4.29.11 Issue #477 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
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How May We Contact You?
By Nancy Caudill, Senior Consultant McKenzie Management

Technology is a wonderful tool in the field of dentistry. I started working in a dental office so many years ago that the word “OSHA” didn’t exist! That was a long time ago. We managed to operate a very efficient and profitable practice without the assistance of computers, digital radiography and calculators - imagine now what it would be like without these everyday necessities!

As I visit offices around the country, I find it interesting that there are a few “old habits” that die hard, such as that old IBM Selectric typewriter that sits on the front desk behind the Schedule Coordinator. People actually still use typewriters? Apparently so - to type the patients’ names on the labels that are attached to a paper record. Come on now, that is why Brother invented the “handy-dandy” little label maker that is the size of a small book. The font is much larger and easier to read - a must for all of us “old” employees!

And pencils and pencil sharpeners - I can’t remember the last time I used a pencil unless it was to rub a piece of paper over the patient’s credit card to make an imprint. How about carbon paper? I would bet that many of you don’t even know what carbon paper was used for in the business area - no, we didn’t cut it into small pieces for articulating paper - but that is a good idea!

My point is this: with all this technology at our fingertips, why do we still insist on sending statements, insurance claims, recall reminders and other correspondence through the mail? Could it be that in many cases you have never thought about whether there are more efficient ways of communicating with insurance companies and your patients? Let’s look at a few of the more common uses of technology to be used in your business area. Please note that I am not promoting any particular company, but only the general concept of these tools.

Electronic Insurance Claims
In the “old” days we used to put a blank ADA claim in the typewriter and actually type all the information onto the form, including the services that were performed for the patient.  A copy of the claim was made and the original was mailed to the insurance carrier.  When window envelopes were developed that would fit the layout of the paper claim, we thought that was the “cat’s meow.”

Now, it is simply a matter of a keystroke that creates the claim and another keystroke submits it directly to a clearinghouse that will either print the claim or continue to electronically process the claim to the insurance carriers for you. A digital copy is stored on your office computer in case it needs to be re-filed. 

The advantages to you:

  • No paper used
  • No printer ink used
  • No stamps used
  • No envelopes used
  • Claims are automatically rejected if certain pieces of information are missing, so they can be corrected quickly
  • The claims may be rejected immediately if the clearinghouse is aware that the insurance for the patient is no longer eligible for benefits, instead of waiting for 30 days to discover this when the Insurance Coordinator calls to follow up on the outstanding claim
  • The electronic claims are expedited and paid much faster than those remitted on paper
  • Saves time!

Electronic Attachments
In conjunction with the electronic claims, digital radiographs, perio charting, intraoral photos or any other digital image can be attached electronically to the insurance claim, eliminating the need to print the claim. The advantages are the same as above.

Text Messages and E-mails
The capability to remit reminders of upcoming appointments, contact past due recall patients and/or general dental information to your patients is SO much easier now, and much less costly since “snail mail” has been reduced drastically. Note that I said “reduced” and not “eliminated.” There will always be a need to contact some of your patients by phone or mail. Many of the dental software programs will allow you to create a “bulk” email to past due patients for recall at the touch of a few keystrokes. Let’s look at this scenario:

Mary, your Schedule Coordinator, has an opening at 3:00 this afternoon with your hygienist.  She needs to fill it as quickly as possible. She generates a list of 45 potential patients from her recall list and she instructs the software to send the following email to these patients:

“This is Mary at Dr. Smith’s dental office. We noticed that I failed to make your appointment for your professional cleaning and exam that was due last month. I am happy to report that I have an opening available this afternoon at 3:00. Please contact me ASAP to accept this invitation.”

Within 5 minutes, Mary received 7 responses. The first response was awarded the appointment and the others were scheduled on other days. Is that efficiency, or what?

In order to make this happen, it is important that you poll your patients to determine how they prefer to be contacted regarding appointments in your office:  text message, email, phone or mail. I would put money on it that 75% or more will elect text message or email.

“In order to better serve you, our readers, how may we contact you?” Remember - it is all about customer service.

If you would like more information on how McKenzie's Consulting Coaching Programs can help you IMPLEMENT proven strategies, email info@mckenziemgmt.com.

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