Turn Data into an Action Plan for Practice Change
Seminars, continuing education webinars, journal articles, blogs, podcasts… these are just a few of the educational tools available to improve practice performance. The entire team might attend a course and then discuss it at the next staff meeting, throwing ideas around the room and making suggestions to start something new. However, the conflict between those who want to do something new and those who don’t can often cause the issue to die before it gets off the ground. Change is difficult for most people. There is fear involved and sometimes risk for many who like things the way they are and don’t see how change can improve things in general.
There are twenty different systems that operate in a dental practice. These systems are subject to performance measurement and improvement based on historical fact that can be analyzed by many of today’s dental software programs or by professional dental consultants who can interpret the information for you.
Let’s take your financial/collection system for instance. The measurement for the success of this system is the Accounts Receivable report along with the Outstanding Insurance Claim report. The AR report tells you who owes what, how much is owed and how long it has been owed to you. If the account balance falls in the 60 days aging column, then action is required to collect this revenue. If there is 10% or more of the total owed in the 90 day aging column, then your cash flow to cover overhead is suffering. Any insurance claims aging past 30 to 40 days is a sign that attention is required. With a system as valuable as this one, someone has to be in charge to make sure monies are collected promptly and correctly.
Your current system is to give a computer produced treatment plan estimate to anyone whose total is more than $500. No one has to sign a financial agreement. You collect co-payment for crowns and prosthetics only, claims are sent for payment and the patient is billed for any balance not paid by insurance. You give cash patients an immediate 10% reduction in the fee. You also give a 10% courtesy reduction to seniors over 62. You currently send about 150 statements monthly on the 25th of the month. This is the way you have always done it. The system was created by your previous office manager who has since retired and moved to Florida.
You and the business team just attended a billing/collection seminar and realized everything you are doing is wrong. How and what will you change? Who will be in charge of making and monitoring the changes? How do you create new systems to keep people from falling into the same routines? What do you tell your patients who are used to not paying? Don’t let fear of change stop you from adopting a better system. Start with one or two goals at a time. Suggested changes would be:
1. Everyone gets a computer generated treatment plan with estimated co-payment and deductible. This will increase over the counter collections for service as rendered.
2. Financial agreement is signed for any amount of treatment to prove that the payment options were discussed and agreed upon. Present CareCredit at this time for a payment option.
3. Collect for any co-payment due from insured patients at the time of treatment. If you are in-network with any insurance companies, this is required by the contractual arrangement.
4. Reduce fee for cash payments and senior courtesy. Give a 5% reduction in fee for amounts over $300 if paid with cash or check and 3% to anyone using a credit card. Giving a 10% or more reduction is assuming that you have a large markup in your fees.
5. Collect co-payments and deductibles at the time of service. This reduces the number of statements that go out. Patients don’t return when they owe you money, so fewer statements mean more patients who will return for treatment and recare appointments.
6. Diligently follow-up on any insurance claim in the over 30 day aging.
Most importantly, someone needs to be in charge of this system and accountable monthly for the numbers. Usually it is the Business Coordinator or the Financial/Insurance Coordinator or Office Manager. Need help implementing new systems or teaching your team how to talk to patients? Call McKenzie Management for the 2-day customized Front Office or Office Manager Training, and stop the loss of revenue.Forward this article to a friend
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