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Launching or buying a dental practice? Start here.

Woman paying using smart watch and Clover Flex

Whether you’re starting a new practice or acquiring an existing one, you’ll likely seek expertise from a range of professionals during the initial setup — think attorneys, accountants and lenders. From our experience, many practice owners wait to consider payment acceptance until the final stages which can result in hurried decisions or poorly integrated technology.

By making payment acceptance a central element in the planning process, you can take time to learn about available options and work with a merchant provider to find a solution that best fits the needs of your practice. Here are the main points to consider.

How patients want to pay

Your patients are accustomed to having a plethora of payment options in their day-to-day lives. For many, paying a bill online or using a digital wallet is becoming second nature. Others may value the ability to write a check or withdraw from their HSA. Allowing patients to use their preferred payment method provides a sense of assurance and contributes to their overall experience.

Similarly, consider the types of payments you want to accept now and in the future. Dentists we surveyed for our third annual Small Business Payments Spotlight said they expect to accept a larger mix of cards, and online and mobile payments in the next five years.

Do you plan to set up an eCommerce site? Do you want to take payments from the exam room or a mobile unit? If a patient writes a check for a $1,500 root canal, is that a transaction in which you’d want to warranty the check? Answering questions like these alongside a payments expert during the planning stages can help you select the right payment options for your practice and patients, and avoid the challenge of changing your point-of-sale (POS) system once your practice is up and running.

“Diversifying payment acceptance options for your practice, ranging from an online portal, recurring payments, or payments within an operatory is a win-win for your practice and your patients,” said Adam Cigich, vice president, inside sales leader at Bank of America Merchant Services. “It drives a positive patient experience and improves the predictability of your cash flow.”

Cash flow and available support

Many dentists experience tight cash flow due to factors like declining insurance reimbursement rates and the high overhead costs of running a practice. To help mitigate this issue, consider a merchant services provider that offers next-day funding.

Ask the bank that holds your business checking account if they have any recommendations or offers: with a Bank of America business account and merchant services from Bank of America Merchant Services, for example, you can expect funds from transactions to hit your account as soon as the next business day.¹

Your practice’s business hours could also impact the type of merchant services provider you choose. Most companies provide customer support during standard business hours. If you need to contact a specialist before 9 a.m., or on a Saturday, you may be forced to stop accepting payments and wait for assistance.

When researching merchant services providers, make sure customer support is available to you any time your practice is open. And check to see if its solutions can still operate if you lose power. Some leading POS systems are backed up on the cloud and will hold transactions while the power is out, then process them when your practice is back online.

“Diversifying payment acceptance options for your practice, ranging from
an online portal, recurring payments, or payments within an operatory
is a win-win for your practice and your patients.”

Business management tasks

Traditionally, a POS was strictly a means for businesses to get money in the door. Today, however, 60 percent of small business owners – including healthcare practices – are also using their POS for business management tasks like filing sales tax and inventory management.

To best determine what kind of solution will fit your practice, you need to consider the functionalities from which your practice will benefit. For example, dentists may want to choose business management capabilities like associate and patient scheduling or accounting software. Ensuring your POS integrates with your eCommerce site could be another benefit for your practice.

More than half of the dentists we surveyed agree that today’s patients have more say in the market because of online reviews.² Respondents also realize that patients can be choosier about the practices they decide to visit because there are more options available. With this research in mind, consider using a POS to manage your online reviews or help with marketing efforts. Leveraging additional functionalities that some POS systems offer can make it easier for you to run your practice.

Ultimately, the type of POS you pick needs to meet the needs (and even wants) of your patients and practice. Offering a variety of ways for patients to pay caters to their positive experience, and research shows more than half will be pleased to see a modern, sleek system.² Meanwhile, next-day funding and reliable customer support contributes to your experience as a practice owner. By planning for payment acceptance in the initial stages of setting up your practice, you’ll be more likely to find the right solution for your business.

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