This page is intended for personnel in the dental industry. Please be respectful in your comments.
|Posted on March 29, 2021 at 2:15 PM||comments ()|
Dental Assistant Part 5: Your Secret Weapon for Positive Perception
edited by Kevin Wilson
Universal Adapter and Unsung Hero
The dental assistant is arguably the ‘go-to gal’ (or guy!) for the majority of things that need to be prepared before, or handled during the patient office visit. Need an X-ray? A room cleaned? Problem solved? The dentist, dental hygienists, and office staff all have very specific roles to play; the assistant does everything else. While this might seem intuitive given that the word ‘assistant’ is in the job title, the position is anything but simple, and depending on the practice there may be no task they aren’t somehow involved with.
Anyone who disagrees can look at the COVID-19 crisis. Perhaps no position among the dental office staff experienced as significant an escalation of their level of responsibility as the dental assistant. In addition to their usual duties—with elevated risk, and greater challenges every step of the way—the job of facilitating caregiver operations had a dozen more steps added to it. This is why there has been a shortage of qualified candidates, and a need for dentists and practice owners to make sure they hold on to good ones. Although the exact duties of the dental assistant vary from office to office, and even within a single practice setting, in the end, they need to be ready for anything. There is no aspect of patient care that they’re not somehow involved in, and nothing they won’t be called upon to help with.
Regardless of their duties, there are key qualities that assistants must bring to the table and continue to cultivate in any practice. Without a helper’s attitude, they will be sunk because there’s nothing worse than an assistant who can’t find something to do when the hygienist needed help five minutes ago and a room needs to be prepped for the next patient. Maintaining professional bearing while managing a wide variety of tasks takes experience, but this is an area that separates the wheat from the chaff, especially when the pace picks up—and the more duties they have, the more can go wrong if they implode. Thus, organizational skills are also a must; these can be trained through established routines and protocols. The quality of being detail-oriented was important before COVID-19, now it is absolutely essential.
Willingness to adapt to the personal styles of those they assist will make everyone’s life easier. For one thing, it’s their job—don’t make it harder for them than it has to be, but given the roles of caregiver and assistant, who has to adapt to whom should be abundantly clear. Not only does acceptance of this reality and a good professional attitude keep things moving in the right direction, it saves the assistant a lot of trouble because there’s no point feeling like a victim. Bear in mind, this is not an attempt to demean or lord over them as ‘lowly and unworthy,’ and every assistant should feel valued and respected at all times. This is more about individual character, knowing and accepting one’s role, and being realistic about expectations each impacting the quality of their work life. Every dentist wants a little something different from the chairside assistant, each assistant has their own strengths and quirks, but to the patient, they should look like a well-oiled machine.
While the dental assistant’s relationship with patients may not be as deep as those of other caregivers in the office, it is both unique and essential, so a personable disposition is probably the most valuable attribute of a good assistant. On the surface level, they may be the friendly face that transitions patients from the waiting room to the treatment room. Their demeanor sets the tone; considering the reputation of dental patients as being more fearful and less compliant than those of other specialties, this can make or break an office visit. Their sensitivity to the patient's needs and mood can give a helpful heads-up to whoever follows them—this will come in handy regularly.
Moreover, because the assistant isn’t necessarily seen as a caregiver the way hygienists and dentists are, they present inherent neutrality and often play the role of patient confidant. They don’t need much social savvy to do this. Patients—especially nervous ones—will often open right up and share a previously unspoken need or fear. The quiet ones can be artfully revealed as well by an experienced or naturally empathic assistant. This bridges the gap between the caregivers and the patient when there are extenuating or embarrassing circumstances in play, which in the dental setting is quite common.
As such, nobody needs to believe in the skills of the caregivers in the practice more than the dental assistant. Their confidence and trust in the caregivers will establish the necessary atmosphere of professional poise and fluid teamwork during any procedure, and they’re the ones in the best position to influence the patient when nobody else is around. This allows them to reassure and encourage, which may improve the likelihood of treatment plan acceptance.
Making an assistant feel like the valued team member they should be is not difficult. Overall, the effort you put into crafting and maintaining a relationship-based practice will allow the dental assistant to be comfortable in a difficult, thankless job. While they may be viewed by some as the ‘fast food cashier’ of the dental industry, do not allow them to feel that way and do not pay them that way, either. Often, the most important aspects of this are regular verbal, as well as practical, measures that demonstrate gratitude for the essential role they play. Thoughtful gestures and timely, honest words can go a long way. There is no substitute for giving proper respect to the people who take care of you, who make it possible for you to focus on your work by doing everything else.
This article is the fifth in a series covering aspects to harnessing the unique and powerful potential in developing a relationship-oriented dental practice. The next few articles will continue to delve more deeply into each of the different staff positions within the practice, followed by articles oriented toward surmounting the challenges that practices face building and maintaining relationships that help your practice thrive.
The next article will provide perspective on the true backbone of every thriving dental practice, the dental hygienist.
Exploring Dental Office Technology, part 1: Buying for Efficiency and Profit vs Luxury and Convenience edited by Kevin Wilson
|Posted on March 10, 2021 at 12:55 AM||comments ()|
Exploring Dental Office Technology, part 1: Buying for Efficiency and Profit vs Luxury and Convenience
edited by Kevin Wilson
The role of technology in business is deeper and more crucial than ever. Whether it's your communications, web and social media presence, payment options, records keeping and practice management platforms, or just the latest clinical treatment technology, people expect you to have it. If you don't, it may cost you in more ways than one. Expectation and demand, while not synonymous, are closely related. At the same time, investing in technology can be very costly, so it is particularly important to identify if you are buying for efficiency and profit, versus luxury and convenience. Your expectations will be different in each scenario. When you buy for efficiency and profit, you expect some sort of return on investment (ROI). When you buy for luxury and convenience, you expect easier processes and better results, and must accept the expanse and potential cut into profits. Failure to discern your motivation can lead to disappointment.
As important as technology is, you don't need the 'latest and greatest’ of everything. That would be impractical and untrue; moreover, it is exhausting---emotionally and financially---to stay on top of the constant evolution. When deliberating on what technology to implement, the most important factors are either efficiency or direct profit, as both will help get your return on investment more predictably, versus purchasing for luxury and convenience. When adopting technology that requires financing, you need to perform a cost analysis using purchase price, current costs, and potential savings or added expense, and determine the hit to your profitability. Then, deliberate if this is feasible for your current financial situation. Accountants are amazing in that regard and can also determine tax deduction considerations as well.
Once adopted and mastered, technology expands your capabilities and saves time that can be converted to profit. If that is the case, then the technology is an indirect means to improving profitability. For example, if you implement automatic confirmations and re-care calls, the front office has more time to spend with patients and collect at the time of service or call patients to fill openings. Both tasks directly impact the bottom line. Chose technology that is intended to allow conversion and replacement of current processes to increase profitability. Embracing as much technology as is feasible will keep you at the top of your game providing efficiency or direct profit and, in the end, making life easier for patients and staff. Make sure that once the technology is implemented, you ensure that the time savings is allocated, otherwise you can miss out on the profitability part. For example, if your team does not use the freed-up time effectively, you may create cell phone social media monsters or Google surfers.
Be careful of expensive convenient and luxury purchases; remember that a typical dental practice offers a limited variety of services. Sales representatives are highly trained to deliver a 5-minute elevator speech created by psychology experts intended for the close of a sale. A great example of this is the YAG/CO2 laser. The monthly service fee elevates your monthly expenses by a minimum of $2500. Insurance reimbursement may be excluded when the device’s use is viewed as a bundled service. Surgical procedures performed with the laser are typically not frequent enough so you won’t break even, yet the reps provide ROI tables and sheets with ADA codes. Even the diode laser is more of a luxury and convenience. When used for perio management, insurances labeled the laser as an adjunct to typical ADA codes, preventing the provider from charging the patient. Gingivectomies are most helpful in crown and bridge procedures and clinically must be done on the same day as the preparation, but again are not covered when done on the same day by insurances. Frenectomies, crown lengthening, cold sore treatments, and sensitivity treatment of dentin are not performed frequently enough to break even with the monthly payment. So in the end, you’re purchasing the laser more for convenience of hemostasis during crown and bridge and increased success in the perio treatment, rather than true direct reimbursement as stated by the sales reps.
The mental and financial strain of adopting and integrating new technology into day-to-day operations is also an issue and is different for everyone. Age often plays a role. A new-to-practice dentist will likely have more exposure to technology in daily life and fewer mental obstacles to accepting and embracing the ever-changing role of technology in the practice. If you’re ten years from retirement, however, you may have a tougher time dealing with new technology. If this is the case, reliable and trustworthy office staff can keep your practice where it needs to be.
Regardless, some level of technological integration will keep the office from seeming old-fashioned, and this is probably less of an issue with a long-established practice but still matters. The availability of leading-edge treatment options will allow you to provide the best care, though this isn’t practical for everyone and may not make much impact in your market—an issue of luxury/convenience versus efficiency and profitability.
Patients will, however, expect you to have some variety of payment options available, and while you can’t use/take everything---there’s always a new payment app everyone says is great---making payment convenient and accessible prevents patient headaches and helps maintain the revenue stream. A great example of this is Weave. For a low monthly service fee, you can text patient bills and allow payment digitally from phones or workstations, saving you time as well as postage. The system also has a complete patient communication feature, managing appointment confirmations and overdue re-care lists automatically with text and email reminders. The newest, most powerful feature is Google reviews after appointments which will bring your Google ranking organically higher than your paid competitors. For these reasons, Weave is a directly profitable technology as well as a huge improvement in time efficiency.
Electronic communications are more and more essential every day. Reliance on email is environmentally friendly and saves a lot of money on postage as well as time. Many patients can be reached with the click of a mouse button, and the role of what we now call ‘snail mail’ is constantly diminishing. In the office, workstations and messaging apps allow quick communications without leaving one’s desk. Blue Note communication creates pop-up messages on each workstation in the office or sends notifications to a specific provider or room for discreet, non-verbal communication among team members.
Individual tablets allow staff to make changes to records and implement protocols for billing and insurance with the tap of a touchscreen. Studies report that scanning in the workforce takes up 50% of employee time digitizing, scanning, and chasing documents with calls and follow-ups. Most dental software has digital form modules that can be added for a monthly service fee. Tablets allow for the immediate saving of documents. Electronic forms that improve document management make it an efficient technology. This ensures the accurate and complete record of needed signatures and forms for patient records compliance.
For a long time, the Internet was not exactly essential but there’s no staying away from it now. While it may not be necessary to maintain a heavy social media presence, many patients, or prospective patients, will want to use your website. Learning how to manage your online and social media presence, even at a basic level, will provide insight into what people might see when they look for your practice on the web. Some businesses don’t maintain a complicated website, allowing a social media page to serve the same function. And you’ll definitely be rated online, which can be a problem if you become a victim of an unreasonably irate patient or ‘troll’ (someone looking to cause trouble for no particular reason). Handling potentially harmful unfair reviews online will maximize your online reputation, or at least keep it from being a hindrance. Studies show that 20% of the population is basically never happy and you will never please them. Businesses that have real reviews will contain some bad reviews. Sites that do not have bad reviews are most likely doctored and censored. The public knows this, so do not worry about having a few bad reviews. However, be guarded if bad reviews surpass 20% of your overall reviews—or if negative reviews continuously mention the same issue. This will tell you more about the changes you need to make in your practice, as the public has spoken. Again, don’t panic, just listen to your audience and make necessary changes.
Office staff will quickly adapt to technology when it makes their jobs easier. It is common these days for every staff member to have tablet technology for every conceivable application, but if not, workstations are prevalent and paper is virtually nonexistent. Practice management software is old news, but the use of technology to document care for planning (digital chart and notes certainly isn’t, especially as dental insurance becomes more a part of life. In fact, in 2014 dentistry was mandated to go digital for EMR (electronic medical records). The internet is needed to access websites, online portals for insurance-related matters, for benefits verifications, and to obtain EFT (electronic funds transfer) records to enter the insurance checks breakdown. Other useful technologies include dedicated phones with good cameras for taking high-resolution clinical pictures, which can be used for social media and clinical documentation. You may want to utilize Dropbox for Business, a HIPAA-compliant online file storage platform, to easily store patient images for uploading to social media (with the patient's consent). In addition, there are patient stations in-office for convenience (kiosks) to streamline the check-in process. Voice over internet (VOI) service and phones allow for voice recording of conversations, message on hold, logging of missed calls, and reporting of metrics such as call time trends, providing improved functionality at a savings over typical business phone service. Freedom Voice is a great VOI service and quite reasonable, if not less than typical business phone service. Several of these are meant for convenience and luxury and you may choose to hold off on those at first.
There are seemingly endless ways in which technology can make practice life and management easier. Bear in mind that having tremendous technological capability doesn’t change the fact that a human being can only take in and manage so much, and that technology doesn’t make patients, or employees, happy. Embrace technology as long as it works for you and your practice—plan and set goals based on need, profitability, and expense.
|Posted on March 12, 2018 at 8:35 PM||comments ()|
|Posted on March 12, 2018 at 8:30 PM||comments ()|
|Posted on August 21, 2017 at 2:10 PM||comments ()|
Electronic claim submission is amazing and provides a tracking mechanism for claim submission. However, many insurances are still non participating in the electronic payer process. In fact, it probably works to their benefit to keep it that way so they can delay claim payment.
The most frustrating aspect of dental billing is the "claim not on file" claim status. We work diligently to send clean claims and when the claim is unresolved for over 30 days, we call the insurance company to find out why the claim has not paid. It is the most annoying answer that our specialists hear from the insurance reps-"Your claim is not on file".
What do we do then? This often happens with claims that are mailed due to the insurance being a non electronic payer. The mailed claim is always "lost" somehow. The first thing that needs to be done is the patient's demographics and the office demographics must be verified with what insurance has on file with the subscriber and the provider. Request the claim be faxed to a supervisor. Do not hang up until the fax is received or you get a supervisor's contact information. If supporting documentation is necessary especially xrays, the fax will not work since the xrays are non diagnostic off of a fax transmission. But that is ok, first get the claim on file via fax, to avoid timely filing issues, then you can follow up in a few days and submit the supporting documentation via mail certified mail to the supervisor.
|Posted on April 25, 2017 at 10:50 AM||comments ()|
Medical & Dental Billing News
BENEFITS VERIFICATION TIP
For insurances that have a long wait on hold to speak to a representative, try calling the patient line instead of the provider line. Then, ask to be transfered to the provider extension. Your wait should be significantly decreased. Also, find out what the hours are for provider line and patient line. We have found that the patient line is opened 1 hour earlier than the provider line, giving you the opportunity to get right to a representative.
SUGGESTION WITH DUAL INSURANCE
For patients with dual insurance, in a situation where there is a dental rider on a primary medical plan, you can submit to both, primary and secondary, on the same day. This is because the secondary dental insurance has the allowance table of the primary insurance and can configure what the dental rider on the medical plan will pay. Sending both claims at the same time will decrease your time waiting for both payments. Normally, you have to wait for the primary EOB and send it in with the secondary insurance claim. In this situation, the secondary insurance does not need to see the primary EOB because they can estimate what the primary will pay. Therefore, the secondary insurance proceeds to process the claim without the primary insurance EOB.
CORRECTED CLAIM RESUBMISSION
Pearl of the day: When submitting corrected claims for procedures, make sure to put the original claim # on the corrected claim so it is not reprocessed as a duplicate. If the insurance determines a claim to be a duplicate, and does not recognize that it is a corrected claim, they pay nothing and do nothing. Therefore, all efforts, requested additional submitted information, is ignored, delaying payment. It is the insurance companie's tactic to delay payment. Ask how we know.
CRUCIAL PATIENT DEMOGRAPHICS
When asking for patient's name, make sure to ask the patient how their name is filed with the insurance company. If claim is ANY DIFFERENT i.e. how it is spelled or hyphenated they will not process the claim. Has to be exact.
BILLING XRAY-S AND FREQUENCIES
When taking a Pano and Bitewings on same day --- Insurance may give you the most comprehensive benefit applied. Which means they will give an alternate benefit of a FMX which has bitewings included. Therefore if the patient has reached their frequency on FMX limit - both the pano and the bitewings won’t be covered.
If the bitewings where submitted to insurance by themselves then they would be covered if eligible.
So if you submit to insurance a panoramic x-ray any other combination of x-rays, an alternate benefit may be given and could possibly be given the most comprehensive benefit (FMX) and no benefit will be paid, depending if the patient has reached their frequency limit on the FMX.
MEDICAID REQUEST MILLIONS FROM PROVIDERS
February 2017, Medicaid sent out letters to providers across the nation requesting refunds of money paid to billing companies that charge a % of collection for their services. Medicaid has determined that paying a % of collections is illegal fee-splitting. They are also charging 9% interest. Dental Claims Cleanup has always charged flat rate monthly fees for our services. READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE located on our home page under pricing.
|Posted on April 25, 2017 at 10:45 AM||comments ()|
As the landscape of the Dental Industry changes, and we engage in increased insurance contracts, it is difficult for providers to repeat the credentialing process annually and remember the dates to re-credential. As a result, many providers found themselves receiving an out-of-network status notification and were dropped by the insurance. Recently, Delta Dental did a nationwide sweep of dropping providers and sending out-of-network status notices. This can be a devastating and costly mistake to the practice. When this happens, the insurance payments start going to the patient and the patients owe more money for treatment, therefore start leaving your office. You can outsource the credentialing process if
1. you want to ensure that you are in good in-network status, and
2. you would like to take the credentialing burden off of your team or yourself, or
3. you are hiring a new provider and need to enroll them in the insurances you are contracted with
4. you are interested in signing up for a new insurance, or
5. you purchased an office that you are not credentialed with the insurances the new office is in-network with
Our credentialing department uses specialized software that submits the information to the insurance companies in a professional, legible, accurate manner, ensuring the credentialing goes through fast without problems. The software communicates with the insurance companies to alert us when the re-credentialing process needs to be done. We specialize in RetroActive Re-credentialing. A most common credentialing issue is during practice transitions. The owner purchases a practice and the owner is not credentialed with the insurances the office is in-network with. Another scenario is when you hire an associate. The associate starts working but is not credentialed with the insurances. Insurances pay based on the in/out-of-network status of the Dentist provider that actually did the treatment. Therefore, if the associate is not credentialed, claims are paid to the owner, on an out-of-network status. Many owners enter themselves as the providers for the treatment performed (since they are credentialed in-network), but, as we know, that is illegal. Since the process takes up to 3 months, claims are paid on an out-of-network status. If your claims did not pay due to credentialing, we will appeal the case to push for a retroactive re-credentialing. We helped many clients with retroactive re-credentialing and re-submitted claims resulting in payment.
visit our website for more information: http://www.dentalclaimscleanup.com/credentialing-service
|Posted on December 10, 2016 at 8:10 AM||comments ()|
In response to the changes in the healthcare reimbursement plans, billing medical insurance for dental procedures is becoming a necessity. Currently, the dental industry may not be ready for billing medical insurances for dental procedures. Dental Claims Cleanup has been developing cross over systems and protocols to aid Dentists in the task of billing medical insurances for dental procedures. This article will review commonalities and differences in medical and dental billing, as well as, provide pointers in the medical billing process for dental procedures.
Medical and dental billing share the following:
Patient and insurance information has to be obtained, verified, and correctly set-up in the practice management system
Procedures must be coded and fees established
A claim form is submitted
Payment is received with and explanation of benefits (EOB) that needs to be broken down in the practice management system
claims need to be followed until payment is received and re-submission and appeals are performed until payment is reached
patient's portion must be collected after the insurance claim resolves or must be collected prior to the procedure (if an estimate of patient's portion is possible)
Differences between medical billing and dental billing:
Medical billing requires diagnostic codes to support medical necessity of procedure codes to be submitted with the claim; there is no requirement yet for diagnostic codes in dental billing, however, diagnostic reasons for dental procedures are provided upon request by the dental insurance, during narrative submission with claims, and during claim appeal process, and must be documented in the patient’s chart.
Insurance coverage depends on an exact match of plan coverage and diagnostic codes for procedure codes. Claim denial is more likely with medical claims, due to the requirements necessary for a "clean" claim submission, therefore, it is important to find out information requirements for certain procedures before the claim is submitted during the coverage verification process (pre-certification and re-authorization)
Sending "clean" claims in medical billing is crucial to obtaining coverage and payment. All information must be accurate including patient, provider, and insurance demographics, diagnostic codes and procedure codes, modifiers, narrative submission, etc.
Pre-certifications (“pre-certs”) for treatment are important prior to proceeding with treatment. Decisions are made, once pre-certs or denials are obtained, to submit to dental insurance instead. The patient can make a decision whether or not to proceed with treatment, based on the information received from the pre-certs. Other pertinent information is discovered during the pre-cert step that aid in claim submission and claim coverage based on the information disclosed in the pre-cert. The insurance company will determine whether the procedure needs to be pre-certified or pre-authorized. Pre-certifications establish that the procedure “may be” medically necessary and needs a review prior to payment. Pre-authorizations establish that the procedure will be covered, but the insurance company does not disclose any fees.
ADA codes for dental treatment encompass many procedures that are not coded, but are part of the fee (ex: lab materials, lab fee, temporary crown fabrication, visit for insert of the crown, x-ray when crown was seated etc.) Those parts of the treatment are included in one crown fee. In medical billing there is a service CPT (reports medical, surgical, & diagnostic procedures and services) or HCPCS code (products, supplies, & services not included in the CPT codes) for all the parts of treatment or a procedure which would add up to the analogous one fee in dental coding. The fee for medical treatment is obtained from coding all parts of the treatment. Dental billing bills for a “product” provided and this product has one fee that is coded. In medical billing, we bill for treatment of a “condition” provided (includes services performed based on time and complexity, products/devices, materials used and amounts, and diagnostics procedures, the procedure can be broken into technical service and professional service provided).
Medical claim submission has 90 days from day of service prior to expiration, while dental insurances allow up to 6 months, or even up to 1 year, for claim submission from date of service. Therefore, if medical insurance does not pay for the dental procedure, there is time to submit the claim to dental insurance. The claim can not ethically be submitted simultaneously to dental and medical insurance. If you submit $500 to medical for a procedure, that gets denied, you have to submit $500 to dental insurance for the same procedure. This is why, the price for the procedure, billed to dental or medical, has to be the same. Several medical codes (which will include services, products/devices, materials, and diagnostic procedures) may need to be used for the analogous ADA code, but the price for the treatment should be the same. Many ADA codes include procedures that in medical coding are billed separately. Ex: x-rays in dental billing include the diagnosis and reporting while x-rays in medical can be billed as service fee (technical component) and the reporting fee (professional component) with a modifier 26.
Narratives/letters to support medical necessity are crucial to obtain medical claim coverage; in dental billing, letters of medical necessity are only necessary for ADA codes that ask for narratives by report or during the appeal process, or as a follow-up to referring provider.
Medical reimbursement for exams/office visits/consultations depends on time spent with the patient encounters, complexity of the encounter/exam, and reimburses for each encounter for previously diagnosed condition, in dental follow-up visits and visits for previously diagnosed condition are considered part of the dental procedure.
Medical insurance does not provide fees for treatment during the benefits verification process, or pre-certification process, but rather, informs if treatment is eligible for medical billing after claim examiner review. Pre-authorization will tell you it will be covered by the plan but the insurance company will not disclose the fees. The reimbursement depends on the medical plan’s reimbursement schedule, covered benefit, and if it is a medically billable procedure. It is not possible to do a sound pre-estimate and figure out the patient’s responsibility for the treatment, therefore, the provider must decide what will be collected at time of service. If the medical insurance reports that the services will be covered (pre-authorized) and can be submitted, a minimum of 1/3 should be collected from the patient, as a down payment, at the time of service. Some medical insurances are known to take a long time to pay out. Providers might consider to collect the total amount, from the patient, at time of service, and the insurance payment is sent to the patient directly.
Most of the time, medical insurance has a higher reimbursement for dental services than dental insurance resulting in a lower patient balance. This is because several parts of one dental code are billable to medical. Payment for several more codes results in a total higher insurance reimbursement. In addition, there are no clear provisions or history for payments on dental procedures, therefore, often times the medical insurance pays well on those codes.
Dental insurance allows to charge out indirect procedures, involving a laboratory, on the day of impressions, while indirect procedures can only be billed out to medical insurance on the day of the insert.
1. How to get started? The Dentist must decide which procedures that they perform will be eligible for medical billing.
1. traumatic injury
2. inflammation or infection
3. surgery required
4. diagnosing/diagnosed medical condition
5. suffering from loss of function
6. referral from medical Doctor
2. The Dentist has to make a medical connection based on the medical history to the dental treatment that needs to be provided. A letter of medical necessity needs to be written and submitted with the claim.
3. Next, we suggest the Dentist runs a report of those medically-billable procedures, that were already treatment-planned, form the practice management software. Call the patients and obtain their medical insurance information. Inform the patient that you will attempt to check with their medical insurance for assistance with this treatment. Only when there is pre-certification, pre-authorization, the patient is scheduled. When calling the patient to schedule, make sure that at least 1/3 of the fee is discussed to be collected at time of service towards the treatment for pre-authorizations. Also, discuss the full fee for the treatment, for pre-cetifications, in the event that medical insurance does not pay at all. Have a back-up plan to submit to dental insurance and quote the patient the dental insurance breakdown based on dental insurance coverage history.
If you need help implementing medical billing in your office, please give us a call. Dental Claims Cleanup will setup your medical billing program including your medical billing software, worksheets, and train your team for $500 one time fee. Phone support service of $100/month is available. If you are interested in completely outsourcing medical billing with us, we charge a flat fee of $500/month for up to 50 claims and $10 each additional claim. Please visit our website for more information www.dentalclaimscleanup.com
|Posted on December 10, 2016 at 8:10 AM||comments ()|
The health and wealth of a dental practice is highly dependent on accurate, efficient, and consistent dental billing. With the changing landscape of the Dental Industry, increased dependence on dental insurance, the increased debt of the young Dentists, and the gobbling up of practices by Dental Service Organizations, the private practice needs help. There is a reason why DSOs are so successful. It is because they provide a solution to the dental business management and the dental billing headache. However, not all of us private practice practitioners want to be a DSO Dentist. So what can we do in this changing Industry that will solve the headache of administration but not change our practice philosophy. Did you know that outsourcing dental billing is available to practices, without the ties of a DSOs? Dental Claims Cleanup has solved this dental billing problem with our services and we provide an alternative to a DSOs.
Here is what happens. When the office losses an employee to disability, medical leave or pregnancy leave, or does not have the manpower to plow through the dental billing workload, or if the team is lacking skills, or the Dentist does not have the ability to supervise the dental billing and accounting, the Dentist is left vulnerable. They are at the mercy of local talent to hire, train, and hope that the new employee will honest, self-motivated, and skilled to run the financial aspect of the practice. After a few hires and fires, and a progression into increased accounts receivable, the Dentist realizes that business management and dental billing is a huge headache and they start investigating options. The first one that comes to mind is partnering with a DSO. All of us are getting notices from Heartland, Aspen, and Pacific. They are successful organizations and employ many happy Dentists. The offers are very tempting, but we went into private practice for a reason, right? So if we don't want to sell the practice, don't want to partner with DSO, and do not want to pay for consultants, what options do we have?
What if you can keep all as is, but outsource the part that is a keeps you up at night?
What if, instead of you paying and supervising the employee performing the job, someone else will have that headache?
What if, instead of you paying the employee benefits, you get bothered about raises and time-off, someone else will deal with that burden for similar or lesser price?
What if you had all the help you need to take the headache away, without changing your practice philosophy or have any ties to other business organizations?
What if, in exchange, you and your team has more quality time with your patients and has more time to focus on the schedule and treatment acceptance?
HOW DO YOU SCORE?
Answer these questions to see how effective is your office in dental billing and business administration:
1. Claims Management (claim submission, claim follow-up, claim correction) is a job that needs to be performed every day.
a) Are your claims submitted at the end of every business day?
b) Does your team have at least 2 solid hours to follow-up on unresolved claims per day?
2. Account Receivable volume aging over 30 days: AR reports need to be run weekly. Industry standard is no more than $5,000 in over 30 days total unresolved claims and $3,000 in unpaid patient balances over 30 days for every 80,000 of monthly production. Carve out 1 hour per week to meet with the person doing your dental billing. Your team should have reports for you: a) status on ALL unresolved claims over 30 days, b) amount of unresolved claims over 30 days, c) amount of unpaid patient balances over 30 days. Keep the reports from week to week. Expect insurance payments in 3 weeks. Expect patient payments in 1 month.
a) Is your total accounts receivable over 30 days less than $10,000 for every $80,000 gross production?
3. Patient Balances: Patient co-pays MUST be collected at time of service or NO service is performed
a) Does your team collect the patient’s portion at time of service?
b) Are your total overdue patients’ balances, over 30 days, less than $10,000?
4. Insurance Verification is done 3 days prior for ALL hygiene patients. All new patients and emergency patients are verified and setup as they make the appointments. Use a benefits verification sheet to obtain plan specific clauses that match your frequent procedures. Correct plan setup is a must and the team should be trained in this area. Use an eletronic verification service that, with a click of a button, verifies patients from the schedule. It will not necessarily tell you plan breakdown, but it will tell you they have active coverage.
a) Does your team perform benefits verifications and draft treatment estimates based on verifications so they can collect the correct amount at time of service?
5. Accounting: When EOBs are entered and there is a remaining balance, call the patient after you enter the insurance check payment, and ask to resolve the balance over the phone with a credit card. If you do not reach the patient send a statement. Statements should be going out daily and at least once per week.
a) Does your office enter ALL the EOBs and ETFs, for that day, same day?
b) Does your office send statements at least once per week?
6. Financial Agreements and Treatment Estimates: Sound financial agreements must be drafted, signed by patients, and retained so that clear patient responsibility that was discussed prior to procedure is documented. The amounts to be collected, at time of service, should be reviewed with the team in the morning huddle and reviewed the following day to make sure it was actually collected. Review with the team reasons why the money was not collected. This accountability help keep employees motivated to collect at itme of service.
a) Do all of your patients, regardless of amount, have a signed financial agreement, and are they clear what their portion is at time of service?
7. Hygiene Reactivation: A full hygiene schedule ensures a full doctor’s schedule. Hygiene reactivation is a daily task. The goal is to call at least 30 patients per day, speak to at least 4, and schedule at least 4 for a single provider operation. The schedule is dynamic and must be worked every day to fill last minute openings. Unfilled appointments is money that can never be recovered.
a) Does your team work on hygiene reactivation daily?
b) Does your team track their efforts?
c) Does your team fill last minute openings successfully?
YOUR SCORE-write the number of “Yes”
#YES_________/12 x 100%=_______%
10-50% Need Help: systems not in place or lack of knowledge or man power
50%-60% Lack of Supervision or Consistency: make sure there is clearly defined system for the team to follow and get involved by reviewing reports and set accountability
60-75% Average: systems are most likely in place, motivated team, most likely time management is an issue, re-define tasks and schedule time for execution
75-85% Above Average: focus on the task the team is not executing, find out why, or define the system and expectations
85-100% Healthy Practices: owner/manager supervising and holding team accountable, reviewing weekly reports and resolving problems as they arise
Today, the entire dental billing position, and other business tasks like hygiene reactivation, can be outsourced.
Dental Claims Cleanup provides the dental billing services via a remote, HIPPA secure access connection to the dental office workstation. We seamlessly work in the background without disrupting the clinical operations. We provide the clinical team more quality time for patient care. We work with all dental practice management softwares. Our services include:
1. daily claims submission, unresolved claims research, follow-up and claim correction and re-submission with narratives or start of an appeal process
2. patient balances research, statements, phone calls to collect the balances
3. EOB, ETF entry in the dental software
4. benefits verification eligibility, full plan breakdown for new patients, emergency patients, existing patients with insurance changes, and new insurance account setup or correction as needed
5. medical billing for dental procedures
6. hygiene reactivation program: we manage all your unscheduled recalls and fill your schedule.
Dental Claims Cleanup works the accounts efficiently, producing results, and we do this for a fraction of the cost of an employees with benefits, raises, payroll taxes, and time off. We report weekly on our progress and we are the watchdog of the practice’s health and wealth. Our weekly reports inform the Dentist of trends and team’s productivity so the Dentist can make informed business decisions. We provide the resources without compromising your practice. The medical industry has been outsourcing medical billing for years because they understand that it is cost effective, efficient, and more productive. Now we have the same service available to the Dental Industry.
|Posted on December 10, 2016 at 8:10 AM||comments ()|
Believe it or not, Doctors, it is not you. It is your front office person/team. These are the magic people who project the image of your office to new and existing patients. These are the people who can make or break your practice without you even knowing. This team needs to have above average abilities in communication, with your patients, vendors, clinical staff, and of course, you.
Anyone can answer a phone, but it is difficult to find someone who will represent you and your practice in the best light. How do you want others to see your practice; Guarded by a fierce dragon who they have to bypass to get to the treasure (your amazing dental skill), or directed by a welcoming guide who will be able to take them from start to finish with the smoothest experience possible? I choose option two.
Before hiring just anyone to “answer the phone”, think about your experience with customer service in your life. What are the best experiences you’ve had, or the worst experiences, and why. The best experience will help in finding someone who can offer that same great feeling to your patients. The bad experience will remind you what traits you want to steer away from.
Once you find that perfect person, be sure they are fully trained before releasing them into your practice. A lot of damage can be done in a short period of time by someone who thinks they know more than they do. Be sure they have the tools needed to complete their job effectively; forms to gather the correct information from new and existing patients, or insurance companies, and where and how to use this information in your dental software and within the office. Have them SMILE when answering the phone, and for the duration of the call. Make sure they welcome each and every patient like family, on the phone or in person, because these patients are your family. If done right, you can retain your patients for years, seeing them through all phases of their lives.
With the proper person representing your office, your day will be smoother, your team will be happier, and your patients will not hesitate to return. Your practice can and will grow at a steady rate, and your patient retention will be off the charts. Too many dentists spend thousands in marketing to new patients, while the patient retention is what needs to improve in their practices. Internal operations must be reviewed to see where the gaps are.
Top 10 Reasons the Front Office Creates Happy Patients
1. Answer the phone by 3rd Ring: New patients get annoyed when they call an office and no-one answers the phone or it rings and rings. The result is that the new patient hangs up and calls the next office in line. It is imperative that the front office answers the phone SMILING and by the 3rd ring.
2. Greeting on arrival: There is nothing more disrespectful than when a patient enters the office and the front desk has her head down with her nose in papers not acknowledging the patient. The elephant is in the room and everyone knows that the front desk saw and heard the patient walk in. Without excuses, the front desk MUST look up and great the patient. Rudeness in inexcusable and will leave a negative impression on patients.
3. Don’t be all business: Very often the front office is overwhelmed with the daily tasks, and tries to rush patients through their experience and interaction with the front office. Friendliness and a few minutes of pleasant conversation is necessary to keep patients feeling like they are welcome and not an interruption. Spend a few minutes with each patient and make small talk before you throw a financial agreement in front of them or ask them to pay for today’s visit. People hate paying for rudeness and will find another office that they feel welcome spending their money with.
4. Keep Smiling: A smile says a thousand words. Here is what a smile will tell your patients: I am happy with my job. My boss is good to me. I love working here. My teammates are amazing. My doctor is awesome. I am a friendly person, come talk to me. A frown or seriousness has just the opposite effect and poorly represents the operation.
5. Be Helpful: Think to yourself how you can elevate your patient’s experience at the office. Offer yourself to help patients. If they can’t fill out a form, ask to help. If they don’t understand something, clarify it. If they need to make special arrangements, whether it is scheduling or financial, be understanding, but be professional. Do not take things personally, or be sensitive to patient’s objection, since most of the time it has nothing to do with you personally.
6. Negative Attitude: Get rid of a negative attitude. It usually takes much more effort to be grumpy all day and complain than to roll with the punches and be happy-go-lucky. Negative attitude breeds resentment and leaves a negative impression with patients.
7. Follow-up: There is nothing more annoying than to be promised to be contacted and the calls never comes. We recommend that the practice creates a “follow-up” column in their appointment book. That column serves for appointing patients to be called and followed-up on, and for messages reminders about patient contacts. Anyone that leaves the office without an appointment, or tells you to call them, is scheduled in this follow-up column. On the day of that appointment, the front office is reminded to clear their messages from the follow-up column by contacting all the patients.
8. Systematic approach: Do things the same way if it works. Provide the same positive, welcoming, friendly, experience to all patients. This is important when patients refer other patients for the great experience. There is nothing worse than a patient awaiting a certain experience that was told to them by the referring patient and finds themselves to be disappointed. At the same time, if you are providing a consistent negative experience, it will kill the practice.
9. Brag on The Office: It takes years to gain patient’s trust and build a long lasting relationship. But there is one thing that will accelerate this process. The team MUST believe in the office philosophy, the Doctor’s skills, and be happy at their work place. There is nothing more powerful than a testimonial from the front office about the Doctor’s skills or the team’s professionalism. Confidence in the practice can be facilitated by the front office communication with the patients about positive differences between other offices and your practice. The patient wants to be reassured they have chosen well and have come to the right place for their care.
10. Love Your Job: It amazes me how many people stay in a position they are not happy working every day. If the front desk employee does not like her position, it will shine right through and leave a negative, long lasting impression. There are many jobs out there, so if you do not enjoy a front office position, I say “Move on”. At the same time, when an employee loves what they do, they do it with pride, enthusiasm, and charisma. They create a positive experience for patients, and keep patients coming back. Those employees are true keepers and are the most valuable asset to your dental office.
If the 10 items are not followed, by the time the patient is seen by the Doctor, they already have had a negative experience and are in a bad mood. The Doctor then tells the patient more bad news, that they need dental treatment. Most people are afraid of getting dental work done, so a bad experience with bad news throws them over the edge, and the result is lack of treatment plan acceptance. Furthermore, the patient usually decides to just stay away from dentistry all together, or leaves the practice to look for another provider. Remember that patients have a choice of Dentists. Give your patients a reason to return, otherwise the patient will chose to spend their money on dental treatment at a friendly office where they feel welcome and are treated well.
In closing, when you hire, hire for personality and train the skills.
|Posted on December 10, 2016 at 8:05 AM||comments ()|
Cash flow is a problem in many dental offices today.
There are several reasons for decreased cash flow. For instance, insurance payments are delayed, insurance claims are backlogged for submission, and claims need corrections and follow-up—but there is lack of manpower or time to do it.
The dental industry is becoming dependent on insurance reimbursements and affected by insurance tactics to slow down payments, such as “loss” of sent claims, plan-specific clauses and denials, demands on high detail for claim approval, and requests for submissions of supporting documentation. In addition, the overall reimbursement from insurances is decreasing as reimbursement fees are cut down, codes are downgraded, creative plans are sold to employers that result in lower insurance reimbursement and higher patient’s co-pay. As the patient’s portion increases, the treatment plan acceptance decreases and production can also decrease. As production decreases, obviously collection decreases resulting in decreased cash flow.
Another issue is the employees. Many of our colleagues find themselves at the mercy of their teams to run business operations while the dentist works on patients. If protocols are not consistently followed, if there are no established billing systems or if there is limited skill and knowledge, the business cash flow will decline. As a result, capital is tied up and there is reduced cash flow for operations.
Potential Cash Flow Solutions
Up until now, dentists had three solutions to improve their cash flow:
1. Borrow money
2. Improve billing efficiency
3. Increase volume production
Borrowing money is not easy, because not too many companies give out unsecured loans. Bankers Healthcare Group (BHG) is one of the only companies dedicated to providing hassle-free, unsecured loans for that purpose within three days. The only downside is that the cash loan is a temporary fix for the true underlying problem with the dental billing.
Dental Claims Cleanup has helped many offices get back on their feet by fixing their dental billing. We either take over the billing completely, or we recover the cash, setup systems and hand it back to the office.
Unfortunately, it takes a few weeks to get a response from insurances and get payments. This is because the insurance companies have up to 30 days to respond to corrected claims.
What we have found is that there are many dentists that still need immediate cash to pay for operations or catch up with due bills. Recognizing this issue, we recently partnered with BHG to help dentists obtain cash fast. Our joint venture program provides the dentist with operational cash and payment for our services that can be financed over time while we fix the business operations; specifically, improve the cash flow due to unresolved dental claims and unpaid patient balances. We are very proud of this program because together we now provide a complete solution. Through our partnership, BHG agreed to provide unsecured loans to Dentists, even higher risk providers, based on Dental Claims Cleanup’s historical performance and guarantee to collect tied up capital.
Know Your Numbers
We encourage you to run your aging reports and see how much money is tied up in insurance claims and how much money is unpaid in patients’ balances over 30 days aging. There should be no more than $5,000 to $10,000 in accounts receivable over 30 days for every $80,000 of net production.
If your accounts receivable exceeds the limits, it will take manpower and skill to recover these funds before the claims are expired (due to timely filing) or the patient’s balance is aged over 120 days and difficult to recover.
We have selected BHG as a partner because of their excellence in customer service, their attentiveness, and because they truly care about their clients. Independently, they provide the necessary finances to temporarily allow business operations to continue.
Together, we provide you cash and we fix the business operations to improve the long-term health and wealth of the business. Our joint cash flow solution program provides operating cash, as well as, financing for our billing services at a comfortable monthly rate hassle free. Please call us with any questions or use the application links from our website.
|Posted on December 10, 2016 at 8:00 AM||comments ()|
Solution to Decreasing Taxes this Year
December is the month that we need to run our profit and loss statements and evaluate the projected income on which we will be paying taxes. The year CANNOT end without meeting and planning with your accountant and your financial advisor. In fact, the meeting should take place mid-year (June, July) and year-end. Before you prepare to pay up, there are several tax laws that allow you to decrease your taxes if you invest in our country’s economy by spending some money. We all have our wish list of technologies that we have been eyeing at dental shows or that our colleagues brag they use. Maybe you want to improve your facility like a buildout, repairs, or updates. In addition, there are things you can do with your investments that will also reduce your taxes or prevent you from paying more than you need to.
We ALL want to pay less in taxes! What can we do? Below are laws that we can take advantage of to decrease our taxes, if we spend some money. And you do not need to fund it in cash. However, the equipment must be in service by December 31 to get the tax advantages. We hear from our colleagues about creative strategies for reducing taxes. Well, this comes from working with knowledgeable professionals that understand the dental business. If these ideas came a little late this year, you can definitely plan for it in 2017!
You can go ahead and pay Uncle Sam or just finally get the equipment that you have always wanted or put in place investments strategies that create you wealth while you save on taxes. You can finance the amount and pay as you go but reap the benefits of tax deductions. Sometimes it may be hard to get quick hassle-free loans from major banks, so you should look at Bankers Healthcare Group (BHG), which can finance you in as few as three days (application link) so you can get your tax savings in place for this year. BHG focuses on providing loans for dentists and other licensed healthcare professionals without the hassles and red tape of a bank.
Get your info from experts...
Talk to your equipment rep for ideas in boosting production with the new equipment you purchase. A good rule of thumb is to buy/invest when the product will increase your revenue or decrease your expenses. This also applies towards other capital investments discussed later in this article.
SECTION 199 EXPENSING ELECTION Taxpayers (other than estates, trusts, and certain non-corporate lessors) may elect an expense deduction for the cost of qualifying section 179 property, such as dental equipment, office furniture and computers, placed in service during the tax year rather than treating the cost as a capital expenditure. The election is made on Form 4562. This deduction is limited to taxable income. The maximum Code Section 179 deduction is $500,000 for tax years beginning in 2010 through 2015. For tax years beginning in 2016 and thereafter, the $500,000 limit is adjusted for inflation ($500,000 for 2016) Dr. Dorothy Kassab is the President and Founder of DCC, and has been in dental practice since 2000. She graduated from Buffalo Dental School and is an owner of two successful dental practices in Syracuse NY and a partner in a dental practice in Chicago, IL. Over the years, she has helped local friends and colleagues with practice management and billing problems. In 2015, she was recruited to work on a national level, which was the birth of a dental billing business with remote capability.
BONUS DEPRECIATION Under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS), a bonus deprecation deduction is allowed for qualifying property placed in service before January 1, 2020. The original use of the qualifying property must begin with the taxpayer. The bonus depreciation rate is generally 50%. DOMESTIC PRODUCTION ACTIVITIES DEDUCTION The domestic production activities deduction (DPAD) allows qualified taxpayers to claim a deduction equal to nine percent of the lesser of taxable income (or adjusted gross income for individual taxpayers) or qualified production activities income, such as crowns with CAD-CAM, implants, and reshaping of teeth. For purposes of the deduction, only items that are attributable to the actual conduct of a trade or business are taken into account. The DPAD is claimed on Form 8903 Domestic Production Activities Deduction. The DPAD is equal to a percentage of the lesser of (i) the taxpayer’s taxable income (or an individual taxpayer’s adjusted gross income), or (ii) the taxpayer’s qualified production activities income (QPAI). The deduction cannot exceed one-half of the W-2 wages paid by the taxpayer during the year.
AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT Internal Revenue Code §44 grants a tax credit to small businesses for expenditures incurred for compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990. The Code allows eligible small businesses to claim a nonrefundable income tax credit equivalent to 50 percent of the amount of eligible access expenditures for any tax year that exceed $250 but do not exceed $10,250. The maximum credit available for a taxable year is $5,000. Form 8826 is used to figure the credit and the tax liability limit. A business is an eligible small business if, for the preceding taxable year, either (i) its gross receipts did not exceed $1,000,000 or (ii) the number of its full time employees did not exceed 30.
Caution: Hearing-Impaired In the latest case, the taxpayer (a dentist) bought a video system that provides magnified images of the patient’s mouth and offers the dentist a visual aid for explaining problems and treatments. The patient could also review educational information included with the system. Before purchasing the system, the taxpayer communicated with his hearing-impaired patients through handwritten notes and educational videotapes. Although he used the new video equipment with all of his patients, the purchase had an added benefit with respect to the hearing impaired because it eliminated the time taken up by note-writing and eliminated the need to sterilize pencils and notepads. In this case, the court held that the taxpayer’s purpose in purchasing the equipment was not to bring his business into compliance with the ADA since it had been in compliance before making the acquisition. Nor was the equipment used to replace the system of communication that was used to bring the taxpayer into compliance with the ADA. The educational video equipment was not a substitute for handwritten notes the taxpayer used to communicate with his hearing-impaired patients. Consult with your tax advisor regarding qualifying equipment purchases. Robert Ford, CPA, has worked with many dental professionals and me for many years. He is well versed in dental office accounting.
If you need assistance please do not hesitate to reach out to him:
Mr. Robert Ford, CPA
202 Walton St., Syracuse, NY 13202.
YOUR INVESTMENTS and TAXES
Your investments also have tax implications. You do not want it to be a surprise at the end of the year that your investment gains now will cost you thousands in taxes. I asked my financial advisor to comment on investment strategies as they relate to taxes.
It is important to do year-end tax planning to help reduce taxable gains.
1. Review your portfolio with your financial advisor/tax professional to determine positions that may be sold to offset realized gains for the year. This is called tax loss harvesting. By realizing a loss, investors are able to offset taxes on both gains and income. The security that is sold is replaced by a similar one maintaining the optimal asset allocation.
2. Maximize your retirement plan contributions. By investing today you save on taxes. The income when drawn in retirement will be taxable then. Your financial life encompasses more than your assets. It includes your goals for the future and how you want to live right now. When it comes to retirement, the decisions you make today can have a huge impact on what retirement will be like. “Your financial life encompasses more than your assets. It includes your goals for the future and how you want to live right now. When it comes to retirement, the decisions you make today can have a huge impact on what retirement will be like.”
3. Planning for Retirement has proven benefits for the dental professionals
Seven suggestions to help dentists plan for retirement:
1. Decide what’s important A good first step is to come to an agreement about your goals in retirement. Ask yourselves, what do you want your wealth to accomplish? What do you dream about doing one day? And here’s one question that many often forget to consider: What’s happening now that can impact your financial future? For example, are you helping support adult children or your parents? You can think through these important questions together and create a plan to pursue your goals once both of you agree on them.
2. Find a risk tolerance you can embrace Work to find an appropriate risk tolerance balance.
3. Don’t forget long-term care planning Life expectancy continues to grow, and many of us are spending more years in retirement. This makes issues like healthcare and eldercare more important than ever. Start having conversations now about developing a long-term care plan for yourself and your partner. For example, do you envision staying in your home as long as you can? How heavily will you rely on family to provide your care? How do you intend to fund future health and long-term care costs?
4. Coordinate your strategy for Social Security Even if you’re not counting on Social Security as a major source of income in retirement, it’s important to know that there are various options to consider. Making informed decisions before you start taking Social Security can lead to significantly higher benefits over the course of your retirement. Discuss the best option to maximize your Social Security benefits with a financial advisor.
5. Keep yourself informed. It’s good to know the following:
• Your net worth
• Your assets, liabilities, insurance, property and financial accounts
• Where each of these items is held
• How to access your money once you retire
6. Get involved and stay involved. Make it a point to review investment statements. Check in to see if it’s time to adjust your strategy, and make sure you are having conversations with your financial advisor, as well as your lawyers and accountants. You should talk on a regular basis to make sure you have the information you need, your goals are aligned and you’re pulling in the same direction.
7. Children's Education Fund. In addition to planning for retirement, it is also important to plan ahead for higher education. With the cost of higher education skyrocketing, you need a plan to help your children or grandchildren get the education they need to help put aside for a child’s higher education expenses on a tax advantage basis. Talk with your financial advisor to learn the benefits and considerations of starting a 529 plan.
Mr. Mark Worden, from UBS investments, has been working for years with many dental professionals, as well as, other healthcare professionals. He is well versed in investment strategies and the implications of investments on taxes. If you need assistance in year-end planning, a review of your current investments and strategies, creating a life plan, a review your insurances, please do not hesitate to reach him directly.
Mark J. Worden, CRPC
First Vice President
Senior Portfolio Manager
UBS Financial Services Inc.
299 Park Avenue, 9th Floor New York, NY 10171
T: 212-333-8997 440 S.
Warren Street, 6th Floor,
The Galleries Syracuse, NY 13202
We hope that you had a great prosperous 2016 year. Don't forget to run your accounts receivable over 30 days aging reports (unresolved claims aging report and unpaid patient balances report). Be involved with the financial aspect of your practice. Many offices struggle with cash flow due to money being tied up in accounts receivable. As a result, the practice can be pushed behind in bills which can negatively impact the long term health and wealth of the practice. If you feel that your internal systems need improvement and need assistance, do not hesitate to reach out to us www.dentalclaimscleanup.com or call (315) 813-1973.
In Better Dental Health Always....Dr. Dorothy Kassab
|Posted on July 31, 2016 at 6:00 PM||comments ()|
I am compelled to write this article due to the number of clients that started our service this month as a result of theft in their dental office.
The subject of theft stirs something in my core. Dentists, as a group, are good, honest, people, trying to make a living. They are also the MOST vulnerable profession exposed to the potential of theft. Let me tell you why.
1. lack of training in business management leaves the owner at the mercy of others to run their accounting
2. the dental business structure does not allow for cost effective tasks distribution to prevent "one hand in all pots" which leaves one person doing all the financial aspects of the business.
3. busyness of the business leaves the owner exhausted and non-motivated to deal with the business part of the practice
As a result, the situation provides a great, tempting opportunity for theft that goes un-noticed for years and maybe never discovered. The purpose of this article is to reveal the methods of theft, set safeguards, and provide guidelines to prevent creation of an environment where theft proliferates.
Here is some examples of ways theft can occur:
1. front office asks patients to allow her to fill out/write checks for patients and instead of writing the check out to the practice, writes her name on the checks then cashes them
2. front office sets up a checking account with her name as authorized signee for check deposits. Uses this account for personal expenses
3. Front office takes cash payments for procedures and does not record transactions in the dental software
4. front office records huge discounts for cash procedures, paid in full by the patients, in the dental software and pockets the discounted amount out of the cash from daily deposits
5. front office submits lower fees than UCR and records adjustment to collection, then takes out cash from deposit to cover the overpaid amount
6. team uses business credit card for personal expenses
Here is a list of bare minimal involvement in the financial aspect of the practice by the owner Dentist, without exceptions! Starting the day after you read this article you will do the following.
a. reconcile the monthly bank statement. Bank reconciliation is a balance check for discrepancies between the daily deposits (what should have ended up in the bank) compared to your report from the practice management system. The other items that will be verified is the expenses paid with checks to vendors, as well as, any unusual transactions. For this task you will need to obtain/run the monthly deposit report from your dental software and have your bank statement available. In your Quickbooks, Quicken, or any other financial management software, you go to the reconciliation section, put in your starting and ending balances, and you check off things that were recorded throughout the month against the bank statement. This takes 5 minutes and is an easy task that even the computer illiterate can perform. The financial management software should be closed out monthly, and password protected, after your reconciliation of the bank statement.
b. review of all discounts and adjustments made throughout the month. This is another report from your dental software. The software will break out the insurance adjustments, patient discounts, and refunds. No one is authorized to provide discounts to patients other than current promotions or discounts at Doctor's discretion. All discounts must be reported on claims submitted to insurance companies, since the insurance benefit is calculated based on the fee after the discount is given. Lack of reporting of discounts is considered insurance fraud.
c. review collections report. There should be no adjustments to collections here. Any adjustments to collections should be refunds to insurance companies, refunds to financing companies, or refunds to patients. If there are adjustments to collections other than those mentioned you need to research why. A common fraud that occurs, is that the fee submitted to the insurance companies are lower than the UCR. As a result the insurance overpays. Since your dental software is waiting on payment that is lower than the insurance payment sent to you, if you record that the expected payment was received but the over-payment is adjusted (adjustment to collection), the money can be moved out of the daily cash deposit and can go unnoticed.The patient's ledger will be reconciled as $0 balance, but the over-payment can be moved via cash outside of the dental software accounting system. We have also seen this, for instance, as deceit in associate Dentist under-compensation and it is directly related to not having the updated insurance fees in the dental software. The over-payment was adjusted to collection from the Associate and credited to the owner.
d. Prevent setup of vendors in the financial management software by the same person that does the bookkeeping. Setup and editing of vendors information should be done by the Administrator/Owner or someone other than the main bookkeeper. Fraud can occur when vendors are setup with fraudulent information so that expense checks can go to that address and can be cashed by the perpetrator.
e. Review what's expected to be collected (patient's portion) in the morning and track what was actually collected to be review in the am huddle next day. This is good to track the practice collection rate, promotes the team to collect at time of service, allows for open monitoring of cash flow, is good for the health of the practice and an incentive program. Along with collection rates, production efficiency (what was booked and what showed up) and acceptance rates (what was planned and what scheduled next visit) should be tracked. The collection rate at time of service should be 97% or higher, the production efficiency should be 98% or higher, the treatment plan acceptance in hygiene should be 35% or higher, and assistants acceptance rate (treatment scheduled out of Doctors rooms) should be 45% or higher.
f. Person preparing/reviewing deposit should not be the same person who collected money all day. There should be one other person in the office that checks off on the actual deposit with their signature. If you report what should be collected at time of service in am huddle, and then a team member will review what was or was not actually collected by the front office, this will deter possible fraud. It is less likely that there will be 2 accomplices.
g. review production in the morning huddle of the previous day. Review anticipated production and actual production. Run daily reports and ask team to bring to morning huddles. This ensures that all procedures are recorded in the dental software. Fraudulent activity will be prevented if the team knows you reviewed in the huddle what you were booked to produce and review again what you actually produced. We have our providers sign off on their production. This also prevents inaccurate billing or lack of procedures that need to be billed. Many times the appointment card does not contain procedures that need to be checked out, as a result those procedures are not billed and are difficult to catch that they were not billed since the only record of the actual procedure is in the progress notes. If your office does not put procedures in the appointment card of what is scheduled you MUST start that today. Also ALL discounts to be given MUST be reflected in the appointment card. This serves as an official, authorized discount by the owner. The dental software is designed to enter the treatment plan, schedule procedures from the treatment plan (which also removes them form the treatment plan as they are scheduled), and then billed/checked out from the appointment card. Things are missed and fraud occurs when this is not followed. Something always gets omitted and it results in errors and ultimately in lack of money for the practice.
h. close out your day daily. After all transactions are entered and the deposit is balanced against production and the schedule, the day needs to be closed so no changes can be made thereafter. This is important if you are reviewing the production/collection results the next day, so you want to make sure no one can change what you just reviewed. For instance, if you review daily production procedures and now remember transactions that were part of the production, the team is less likely to remove any transactions after you reviewed and they are less likely to pocket money paid on those procedures. The day is already closed so they can not make changes to the system, so all production and collections are recorded. Too many offices do not close out the day and the team can go back and make changes to accounts. If your office does not close out the day daily you MUST start this immediately. To open up the day after it was closed, it should require a password, and needs to be done by the owner. Don't forget, the financial management software should be closed out monthly after your reconciliation of the bank statement.
i. deposits MUST be deposited in the bank daily. Once you close out the day, the money collected should be given to the bank that night in a nightly deposit envelope and dropped in a night deposit box. If you signed up for electronic transfer of funds (ETF) by the insurances, your team has to enter the EOBs same day you get a notice of ETF deposit, or the reconciliation of your bank statement will be a nightmare. Daily deposits of your money ensures:
1. easier reconciliation of deposits against your dental software since the dates will be accurate
2. prevents money laying around the office and possibly disappearing. If the team knows you will be reviewing the production and collection in the morning, fraudulent activity will most likely happen after your review. If the day is closed out, and the money is in the bank, fraud is less likely.
j. sign/review all checks to vendors. The team can prepare the checks. Al checks to be signed should have an invoice or bill paper-clipped to the check to be signed. If they enter the bill to be paid in the financial management software they need to scan the invoice or bill as an attachment to the software bill to be paid. The owner Dentist reviews the bills to be paid, signs the checks, or reviews the bills in the software, and then the OWNER pays them online through online banking. Online banking is an excellent method to handle your finances. There is a record of all checks and addresses where the checks went, you have control who has the ability to write checks and pay bills, and control who can setup new vendors. The other method of paying bills is through credit card payment. With a credit card, there is a record where the money went and ability to attach invoices or bills to each credit card payment.
k. credit card charges alert to your phone. Log into your online credit card and setup alerts (as an email or text) to go to your phone every time your credit card is used.
l. review the credit card monthly statement. Just look at it please!
In closing, your involvement in the financial aspect of the practice is crucial to prevent the opportunity of theft.
If you suspect fraud in your office or want to prevent fraud with safeguards, please reach out to us and we can assist you. The situation can be managed in several ways. We can be hired for an initial investigation or we can setup safe guards. Also, we can be the mediator with the team as the professionals instructing the practice to have the Doctor's involvement in the financial aspect (this is a good method if you are afraid the team will feel uneasy if you start asking for reports or you are doing more than you used to). Or you can outsource your billing with us. Please reach out if you need our assistance. In addition, if you were a victim of fraud, we would love to hear your story so we can see what safeguards would have prevented that from happening and learn from your unfortunate experience. Email us at [email protected]
|Posted on July 19, 2016 at 4:05 PM||comments ()|
One dreaded task for the dental front office is insurance benefits verification. Here are some of the issues that the front office has to deal with:
Length of time on the phone keeping front office away from live operations due to waiting for insurance reps to answer the phone and the length of the actual phone call. On average, there are 6 new full benefits verifications (new patients, emergency patients, existing patients with new insurance) that need to be obtained with an average 15 minute call time. That is 1.5 hrs on the phone.
Increased number of phone calls that have to be made to obtain full benefits breakdowns due to more frequent insurance plan changes by employers
Insurance misinformation, many insurance reps do not give the correct information causing estimation errors or wrong plan setup
Uninterrupted length of time and expertise required to enter new plans for new patients, emergency patients, or existing patients with new insurances. Once you obtain the insurance benefits verification now it takes on average another 10-15 minutes to setup the new plan in the system.
Plan clauses (exclusions and frequencies) are not considered in the practice management system. There are no fields and no provisions for this information, but the information effects correct patient portion estimation. During treatment planning, plan specific information must be applied manually and many times it is overlooked resulting in an incorrect estimation.
Plans that pay on UCR are difficult to obtain a correct estimation
Insurance fees have to be updated annually to allow for the estimation (based on the benefits verification) to accurately be computed. Updating the fee schedules for several plans takes many hours and the team has to remember to contact the insurances individually for the most updated fee schedule. We have come across insurances which refuse or make it difficult to release to the providers their updated fee schedules.
Why do we bother with this task? Because it is our obligation and it is essential to inform the patient of their treatment cost involved BEFORE they proceed with treatment. Furthermore, for the health and wealth of the practice, we should:
collect at least the patient’s portion at time of service to keep a constant cash flow into our business
not surprise the patient with a higher balance due to lack of coverage on plan exclusions or frequency limitations during our treatment estimation
know if the patient has active coverage, otherwise, the patient will be surprised with a higher unexpected balance
Financial Conflicts between patients result in 3 main issues:
the loss of a patient from the practice
an angry patient with the office or the Doctor
dissatisfaction with work performed and an excuse for the patient to refuse to pay for something they are not pleased with
Here is a protocol that is effective for dental insurance benefits verification:
All hygiene patients are verified with electronic services and phone calls if there is no e-services linked with the insurance company. We like ClaimX insurance verification software from Extradent. It is fast, accurate, cheap, and draws directly ALL patients for the day from your schedule. All new patients & existing patients with new insurance are verified by phone call and a new benefits verification sheet is filled out. The information is entered in the practice management system and the benefits verification sheet is scanned to the patient's chart. All emergency patients are verified with electronic services, if they came in for hygiene within 6 months, and with a phone call, if they did not come in for hygiene within 6 months or if their insurance is not linked with e-services verification. The verification for hygiene patients is 3 business days prior to appointment. New patients and emergency patients are verified same day the appointment was made. The insurance fee schedules are obtained in January for every insurance in contract and the system is updated. Do not proceed with treatment without a signed financial agreement and treatment plan estimation. Clear instruction is given to the patient that the patient's portion will be collected at the time of service.
|Posted on March 19, 2016 at 8:45 PM||comments ()|
Out of Control Overdue Patient Balances Working with practices across the nation provides us with trends and common struggles in dental offices. One denominator is that many offices have the patient balances over 30 days are out of control. It is our job to clean those up, but if we do not help the practice change their protocols there will be more balances rolling over as fast as we clean them up. Here is what must happen in the to make sure that your cashflow in healthy and the accounts receivable growth is minimized. 1. Correct estimate of treatment plan with a clear financial agreement. For this to happen 2 things are pre-requisites:you must have the insurance fees update and the plan breakdown in correctly, you must verify insurance coverage and call on plan breakdown once per year. This agreement needs have the following components to specify the following: A) your total price is… B) the in-network discount for the patient is… C) the estimated insurance is…. D) the patient’s portion that needs to be collected at time of service is… E) must tell the patient that once the claim resolves, there might be more that the patient owes….. F) the insurnace estimate is not a guarantee and is base don prior hisotry of payment, the insurnace will determine what the patient willowe and what the insurnace will pay…. The agreement is signed by the patient, patient gets a copy, and scan a copy to the patient. 2. You must collect whatever the financial agreement stated at time of service. We try to collect the copay before the procedure is done. We print the scanned financial agreements and have them ready for the am huddle so we can review with the Doctors what is expected to be done today and collected today. Someone is responsible to report on prior account balances to be collected at time of service. 3. Review in the am huddle balances to collect for each patient. This should include the prior account balance and todays copay. Review the next day what was anticipated to collect yesterday and what the team actually collected. If they did not collect what was expected, the Doctor needs to know why. You might find out that you have a weak link managing your money. 4. As soon as the EOB resolves, call the patient stating that the claim resolved and the insurance determined that the patient owes______ and you are calling to collect the balance over the phone to settle the account and avoid billing. 5. Follow this collection process: a) call patient after EOB was entered to collect balances, if you don’t reach the patient b) send out balance due letter with 10 days response demand c) if you don’t hear from the patient, send 1st notice overdue balance 14 days from balance due letter. d) if you don’t hear from the patient, send final notice with a 10 day response demand 14 days after 1st notice letter. e) if you don’t hear form the patient, call the patient: You will tell them that you are calling to interfere with an automatice collection agency process. The collection agency automatically takes over overdue accounts unless they settle the balance right now with you on the phone. You certainly don’t want this matter to interfere with the patient’s dental care or relationship with the office. So you are calling as a courtesy to a long standing good patient of the office. If they don’t settle over the phone tell them to mail the check in within 3 business days. f) if you don’t hear form the patient send to collection agency and allow collection agency to follow through with their collection protocol 6. run your AR reports weekly. Review with your team responsible for billing the outstanding patient balancing over 30 days and unresolved dental claims over 30 days. This is your supervision checks and balances that the team is resolving money owed to you and that your current systems are executed and effective. Obviously if you can not supervise, then you need to outsource dental billing.
|Posted on November 23, 2015 at 9:55 AM||comments ()|
Outsourcing dental billing is a novel concept in the Dental Industry. The fact is, that medical billing has been common practice for decades. The reason why is that medical offices have a high volume of insurance claims and need dedicated people with expertise to handle this job efficiently and effectively. It is expensive to have that team on site. As the landscape of Dentistry has changed, and the private practices increased their provider participation, the insurance claims volume increased respectively. However, there is still lack of formal education in the dental coding and billing field, since the didactic arena has not kept up with the changing trend of increased insurance providers. As a result, the dental billing remains an "on-the-job" training position. Therefore, good, but also bad, as well as lack of skills are passed on. Outsourcing dental billing has the following benefits:
1. expertise of the dental billing company gets you paid fast
2. lack of mistakes prevents angry patients
3. lack of payroll taxes and benefits saves you money
4. dental billing company does not call in sick or takes a day off of working your accounts, so you have constant flow of cash
5. professional routine reporting allows you to stay informed on health and wealth of the practice, but also provides barometers for improvement of intra- office mistakes, therefore allows for improvement. (you don't know what you don't know-with reporting on each and every claim you will know)
6. cash tied up in unresolved dental claims can have a detrimental effect on the survival of practices
7. New Dentists now have the option to be in a private practice without the knowledge of accounts management. The increasing trend of working in Corporate Dentistry is attractive to new graduates who do not have knowledge in the financial aspect of the practice. If this continues the private practice in Dentistry as we know it will cease.
Please visit our website for more information www.dentalclaimscleanup.com
|Posted on October 19, 2015 at 11:30 AM||comments ()|
So here is a concept that might be new to you- "Appointment Pre-Booking Interview". This is a series of questions from your scheduling coordinator to our patients to discover if they truly should be given an appointment. What we have found is that the no shows kill practices and the financial burden that they place on the practice is unacceptable. So we researched what are the top 4 reasons that effect a patient showing up for their appointment. Research showed that they sequence from highest frequency as follows:
3. Fear and
In response to this we developed a series of questions that the team can ask. If, and only if, the patient answers YES to all do they go into the appointment book. As the team learns this concept the sheet goes away and they can make a decision whether or not the patient should be given an appointment. Here is the link from our website http://www.dentalclaimscleanup.com/files
In addition remember that we recommend 1/3 down of patient's portion for large procedures to be placed in the appointment book and 3% or 5% discount for total pre-payment.
|Posted on October 17, 2015 at 9:50 PM||comments ()|
Based on "The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney & Sean Covey"
Gives you a guide how to achieve a goal successfully with results in the office and track results. Take this example: if you want to decrease no shows in the office
1. focus: widely important goal must be set (decrease no shows)
2. leverage (find out 2 to 3 things that effect people showing up to their appointments) for example value of the procedure, time availability by the patient, price and affordability, fear of dentistry are all leverages that effect people showing up for the appointment. effecting any one of those will result in a person showing up or not. meaning if the person values the procedure he will show up if he does not he will not. So spending more time on education and taking/showing intra-oral picture on every patient while treatment planning should leverage that the patient will value the procedure and show up. Effecting the price...making procedure affordable by proposing care credit, 5% discount for prepayment of procedure can leverage if the person will show up or not. etc. Then you systematically tell the team to educate, propose payment options, etc.
3. engagement (meet every week to discuss progress and keep team motivation and focus on the project)
4. accountability (set up a tracking system visible to everyone to keep score on progress and success or failure). you track how many people you offered payment options and educated with intra-oral picture on the procedure and they actually showed up. The more systematic you are the more successful you should be. You can build a whole incentive program and set goals from there.
This applies to anything you want to change successfully int he office. Love that book.
|Posted on October 17, 2015 at 5:10 PM||comments ()|
NON-COVERED PROCEDURES LEGISLATION BY STATE
Lawmakers in several states have passed new legislation that no longer allows insurers to require dental providers to give discounts for services not covered under an insured dental plan. Listed below are the states that have passed this legislation and links to the actual laws.
We encourage policyholders to share this news with their plan members who may obtain services from dental providers in these states. While this new legislation applies only to discounts on non-covered services under insured plans, and does not affect the policyholder's current insured benefit plan(s), members in these states may no longer receive discounts on non-covered services and should discuss any available discounts with their dental provider.
As the legislation continues to progress in other states, please check back for any updates, especially for policyholders with members located in multiple states.
|Posted on October 17, 2015 at 11:35 AM||comments ()|
Perio and Insurance Billing Q: There are 10 things you need to know about getting paid for your perio services or services related to perio procedures.
A: Here are 10 FYIs with perio insurance billing: 1. New patients needing perio maintenance: need to find out when last quads were done. The quads need to be within last 2 years for perio maintenance to be covered by insurance. If you send it in without that information you might want to add another 60 days to getting paid for the claim.
2. Any gingivectomy or crown lengthening (especially done with a restorative procedure) needs perio charting prior to date of procedure and the charting should be attached with the submitted claim.
3. Many plan specific exclusion clauses will not pay for gingivectomies or crown lengthening with a restorative procedure on same date of service. Need to call and verify coverage when you are planning that clinical situation and might decide to split the procedures on two different days.
4. Many plan specific bundling of gingivectomies with crown procedures consider the perio procedure as part of the crown procedure. Again call to verify coverage and you might want to decide to do it on 2 different days.
5. All quadrant scaling (localized and full quadrant) you should submit perio charting at time of service to avoid insurance asking you for more information and delaying payment
6. Perio surgeries need perio charting, quadrant scaling date of service, and x-rays all submitted with the claim to avoid waiting time for payment
7. Many insurances you can not do all 4 quadrant scaling in one day
8. Frequency limitation: how often you can do quads need to verify coverage
9. Frequency limitation for perio maintenance: some insurances say you need to alternate prophy with perio maintenance, but the ADA states once a perio maintenance patient then always should be billed as perio maintenance.
10. Plan specific adjunctive procedures considered part of perio maintenance for example: Diode laser disinfection (its considered a tool used not a service)so patient pays in full.