Should you Hire an Office Manager in 2018?
Most dentists struggle to manage the business side of running a practice. They’d much rather spend their time diagnosing and treating patients, and avoid dealing with all the business issues as much as possible. The problem is, this often results in broken systems, revenue shortfalls and even low team morale – a combination that isn’t exactly a recipe for success.
While it’s important to embrace your role as practice CEO and understand the business elements that come with practice ownership, you don’t have to do it all alone. Hiring an effective Office Manager can help reduce some of the burden, leading to a more productive, profitable practice with efficient team members who are happy to come to work each day.
What duties can an Office Manager take on? Here are a few:
• Making financial arrangements with patients
As you can see, this team member can be responsible for a variety of tasks, and must be good at working with numbers as well as with people. It’s important to understand the person you hire will essentially become the practice’s Chief Operating Officer, or COO, and will need a certain skillset and temperament to succeed.
Hiring the Right Person
Before you start the search, take some time to sit down and think about what role you’d like your new Office Manager to play in the practice. From there, create a detailed list of this team member’s responsibilities and the necessary skills for the role. Just like with any job description, be sure to include your expectations along with specific performance measurements.
Now, you might be thinking, Sally, I plan to hire an experienced Office Manager, so a job description isn’t really necessary. Sorry, but that’s not the case. As the practice CEO, it’s important for you to outline your specific expectations and your office’s specific needs. Doing so will not only help you find the right person for the job, it helps ensure that person is successful.
You must also make sure the person you hire has the right temperament. The Office Manager’s job isn’t easy, and requires someone who is personable yet efficient. If the applicant you’re considering is great with numbers but doesn’t like working with people or problem solving, that person simply isn’t right for the role.
The ideal candidates will exhibit a good balance between thinking and feeling in their temperament type. Why? Someone who scores high on the “thinking” scale is likely very task oriented and may come off as demanding to the rest of the team. Someone who scores high on the “feeling” scale, on the other hand, probably finds it difficult to hold staff members accountable and maintain practice policies. There’s the potential for damage to the practice with both personality types, which is why it’s best to hire an Office Manager who has a mix of the two.
To be effective, your Office Manager will also need to work well under pressure. The list of tasks on this team member’s to-do list is long, meaning he or she will be pulled in many different directions. If your Office Manager becomes flustered or short-tempered when things get a little hectic, the necessary tasks won’t get done. This is not only frustrating for you, but also for your other team members. Make sure the person you hire can handle the stress that comes with the job and juggle multiple tasks.
Hiring an Office Manager is a great step forward for your practice – just remember this new team member will do more harm than good if he or she isn’t the right fit. Your bottom line will suffer as will team morale, and instead of having more time to focus on dentistry, you’ll be busy handling problems your Office Manager creates. Take the time to find the right person and you’ll be rewarded with a more efficient, productive practice.
Next week: How to help your Office Manager excel
For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
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Dental Insurance Plans now include Exclusive Provider Organizations (EPO)
“My patient has no benefits here because we are not in their EPO network”
More choices for patients and their employers from many large insurers mean dental offices can no longer say “we accept all insurances except HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) or Medicaid.” Now practices must say whether they accept an EPO (Exclusive Provider Organization, closed panel) because there will be no benefits out of network, just like the HMO. Some EPO plans have out of network benefits for emergency services only or out of area (no EPO in the geographical area) – this must be confirmed. Unlike HMO, the EPO does not assign a provider or require referrals to specialists. It requires that all providers (specialists too) must have a contractual arrangement with the EPO in question.
It is even more necessary to perform “Insurance Verification” prior to the visit because many patients think they have a PPO (Preferred Provider Organization) when in fact the employer has purchased an EPO.
Many dentists will have to change their verbiage on websites to reflect what types of plans they are in-network with and whether they are a provider on an EPO network. This should all be verified prior to a patient entering the practice for services. Leaving it up to the patient is risking unpaid accounts and criticism from angry patients.
One of the largest dental insurers is Delta Dental. Below is information from their website and some links to help you understand this relatively new product.
Delta Dental EPO
PLEASE NOTE: This is a directory of licensed dentists who have signed contracts to provide professional services under Delta Dental. It is not to be considered a recommendation that a particular dentist be consulted for professional care.
For services to be covered, Delta Dental EPO members must receive treatment from a dentist who participates in the Delta Dental EPO network. Treatment performed by a dentist who does not participate in the Delta Dental EPO network will not be covered.
Every effort has been made to prepare this list accurately, but Delta Dental assumes no responsibility for possible mistakes or omissions. The dentists listed in the search results may not participate in our network for each location listed in the results. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you ask your prospective dentist if he or she participates in the Delta Dental EPO network at the desired office location where you will be receiving treatment. If you have any additional questions, please contact Delta Dental's customer service department at (800) 524-0149.
What is Delta Dental EPO?
What are the advantages of participating in Delta Dental EPO?
How do I know if a patient is eligible for Delta Dental EPO benefits?
Most patients do not want to lose their dental providers due to a change in insurance coverage. Many have a choice given to them before enrollment. Tell patients to call you first before making a change so you can help them make a decision that allows them to stay with your practice.
Help patients choose the better option with information provided in the link below:
Need to learn more about the ever-changing dental business environment? Call McKenzie Management for a course in Dental Office Management for 2018. Commit before the end of the year and receive a $500 credit towards tuition.
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