4 Reasons You're Not Getting Paid
Every month, you seem to have the same problem. You’re just not getting paid for all the dentistry you’re producing, and that of course is hurting your practice’s cash flow – not to mention leading to plenty of stress and frustration.
The fact is, collecting what’s owed from insurance companies and patients can be a difficult task, and is something many practices struggle with. They just don’t have the right systems in place to make collections a smooth process, and their practice suffers because of it.
That’s why I suggest outsourcing your insurance and patient billing to a company like eAssist. Outsourcing your billing department will help ensure you get paid in a timely fashion, while freeing up your team members to focus on what matters most: your patients.
Don’t believe me? Here are four reasons you’re not getting paid on time, and how outsourcing can help ensure that you do.
1. Your team members aren’t trained properly. Processing insurance claims can be a difficult task. Every insurance company requests different information, meaning there’s really no standard to follow when filing a claim. And if the team member you put in charge of insurance billing forgets to submit a piece of information that’s necessary for the claim to be processed, or somehow submits incorrect information, the claim will be denied and your payment will be delayed.
When you outsource insurance billing, you’re entrusting highly trained specialists to submit your claims. These specialists have years of experience in the dental industry and know how to communicate with insurance companies. They handle everything and ensure all the necessary information is included so you get paid as soon as possible. And if a claim is ever rejected, they start work right away to fix the problem.
2. You recently had turnover in your practice. If the person you put in charge of billing leaves, you’ll have to scramble to find another team member to fill the void while you begin the hiring process. This means there’s a good chance claims will fall through the cracks or be submitted with errors. Either way the result is the same: payment is delayed.
If you outsource billing, you know there’s always someone there to properly manage the claims. You don’t have to worry about what happens if one of your team members quits, calls in sick, takes a long vacation or is out for maternity leave. Claims will be correctly filed and you’ll still get paid on time, reducing your stress level. You’ll always have consistency with your insurance billing, no matter what else happens in your practice.
3. Patients aren’t being billed correctly. While it’s best for patients to pay their portion of the bill before they leave your office, that doesn’t always happen. Often, insurance doesn’t cover as much as expected, and you need to collect more from the patient. This can be a difficult situation, and might take multiple phone calls and letters before you get paid. It’s not only stressful for the team member dealing with collecting these payments, it also takes his or her attention away from other important tasks.
Having a dedicated phone number that patients can call with their billing questions and taking all the necessary steps to make sure their portion is collected will allow the patient and insurance billing process to run very smoothly.
4. Your team members just don’t have time. Dental practices are busy places, and your team members have a lot to juggle throughout the day. That means the employee responsible for billing insurance and patients might put off submitting claims or sending out bills for a few days, or even weeks, or never get around to resubmitting a rejected claim. This, of course, slows down the process – and if he or she waits too long to resubmit a rejected claim, it may even mean you don’t get paid at all.
As a dentist you have a lot to think about, from diagnosing and treating patients to dealing with human resource issues to billing insurance companies and patients. Many dentists task team members with billing, but this could lead to problems if the person you entrust isn’t trained properly or decides to move on.
Outsourcing tasks that take employees away from bringing in business and providing greater customer service is certainly worth consideration. You won’t have to worry if billing is getting done or not. You’ll know it is, and you and your team members will be able to focus even more attention on delivering the best patient care possible and growing your practice.
Next week: The benefits of outsourcing your billing department.
For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
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The Value of Scripting Patient Communication over "Being Yourself"
Recently I read an article from a dental coach who felt that scripting for dental office personnel was not allowing the person to be their “authentic self”. I had to hit the pause button and look at business at the front desk from their perspective.
If you memorize scripts and are told you must say them word for word, true, these aren’t the speaker’s words so they may not feel authentic. Scripting for communication success is not about being robotic and not “feeling” the meaning behind the words. Scripting is like a guide to ensure that you have prepared the information to include everything you want to say. It is about achieving an objective using the power of language. If you understand why you are saying what you are saying, you will not have to be scripted – but if you don’t, you need to be informed and coached to learn which words work the best in the situation. For most people with average and better speaking skills, asking them to stick to a script can be demeaning and diminish true communication.
Scripting has also been very helpful for front office staff who speak more than one language and English is often not their first language. They may be working in an office that sees a diverse group of people and are great with their ethnicity, but struggle with English-only speaking patients.
After listening to hundreds of taped telephone conversations between front desk staff and callers, I am convinced that the need for coaching or “scripting” is a necessary tool for practice success. Scripting is not just about the words you are saying, it is about your behavior before, during and after speaking. If you are in a bad mood when you answer the phone it will certainly be heard in your tone. When answering the phone, you must clear your head before beginning to speak. Voice, tone and expression (smile) must be consciously checked prior to speaking. Unless recorded and listened to, most people do not know how they sound to others. Part of the exercise to teach proper “scripting” is to do roleplay, recording and playback.
In about 90% of the training classes for Front Office Business and Office Manager Training, I have been asked to provide or write scripts for certain demanding situations that arise in an office, where no one knows what to say to resolve or diffuse a conflict. When you are “at a loss for words”, using the best scripted response can save the day.
One of the reasons people complain about telephone and email, not to mention social media, is that they do not allow for any non-verbal communication. Over the phone you cannot see a person’s facial expressions, eye contact or body language. This means that a huge part of meaning can be lost. That is why the words that are said must fit the message as accurately as possible. Over the telephone at a dental office we must use our voice and our words for the entire communication.
Here is a sample script that has helped countless clients:
Scenario: Patient wants treatment limited to what insurance will pay. She doesn’t understand the plan limitations and that she has more necessary treatment than insurance benefits under her policy.
Business Coordinator: “Mrs. Brown, according to your plan administrator, you are eligible for coverage as of ____. Your employer has purchased a package for you that includes the following benefits and coverage____. The plan that you have has a small per-calendar year benefit of $1,000. Your employer has provided this benefit to help you get some of the dental care you need, but it does not cover all the costs. According to your plan representative, you must pay the deductible of $50 and a co-payment of 20% of the fillings and 50% of the crowns. They have allowed you to have two preventive cleanings a year to encourage you to seek preventive care. You will use the $1,000 and then be responsible for payment of $550. You are ahead of most people by $1,000 and this is good. Once we get your treatment completed, we will put you on a preventive maintenance program and you will benefit from the yearly professional cleanings and examinations offered by your insurance plan.
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