Dental Intelligence Payments - A Simple Way to Deal With Staffing Shortages

Dental Intelligence Payments was built to help you provide more and better dentistry to your patients.


The numbers tell the story. In a recent survey done by the ADA Health Policy Institute, 40% of all participating practices indicated that troubles with filling vacant staff positions was the #1 reason they were unable to see more patients.

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Staffing shortages are much on the mind of many dental practice owners and leaders these days, and for good reason. In a recent poll published on Becker’s Hospital Review, one in five health-care workers left the industry in the past two years, and a stunning 79% of practices reported that staffing shortages had personally impacted them and their workplace. In a related development, many within healthcare, including dentists, hygienists, and other clinical providers and team members are also reporting significant problems with burnout. According to another recent article, “In August 2020, an ADA Health Policy Institute survey on the impact of COVID-19 on dentists under the age of 35 found that 87% reported experiencing anxiety and 55% reported experiencing depression.” All of this data speaks to something that’s likely obvious to someone working in a dental practice — providing dentistry is really hard right now!

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Our mission at Dental Intelligence is simple: Help dental practices to provide more and better dentistry to their patients. However, you can’t do this if you don’t have the tools, resources, and team members required to accomplish these objectives. But what can be done? While the answer of what to do to deal with staffing shortages and burnout varies according to each practice, there are principles and solutions that apply in every situation. This case study will focus on how Dental Intelligence Payments, a simple-and-secure patient payment tool, has helped several practices deal with some of these recent challenges while improving patient care and practice growth. Regardless of what your practice may currently be experiencing, you’ll be excited to learn what’s happening in these practices and how you can enjoy similar results.

Schedule a demo to see Payments in action

“$20,000 in past-due balances collected in a matter of days”

Highland Dental, a large and established general practice in Liberty, Missouri, has experienced what most practices have been through in the past two years — lots of uncertainty, stress, and adaptation. This is also true of their patients. Due to a variety of factors, Highland had built a sizable AR balance that team members were struggling to bring under control. This was impacting the practice financially as well as overall team morale. Highland had tried all of the typical steps to collect from patients, but they weren’t seeing a measurable return on those efforts. They were then introduced to Payments.

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According to Scot Kessler, Director of Business Operations and Development at Highlands, “Our first Payments request was sent to around 800 patients with outstanding AR due. We’d been working hard to clean up our overdue balances and had made several attempts to call or contact these patients, but without success. However, within minutes of sending a text message using Payments, the phone began to ring with people wanting to pay some or all of their overdue balances. Others used our pay-by-phone/website options. All told, we collected over $20,000 in past-due balances within a few days of sending one message to every single one of these 800 patients.”

Can you imagine? Communicating with 800 patients with a single message indicating they have a balance due and then, in just a few days, collecting over $20,000 in past-due AR from these patients? In fact, this campaign was so effective Highland had to put it on hold because their front desk was overwhelmed with calls from patients trying to pay. Based on this experience, Dental Intelligence saw a need to make text-to-pay even easier for patients to use instead of calling the practice to pay their balance. Added benefits here include increased security for the patient and better workflow for the practice.

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Payments enabled Highland Dental to also audit all their outstanding balances and made everyone’s job easier and less time-consuming. This text-to-pay platform checked all the boxes that Highland was looking for in a payment solution.

Recent surveys have shown that patients are very interested in using text-to-pay when visiting their dentist.

  • 51% of Americans are currently using contactless payments, and this is only going to increase
  • 9 out of 10 patients consider contactless payment a better solution than the old way
  • 9 out of 10 also want to see new safety measures in place around interactions
  • 97% of text messages are opened
  • 70% of patients want to pay their bill via text, but less than 20% of dental practices currently offer this option
  • 65% of patients would consider switching dental practices to one offering a better payment experience

These numbers should at the least spark a conversation about how you are currently handling patient payments and if an upgrade to text-to-pay is needed. (Hint: The answer is “yes!”)

Schedule a demo to see Payments in action

“Our collections percentage is way up and our workload is down”

The team at Smiley Family Dentistry in Grand Rapids, Michigan can relate to what Highlands Dental has experienced. According to Financial Coordinator Colleen Ford, “I used to spend most of my day trying to manage collections and patient payments.” In our conversations with many other office managers and financial coordinators, this has been a common frustration. The time and effort required to stay on top of collections is significant. One practice we spoke to indicated they spent almost a week each month dealing with past-due balances. That’s a heavy load for any one team member to carry. As we spoke with Colleen and office manager Kori DeHaan about their efforts to find a better way, they shared how important it was that the solution be simple for both patients and team members. This is what Payments was built for.

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“Now with Payments I can get all my billing done in two hours or less each day,” Colleen shared. “Following up with patients on payments is now easier as well. I’m much more efficient and our patients love how easy it is to use.” Kori added that “Payments has definitely simplified things for Smiley Family Dentistry. Our collections percentage is way up and our workload is down. This means we can focus on other important priorities. And our patients have loved the switch as well. It’s been such a blessing.”

In the spirit of doing everything possible to reduce staff workload, offering patients the ability to pay directly from a text message (or if they use Apple Pay, from a single click) is a great way to make your team and patients smile. Payments is so easy to use!

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One of our main motives in building this platform was to reduce the amount of pain dental practices experience when attempting to collect past-due balances from their patients. It’s estimated that more than $10 billion in invoiced dental care doesn’t get collected each year, meaning practices are providing a significant amount of needed treatment without compensation. This isn’t sustainable. This loss of revenue also impacts the quality and access of care that a provider can give. New equipment can’t be purchased. Services can’t be expanded. New staff can’t be hired.

Collecting more of what a practice is owed leads to healthier individuals, families, and communities, not to mention that these small businesses can continue to offer employment to their staff and needed dental care to their patients.

Schedule a demo to see Payments in action.

“People who’d been ignoring us for so long finally paid their bill.”

At Asheville Smile Center in Arden, North Carolina, Billing Coordinator Ashley Williams knows all about the struggle to collect. Here’s her description of that collection process before they began using Payments: “1. Post payment to the account, 2. Put information into a spreadsheet with notes, 3. Contact patient when payment is due by email or text, 4. Mail a statement, 5. Call to follow up, 6. If they called me back, it was usually to complain that they had never heard from us. In other words, this process was all over the map and very frustrating.”

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Managing all of this requires so much from team members. More importantly, even with all of this effort, as Ashley mentions, collecting payment is still not a sure thing. Our goal in developing Payments was to make paying a bill much easier for patients and also less time-consuming for team members. Patients love Payments because they can quickly and securely pay their bill on their phone. And team members love the solution because it’s easy to use, provides them with full transparency and robust reporting, and substantially reduces the amount of time between a payment request and collections – from months to minutes!

According to Ashley, “Payments has substantially altered our collections process. We still send out a few statements to some of our older patients, but otherwise, our entire process has changed. It’s so much easier and more effective!”

One of our favorite stories Ashley shared involved a patient who had an overdue invoice for $900 that was over two years old. “He had ignored every message I’d sent to him. When I sent him a text through Payments, he immediately made a payment and set up payments to pay off the balance. It was crazy! I wondered if he thought it was a collection agency or something. Regardless of the reason, people who’d been ignoring us for so long finally paid their bill.”

“It’s easier for the patient and the practice”

In summary, this is simple.

Payments was built to help you provide more and better dentistry to your patients. Your job is already very stressful and filled with no shortage of important tasks and responsibilities. Payments is especially helpful in situations where you may be short-staffed and wearing multiple hats. In short, it was built for moments exactly like right now. But don’t just take our word for it.

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“Overall, I love how easy Payments is to use,” Ashley shared. “You can jump right in and start engaging with patients in just a few minutes. You really can’t mess it up. It’s easier for the patient and the practice. I’ve tried a lot of different things, but none have done the trick like this. I love it!”

Ready to see for yourself how Dental Intelligence Payments can make life easier for you and your patients? Awesome! Schedule your free, no-commitment demo today and get back to loving your job again.