settling medical bills. Mondays can also be challenging, often becoming a whirlwind of catch-up tasks as people transition back into their workweek routines. These lifestyle factors likely contribute to the lower collection rates observed on weekends and Mondays.
Drawing from the same data, it stands to reason that dental providers should focus their collection efforts on Tuesdays through Fridays. Contacting patients on these days, either through automated reminders, emails, or phone calls, is likely to result in prompt payments.
But is that the case?
Timing Outreach: What Days are Best?
While the days of the week when most payments are received can offer valuable insights, understanding the effectiveness of outreach is another crucial angle. While patients might pay on certain days of the week, the optimal day to ping them about payment isn’t necessarily the same.
We see an interesting dynamic here: the days with the lowest average number of days it takes for payment to be received after a final notification holds an almost inverse relationship with the days of patient payments.
This observation presents a compelling case for the timing of outreach. Tuesday emerges as the most effective day for sending payment reminders if you're aiming for swift payments. It only requires on average 2.91 days to receive payment compared to Friday’s 5.32 days. Interestingly, Monday, which had lower overall collections, still fares well in terms of response time, coming in a close second to Tuesday.
Tuesday is the best day to start patient outreach.
Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday show a gradual increase in payment response times. This could indicate that if people are only notified later in the week, they may be either busier or less inclined to immediately address their financial obligations to dental practices. Moreover, we’re also seeing that patients seldom pay their bills on weekends.
These statistics suggest that while the bulk of payments may be received from Tuesday to Friday, Monday stands out as a surprisingly effective day for initiating outreach, especially if quick payments are a priority.
By aligning collection efforts with the days when patients are most likely to pay, dental practices can optimize staff time and resources for this crucial administrative task. This targeted approach not only increases the likelihood of immediate payment but also allows dental offices to streamline their operations, making for a more efficient and financially stable practice.
Dental practices might therefore consider a two-pronged strategy: utilizing Monday and Tuesday for the most urgent collections requiring fast payment, while focusing on Tuesday through Friday for general collections, where the majority of payments are likely to come in.
More on Monday and Tuesday: Setting the Tone for the Week
While Mondays and Tuesdays statistically show lower payment rates according to Pearly's data, there's a strategic angle to consider. Sending reminders on these days could set the stage for payments to occur on the succeeding, more lucrative days of the week. Think of it as a "preparation day" that gets patients thinking about their pending bills and primes them for taking action.
As people catch up with their emails and notifications after the weekend, a reminder at the beginning of the week can be a timely nudge. This might encourage them to schedule the payment for one of the more optimal days like Thursday or Friday when they are more likely to follow through. Thus, Monday, although not ideal for actual payments, can serve as an effective day to cue up the payment process, acting as a catalyst for the more fruitful days that follow.
Takeaways: Tips for How to Engage Patients
Reach out to patients during business hours, when they are more likely to be near their phones and computers and able to make immediate payments. Utilizing a combination of communication channels can also improve your chances of timely collections. Avoid sending reminders during lunch hours or too early in the morning, as they may get overlooked during these times.
Scheduled Reminders: Use automated reminders to prompt payments on these optimal days. Scheduling reminders for Tuesdays through Fridays can increase the likelihood of immediate response and payment. Incorporate the convenience of one-click payment options in these reminders to expedite the process.
Multi-Channel Approach: Use a combination of text messages, emails, and even phone calls for a higher rate of success. Some patients may prefer one form of communication over others, so a multi-faceted approach can be advantageous. Tailor your methods based on historical response rates to maximize effectiveness.
Personalize Communication: Customized messages can be more compelling than generic reminders–especially for text messages. Personalization can make patients feel valued, encouraging them to prioritize payments. By addressing the patient by their name and referring to specific services or appointments, the message is more likely to capture attention and prompt action.
Payment Flexibility: Offer multiple payment options like online payments, mobile payments, and even installment plans. The easier you make it for patients to pay, the more likely they will. Highlighting this flexibility in your communication can eliminate perceived barriers, making patients more inclined to settle their bills promptly.
Understanding the days when patients are most likely to make payments can dramatically enhance collection efforts. Pearly's data suggests that focusing on Tuesdays through Fridays can optimize the probability of receiving timely payments, leading to improved operational efficiency and financial stability for dental practices. While many of the challenges related to collections can be efficiently addressed by automated scheduled outreach software, like Pearly, this report serves as a robust guideline for best practices.
The right strategy, backed by reliable data and an arsenal of software tools designed for both scheduling reminders and facilitating multi-channel communication, can significantly impact the success of dental collections.
Leverage these insights to refine your approach for the most effective outcomes. With the right timing, targeted strategies, and the support of sophisticated outreach software, converting data to dollars becomes a tangible reality, ultimately fortifying the financial well-being of your dental practice.