With orthodontic care being such a large expense for families, it can be a struggle for patients to pay for treatment -- and for orthodontists like you to recover payments. Most health insurance plans don’t offer coverage for people over 18 years of age. Even plans that cover orthodontic treatment for children under 18 may only offer partial coverage -- leaving the family to pay for the rest of the treatment out of pocket.
It should come as no surprise then that, according to a 2015 Televox report, some of the biggest challenges orthodontists face include meeting patient demand for more convenient ways to pay and low recovery rates from A/R accounts. Here are some of the other most common payment processing challenges orthodontists face and how to solve them.
1. Offering a full range of treatment options
As you know, the cost of orthodontic care can vary greatly based on the patient’s needs and the type of braces. A child or adult might have their heart set on getting lingual braces, Invisalign, or ceramic braces but may be unable to afford the higher cost associated with these options.
They might not have the cash upfront to pay for it.
It’s difficult to give customers the braces they want when you don’t have the ability to offer financing. It’s easier to offer a full range of treatment options when your customers can be instantly approved for financing at the payment terminal, so they can pay for the cost of treatment over several months instead of upfront.
2. Chasing A/R payments
Most orthodontists offer some type of financing because orthodontics insurance doesn’t allow them to deal directly with insurance companies (and many patients aren’t covered anyway). As a result, patients are personally responsible for all payments. Orthodontic treatment is expensive and most orthodontists are committed to providing an affordable and convenient way for families to pay.
But, as we mentioned earlier, one of the top struggles they face is recovering payments during and after treatment.
While offering financing offers patients more convenience, it can come back to bite you if those customers don’t make their payments. It becomes a loss on your books.
How much are you losing because you’re offering your own financing? The better bet is to work with a third party, so you can lower your accounts receivable, get paid instantly, and let the financing company worry about recouping the payments. Finally, you can stop scrambling to collect dental payments, and focus on making your practice a success.
3. Meeting patient expectations
Most dental offices accept Interac, post-dated cheques, Visa, and Mastercard.
Interac has transaction limits.
Cheques can bounce.
Credit cards have pricey interest rates. Plus, not all of your patients will own credit cards.
What does this mean? Although you’ve tried your best to offer multiple payment options, your customers still don’t have the greatest choice.
Wouldn’t it be better to enable your patients to pay the way they wanted to?
Go beyond debit and credit, and offer the latest in tech that allows your patients to pay with their smartphones and other devices. After all, in today’s digital age, consumers expect the latest in payment processing, and it’s estimated that there will be 455.1 million mobile wallet users by the year 2020.
Offering alternative payment options like Alipay, WeChat Pay, and Apple Pay can help you keep customers happy, attract new, young patients, and differentiate your practice.
If you give families good choices, they’ll remember your practice at the end of the day and may return to you the next time a family member requires treatment.
4. Accepting online payments
The dental industry has been stagnant for decades. Ten years ago, it would have been unthinkable to pay for orthodontics online.
But times are changing, and the traditionally staid industry is being shaken up. Technology has changed the way patients expect to interact with their healthcare providers.
Today’s families are busier than ever before, and it can be difficult to find time to run errands and pay bills. Online orthodontics payments are more convenient, so they are often the go-to choice for consumers.
More orthodontics today are taking their products and services online and enabling online payments to stay ahead of the technological curve and meet evolving customer demands. It’s a good idea to consider taking your practice online and offering more convenient payment methods in an effort to avoid losing customers to a more tech-savvy competitor.
Plus, you’ll also benefit from instant payments. With online transactions, you don’t risk having a cheque bounce due to insufficient funds. The transaction is immediately confirmed, and you have access to the funds right away. Online payment portals also enable recurring payments, so customers can have money deducted from their accounts every month -- the ultimate in payment convenience.
Chargebacks -- those pesky transactions that customers dispute on their credit and debit cards -- are bad for business.
With more dental practices heading online, fraud and chargebacks are becoming more prominent issues in the industry. Small offices are especially vulnerable to fraud due to their insufficient payment processing knowledge.
Too many chargebacks can hamper your reputation, so it’s important to work with a knowledgeable and helpful payment processor that can help you resolve refunds and chargebacks, and maintain a good position with credit card companies. It can mean the difference between growing your online business and damaging it.
6. High processing fees
Of course, it’s every orthodontist’s dream to generate a profit while keeping costs low. After all, that’s the key to running a successful business. Unfortunately, there’s a cost to doing business, and in this case, it’s the high price of payment processing fees.
Processing fees vary widely, and some fees seem to go by mysterious and suspicious names, making it difficult for you to understand exactly what you’re paying for. Add to that the fact that the fees are based on a variety of factors, including business type, method of accepting payment, card type, average transaction size, and more, and it’s easy to become overwhelmed (and confused).
While there might be a cost to doing business, make sure you work with a provider who is happy to spend the time required to discuss how each fee works and why you’re paying it -- so you don’t overpay.
7. Lack of payment support
Payment processing has come a long way over the last several years. New security features, new designs, new technologies, and new models are constantly coming out. Payment terminals are getting better and better every day.
But that doesn’t mean transaction issues don’t crop up from time to time. The terminal might freeze on you or act up. When these types of concerns occur, it’s important to get troubleshooting assistance right away to ensure your business isn’t negatively affected for a long period of time.
Working with the right payment processor -- one that offers 24/7 customer support and a dedicated customer service team right in Canada -- can help ensure you get the payment support you need, when you need it most.
As you can see, orthodontists face many payment processing challenges. Some are relatively unique to the industry while others are more widespread.
Either way, these problems could be affecting your ability to accept payments quickly, securely, and in an affordable manner. It might be time to find a new payment solution for your practice, so you can skip the headaches and boost your profits.