Medenta’s Ruth Findlay shares her ultimate list of dos and don’ts when completing patient finance applications…
Some people believe completing a finance application can be a difficult and long-winded process – but that isn’t the case. You do need to pay attention to the details but, with the right checklist to hand, it’s a lot easier than you think. So, here is my list of dos and don’ts to make your patience finance application process smoother.
First off, the dos!
DO have the patient present when applying in practice – should you need to complete an application in practice, the patient/applicant must be present to complete it. This is a simple thing to remember, but it can be easy to fall into bad habits if the patient is in a rush.
DO make sure that all deposits taken from patients are properly accounted for – again, this sounds like something that would be second nature to any practice staff member; however, it can be something that sometimes slips through the net. Put a note in the patient’s file that shows that a deposit has been taken in practice, and state clearly on the application that a deposit has been accounted for, as it forms part of the patient’s credit agreement.
DO make sure patients have read and signed their treatment plans – before a patient moves forward, make sure they are happy with the application and happy with their treatment plan. Double check that the plan includes options, outcomes, risks, the fees and a description of the fees. Again, this sounds like an obvious task, but it is surprising how often it can be missed.
DO allow for the cooling-off period to elapse – once the treatment plan and finance agreement have been signed, the patient, and perhaps even the clinician, will be keen to start the treatment, which is understandable. Once a finance application has been accepted, a cooling-off period of 14 days should follow before any treatment starts, in line with the Consumer Credit Act. This cooling-off period allows the patient to withdraw from treatment or finance if they change their mind. Many practices will book treatment in for roughly 21 days following acceptance of the agreement to allow enough preparation time and for the Right to Withdraw period to elapse.
And now, things to be aware of – the don’ts
DON’T sign an application on behalf of a patient – often the relationship between the practice team and the patient can be a very trusting one, and it may lead to a case where the patient asks someone in the practice to sign the application on their behalf to speed up the process. This demonstrates a strong relationship between you and the patient but signing a treatment plan or credit agreement on someone’s behalf is illegal. It is something that happens more often with e-signatures and despite that strong bond between patient and practice, it should always be the patient who signs the treatment or finance plan.
DON’T process applications for family or friends – it can seem logical that close friends or family members will ask you to process their finance application for them; however, you shouldn’t personally handle their application. You might feel you want to help as you’re close to them; however, you must pass the enquiry on to the practice managero avoid any conflict of interest.
Much of the above may seem quite simple; however, things can be missed in a busy practice. Be aware that the tiniest inaccuracy can delay a finance application which can be frustrating for the patient and the practice. So, paying attention to the detail, along with these dos and don’ts, can make your process smoother and quicker.