Dental Business Coordinator Wanted, Will Train
Speaking to dentists across the country, we know it is difficult and sometimes near impossible to find qualified and experienced dental business staff. This shortage of skilled candidates forces dentists to consider the hundreds of available applicants with experience ranging from corporate middle management, real estate sales, banking, marketing and customer service. The foundation of customer service, banking, marketing and management would certainly make for a great dental business manager, the only component missing is the “business of dentistry.”
“I can teach her and my dental assistant can help with terminology and insurance coding,” says Dr. Doesntknow. Taking time to train is essential for the success of the new employee. Without training, you are setting this person up to fail and costing the practice in lost patients and revenue. If the dentist and the dental assistant are busy with patients, who is going to do the training?
Take this case scenario of Dr. Doesntknow who hired Mary Marketer, a cheerful, educated and enthusiastic woman. Dr. Doesntknow relied heavily on his former business coordinator to enter all the treatment plans and do the insurance narratives and attachments to electronic claims. Now that she was no longer employed there, he knew that he had to either do those tasks himself, or delegate them to someone else. He would have to train himself as he didn’t know what his former business manager did all day at the desk. His dental assistant was not happy to hear that she was to train Mary Marketer and also take on entering all treatment plans.
Mary Marketer was getting the scheduling down and struggling to learn everything as fast as she could. As expected, she was making errors such as making appointments but forgetting to enter them into the computer. On the fourth day she was tired and knew she would have to spend the weekend studying teeth numbers and ADA codes. A pep talk was not coming from Dr. Doesntknow or his assistant.
As expected, Dr. Doesntknow fell behind on getting claims filed. His assistant did not have enough experience with the system to train Mary, but did make an effort to help her with scheduling. Denied claims started to come in as Dr. Doesntknow had omitted information necessary to file claims successfully. Cash flow started to suffer. Patients who needed to make appointments for treatment but wanted some questions answered first became names and numbers on a legal pad. Calls were not being returned in a timely manner, so customer service started to suffer too.
After careful consideration, Dr. Doesntknow admitted that even though Mary Marketer was great with the patients, she was in dire need of training by someone other than himself. His biggest concern was insurance processing, collections and building the practice.
A large percentage of dental practices rely on insurance payments to survive, so obtaining prompt reimbursement is critical. Correctly coding procedures is crucial to being paid, and also to avoid an audit by a contracted insurance company. Important as it is, most dentists receive little or no instruction on documenting and properly coding claims. Because of this, most rely on their administrative staff for this task. It would be a while before Mary Marketer would have a clear understanding of this process.
Hopefully Mary was given a realistic explanation of what was expected of her, along with a written job description to back it up. It would typically take from 3-6 months to correctly train a person with a solid business background to present treatment plans, code and document insurance and schedule to production goals, manage patient flow and deal with difficult patients. With this in mind, you must have a written training protocol for your business staff. Booking the time into the schedule and committing to spending that time in training is crucial for its success. Investing in Dental Business Training with emphasis on insurance and collections would certainly get Mary Marketer going in the right direction.
People who do their jobs well make the job look easy. When replacing a key person on your staff, have a clear picture of everything this person brought to the position and what you would like to add to the position. The business of dentistry requires detail, structure, follow through, excellent people skills and knowledge of dentistry.
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