Dental Intelligence

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January 23, 2023

Improve Your Collections With Payments

Collecting payments is probably one of the last tasks you want to have to worry about. Learn how Jina Alcobia, Director of Operations at Implant & Periodontics Specialists and Love Your Smile, implemented Dental Intelligence Payments and made her collections process easier for patients and her team.

Office Operations, Payments, Patient Experience

After a long day of providing excellent dental care, the last thing you want to think about is how you are going to collect payment from your patients.

Commonly, practices wait until they hear back from the insurance company on a claim and then reach out to the patient. But getting a hold of that patient and getting them to pay for services they previously agreed to can be difficult.

They don’t answer or respond to voicemails. You could spend the time printing and mailing a statement, but that will probably just end up in the trash.

That’s why we created Dental Intelligence Payments – a simple solution to an everyday problem amongst practices. With Payments, you can easily collect payment in a variety of ways from text-to-pay and bulk payment requests to virtual and physical terminals. We do all the hard work, so you can focus on patient care.

Practices like yours have collected an additional $25,000 on average in their first three months using Payments. The best part is, it’s a low flat rate of 2.59% for all payments processed through Dental Intelligence Payments. It’s taken out at the end of the month, so you can easily keep track of your deposits and make reconciliation a breeze.

Implementing Payments

Jina Alcobia, Director of Operations at Implant & Periodontics Specialists and Love Your Smile, recently started implementing our new Payments features at her practices. Jina has over 12 years of experience in the dental industry, so she’s seen a variety of softwares and operational processes.

“We've used other softwares before and it didn't quite go well,” Jina said. “But when we started using Payments, it was a game changer!”

At first, Jina was a little nervous to try implementing something new into her office.

Jina thought to herself, “I have to teach something new to my team and it's one additional thing that they're going to have to take on. Is it going to be good or is it going to be bad?”

Fortunately, once her team members saw the value that Payments added to their office operations, they were quickly on board.

New System = Better Results

Once Jina’s practice opened back up after being closed a couple months due to COVID-19, they implemented Dental Intelligence Payments and have kept it ever since.

Because of the pandemic, Jina and her team wanted to limit contact with things from the patient, such as payment. So they started sending out payment messages via text on the day of a patient’s appointment, prior to the appointment. This allowed the patients to pay through a secure link, so they didn’t have to worry about paying in office.

“What we do is a little bit different than what some other offices are doing,” Jina said. “I highly encourage people to at least try what we're doing because it's been really great for us.”

This system allowed Jina to collect payment prior to their appointment which also helped minimize cancellations and no-shows. She says they’ve only had one or two patients respond and cancel.

“I feel once they've sent that payment in, it kind of locks them into it,” Jina said. “They want to go to this appointment because they've already paid for it.”

Collecting Payments Made Easy

Since they’ve decided to keep this process around, now when they are treatment planning with a patient, they will inform them that they will be receiving a text message requesting payments on the day of their future appointment.

This system also helps simplify the appointment process and limit any confusion while in the office, since the appointment is already paid for. Patients come in for their work and that’s it.

Jina and her team also use other features from Payments, including physical card terminals. They use the physical card terminals for patients who prefer to pay in the office or didn’t have an opportunity to pay beforehand.

“It's another easy way for them to take care of their payment with you.”

Jina also loves that Payments makes collections simple.

“All of the payments that come in are in one spot,” Jina said.

Once they come in, they can choose whether or not to have it automatically write back to the ledger in their practice management system.*

By using Payments, Jina and her team have managed to keep their AR Days at 14 days and their AR Ratio at 0.6.

What makes Dental Intelligence Payments so effective?

Text-to-Pay

With Dental Intelligence Payments, you can send a friendly, personalized text or email message to any patient to request payment. Messages contain a custom link that they can click to view their statement and easily pay using a credit card, debit card, HSA card, or Apple Pay. In just a few clicks, their payment is securely made and your collection percentage is growing in the background while you focus on other tasks.

Two Types of Requests

We know each practice is unique, so we made sure you have options — you can send a payment request to a single patient or in bulk.*

With single payment requests, the specific patient will receive one message. Each message is personalized for patients automatically, but with single payment requests, you can add an additional note for your patient before sending. 

With bulk payment requests*, you can pull a list of patients with past-due balances and then send messages out in bulk. You can choose which patients from the list you would like messages to go to or select all of them.

Virtual Terminal

Virtual Terminal allows you to conveniently collect payment over the phone. By using the Virtual Terminal, you can securely enter a patient’s payment information to make a single payment. The best part is their card can be saved on file to make it easier to collect payment next time.

Physical Card Terminals

Dental Intelligence also offers physical card terminals for your in-office payments, making it easy to keep all your transactions and reporting from all sources in a single place. Our card terminals have tap, chip, and swipe capabilities and can accept payment from virtual wallets.

Card on File

Make it easier to collect payment in the future by saving the patient’s preferred payment method on file. Our card on file feature allows patients to choose whether or not they want to save the card on file to make future payments even more quick and convenient.

Payments Dashboard

Our user-friendly Payments dashboard allows you to see everything you need to know about collecting payments, so you can stay on top of your AR.

With the Transactions tab, quickly view all successful payments made by patients. You can see whether or not a payment has been associated yet, which means it was written back into the ledger in the practice management system.*

Once payments are fully processed and deposited into your bank account, they will appear on the list in the Deposits tab.

The Payment Request tab will give you a list of all requests that have been sent. You can also view additional information about the request, such as patient name, date sent, requested amount, paid amount, and status.

Ledger Write Back*

Once a patient pays, you can choose whether or not to have it automatically entered into the patient’s ledger in the practice management system. The Transactions tab makes it easy to keep track of associated and unassociated transactions, so you can make sure each payment is properly recorded.

Other Great Features

On top of the features mentioned above, Dental Intelligence allows you to issue refunds and provides a digital receipt for patients that is sent to them automatically.

Get Paid Today!

By using Dental Intelligence Payments, you don’t have to wait weeks or even months to get paid. You can get paid immediately!

You don't have to manually create reports. You don't have to email or mail statements one by one. You don't have to make uncomfortable phone calls that suck attention away from patients currently in your office. With Payments, you can quickly check and see who has a past due balance, click a few buttons, and eliminate hours of work while getting paid faster.

Payments has helped thousands of offices improve their collection percentages and simplify the payments process. Want to learn more about how Dental Intelligence Payments can help improve efficiency in your office? Request a free demo today!

*Ledger write-back and bulk request functionality varies between PMS integrations.

Dental Intelligence

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January 18, 2023

Strategies for Reducing Dental Patient Short Notice Cancellations and No-shows

Last-minute cancellations of dental appointments can be frustrating for dentists and their staff. Keep reading to learn about the strategies you can employ to reduce short-notice cancellations.

Office Operations, Patient Experience, Patient Loyalty

Dental practices must handle schedules in a way that is healthy for the business. Schedule management should include handling patients who cancel appointments at the last minute or don't show up. Dental practices should train staff to reduce the rate of cancellation.

Dental practices can maintain a consistent appointment schedule by implementing strategies, such as using smart software to automate tasks. In this article, we discuss how to handle and minimize short-notice cancellations. 

Train Staff to Build a Relationship with Patients

Sometimes patients cancel appointments or do not show up because they fear dental visits. Train staff to assist patients who arrive at your dental practice by greeting them and having friendly conversations. Staff should establish a rapport with your patients so that they will feel more comfortable, which can lead to a decrease in cancellations. 

Send Appointment Reminders

Patients may forget they have an appointment, especially if booked weeks in advance. Staff should send up to three reminders to prevent forgotten appointments and no-shows. Ask patients to contact the dental practice if they need to change, cancel, or reschedule an appointment. By using appointment reminder software, you can automate the process of sending out reminders and allow the patients to confirm. If patients need to reschedule, they can let you know using 2-way communication.

If a patient calls to cancel, staff can learn the reason and try to resolve the issue. Remind the patient about their treatment procedures and oral health benefits to avoid last-minute cancellations

Educate Your Patients About Treatment Plans

Many patients may feel uncomfortable declining their dentist's recommendations. The likelihood of a patient not showing up or canceling their appointment is higher when they are not fully on board with the prescribed treatment. Ensure you spend a few minutes at the end of each appointment educating your patients.

Clearly explain how certain procedures can help improve their oral health and what problems may result from not treating the condition. By using treatment plan templates, you can easily provide the information your patients need on their treatment. Most patients will respond positively to your suggestions and advised treatment plans. Lastly, when your patients show up on time, make an effort to appreciate them, and give them recognition. 

Reduce Patient Wait Times

An effective way for dental practices to prevent short-notice cancellations is by reducing wait times. When patients arrive for their appointment, you should avoid making them wait too long. Patients are more likely to not arrive on time or even show up if they have previously experienced long wait times.

To reduce the effects of overrun appointments, consider implementing a short buffer time between each appointment. That way, your dental practice can see patients on time without interrupting the office workflow. 

Create Wait Lists to Handle Last Minute Cancellations

Dental practices can divide waiting lists into two categories: patients who frequently miss appointments and patients who don't mind coming in sooner.

Patients That Miss Appointments

Many dental practices deal with certain patients that make frequent cancellations. Consider moving appointments of such patients to a waitlist. Dental practices should send reminders (one day before the appointment) to patients on the waitlist to confirm appointments.

Patients with Flexible Schedules

Build a waitlist of patients who require an appointment sooner or have flexible schedules. A wait list allows your dental practice to quickly fill a slot due to a cancellation on short notice. Doing so provides a win-win, as the patient waiting receives an earlier appointment and your dental practice fills a gap.

Offer Your Patients Incentives

Make your patients feel appreciated by offering incentives to arrive at their scheduled appointment time. The best way to accomplish this is by offering prizes and discounts. If your patients arrive at their appointments on time, you can offer them discounts on certain services. You can also create a patient loyalty program that awards patients for showing up on time.

Alternatively, if your patients arrive on time, you can enter their names into a drawing.  

Showing gratitude for your patient's promptness is a good alternative if incentives are not viable. Have staff encourage patients by thanking them for their visit.

Use Smart Dental Scheduling for Managing Patients

One of the best methods for increasing the efficiency of your dental practice is to utilize dental appointment scheduling software. At Dental Intelligence, we provide an online booking system that can minimize short-notice cancellations and no-shows. Visit us to learn the best practices for dental scheduling training.

Contact our team at Dental Intelligence today to request a free demo of our suite of tools including dental scheduling software.

Dental Intelligence

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January 18, 2023

The Biggest Scheduling Mistakes Dental Practices Make

Schedules can make or break a dental practice. Keep reading to learn more about dental scheduling mistakes to avoid and how to better manage your practice.

Patient Experience, Office Operations, New Patient Acquisition

A great way to grow your dental practice is to schedule appointments appropriately. Effective scheduling can accommodate new patients and ensure that returning patients come back to your practice regularly. However, short-notice cancellations, long wait times, or double bookings can occur due to bad scheduling practices.

Below are common appointment scheduling mistakes your dental office could be making and how to avoid them.

Not Having Fixed Working Hours

Dental practices strive to provide their patients with the best dental care. An inefficient use of time and energy is one of the most common mistakes made by dentists. Schedule patient appointments for important procedures when you feel the most productive, such as early morning or afternoon.

It's important to communicate your working schedule with your staff. For the dental practice to succeed, you should work the hours convenient for you and not your patients. 

Not Scheduling Enough Patients

Avoid giving patients control over your schedule. If your dental practice does not see enough patients during normal business hours, you most likely have a scheduling problem. Being open for more hours could backfire by increasing labor costs and decreasing overall productivity.

Over time, the dental practice may struggle to fill weekends or evenings. Instead of working more hours, try pinpointing why the staff cannot fill the schedule during regular hours. 

Not Training Staff to Prevent Cancellations 

No-shows and cancellations can be frustrating and disruptive to your dental practice. Staff should try to convince patients to visit your practice if they call to cancel. Also, ask the patient for a reason for cancellation.

Depending on the answer, your staff should have the training to explain the treatment procedures, costs, and benefits to their oral health.

Not Providing Staff with Call Scripts

When your staff member picks up the phone, they may not know what to expect. Potential new patients might be calling to make an appointment, or a current patient may need to reschedule. It's essential for staff members to have access to well-thought-out scripts so they can handle any situation.

Scripts can help maintain a consistent message or voice for your dental practice. The scheduling process will become easier if your staff can refer to specific materials. 

Not Following Up on Missed Appointments

When a patient misses their appointment, your staff should contact them to follow up. Instead of accusing them of not showing up, give them the option of rescheduling. Practices with dental appointment scheduling software can offer easy and convenient rescheduling.

Offering pressure-free rescheduling allows patients to select the date and time that is most convenient for them. An easy-to-reschedule system can help reduce the number of short-notice cancellations and no-shows.

Not Leaving Slots Open for New Patients 

No-shows are more likely to occur if patients schedule appointment times too far in advance. Whenever possible, try to accommodate new patients within three days. Many dental practices end up losing new patients by overbooking. 

Not Sending Reminders

Dental practices should send patients reminders before their appointments. A day before the appointment, you can give the patient a call. Ensure these calls do not provide the option of canceling an appointment.

The purpose of these calls should be to express your excitement about seeing patients on a particular day and time. If the patient says they cannot make the appointment, you have enough time to find another patient to fill the slot. 

You can also use Dental Intelligence appointment reminders to automate the process and allow patients to confirm their appointments.

Not Having a Call Wait List

Sometimes gaps appear in the schedule due to unforeseen circumstances. For such situations, your dental practice should maintain a short-notice waitlist. Upon cancellation, you can call the first patient on the waitlist to schedule an appointment.

Alternatively, you can check the day's schedule to determine whether any patients are past due. If they agree to earlier treatment, consider moving them to the open spot.

Advanced Dental Scheduling Solutions for Dental Practices

Many dental offices still provide appointments over the telephone or by walk-in. Scheduling appointments is an ongoing challenge, and unfilled appointments can quickly result in lost revenues. At Dental Intelligence, we can assist you with the process; read our dental scheduling tips to learn more.

Contact us at Dental Intelligence today to try a modern dental appointment scheduling system and more.

Dental Intelligence

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January 18, 2023

5 Successful Patient Retention Strategies To Keep Your Dental Practice Thriving

Keeping your appointment book full can be challenging as patients cancel and reschedule. Here are some tips to improve your patient retention.

Patient Experience, Production, Reputation Management

Successfully running a dental practice is no easy task, especially keeping your appointment book full. As you know, building patient relationships and loyalty takes a significant amount of time and effort.

Below, we outline five patient retention strategies for dental practices, which can help you develop a genuine rapport with every patient who walks through your door. Read on to gain an edge on the game with our proven techniques for patient loyalty, retention, and satisfaction.

5 Effective Strategies Dental Practices Can Use to Improve Patient Retention

Did you know the average patient retention rate for dentists is a mere 41%?1 Furthermore, it costs far less to retain a current patient than to gain a new patient. Data show that acquiring a new patient costs healthcare practices five times more money than retaining an existing one!

1. Implement a Patient Loyalty Program

One of the best ways to improve retention rates at your dental practice is by launching a patient loyalty or reward program and offering incentives. Implementing a rewards program improves patient experience, benefits your reputation, and may even result in new referrals.

For example, our patient loyalty program rewards patients for specific actions, such as patient referrals, on-time payments, appointment punctuality, and so on. Each positive action earns loyalty points, which the patient can redeem for rewards such as discounted services or free products. It’s an effective strategy that will benefit your dental practice and strengthen patient relationship management!

2. Upgrade to State-of-the-Art Technology

If your goal is to boost retention by improving patient experience, it’s time to invest in a technology upgrade. By streamlining administrative tasks like scheduling appointments, filling out paperwork, accepting payments, or outlining treatment plans, your patients benefit from greater convenience and efficiency. You can use the following technology upgrade ideas as patient retention strategies to increase satisfaction and patient experience:

3. Create a Safe, Comfortable, Anxiety-Free Environment

For many patients, the thought of going to the dentist fills them with anxiety, and sitting in a cramped, packed, and dull waiting room makes the experience even worse. However, you can address these issues proactively by making your dental practice a safe, comfortable, and stress-free environment. Here’s how:

  • Improve your waiting room: Use comfortable chairs, add plants and décor, offer free wi-fi and TV, keep toys on hand for young children, supply snacks and beverages, ensure that your magazines are current, and more.
  • Enforce safety protocols: Be sure to give PPE (personal protective equipment) to your staff and patients and enforce strict protocols regarding sanitation and cleanliness in the waiting room and exam rooms.
  • Anticipate patient needs: If patients are noticeably nervous or anxious, guide them through their appointment by speaking slowly, explaining thoroughly, and being patient. You may also want to offer them headphones so they can listen to music during the procedure.

4. Stay on a Strict Time Schedule for Appointments

No patient wants to show up promptly to their appointment and sit in the office lobby filling out paperwork or waiting for an hour because the dentist is running behind or late. Therefore, do everything you can to ensure that your patient appointments are prompt, efficient, and on time — it goes a long way towards maintaining loyal patients and improving their experience.

5. Encourage Patient Feedback

Launching a platform where patients can express their honest feedback regarding your dental practice is one of the best ways to capitalize on patient retention strategies. For example, you can offer loyalty points for every patient who leaves an online review for your practice. In addition, reading online reviews allows you to gain critical insights regarding your practice and helps you successfully manage your reputation.

Improve Patient Loyalty and Retention Rates with Dental Intelligence

With the five patient retention strategies we just listed, you can improve patient experience, streamline your practice, and keep your appointment book full. Check out the Dental Intelligence blog to learn about patient loyalty program ethics and read more informative posts that can help you intelligently shape the future of your practice. Contact us today to schedule a free demo of our all-in-one product.

Resources

1 ADA article

Dental Intelligence

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January 18, 2023

5 Ways a Dental Patient Satisfaction Survey Can Benefit Your Practice

Reputation management is key to constantly knowing how to improve your practice so it continues to flourish. Here's 5 ways patient feedback can benefit your practice.

Reputation Management, Patient Loyalty, Patient Experience, New Patient Acquisition

Did you know that American dentists have an average patient retention rate of about 41%? In today’s digital age, reputation management and patient feedback will directly influence the success and growth of your dental practice.

So how can you address those factors and boost patient experiences? In this post, we will explain five ways a dental patient satisfaction survey can benefit and strengthen your practice, improving the quality of care and driving growth.

How Can You Collect Patient Feedback?

Before we talk about the primary benefits of patient feedback, know that a dental patient satisfaction survey is the best way to gain honest feedback. First, let us quickly explain the tools you can use to request, collect, and analyze this critical information.

  • Ask patients to fill out a paper survey after their appointment
  • Create a patient portal and dashboard for online reviews
  • Use our Swell integration for automated post-appointment review requests
  • Send SMS messages or telephone surveys for fast, simple communication
  • Manage your digital presence via a website, on Google, or otherwise

5 Benefits of Using Dental Patient Feedback Surveys to Evaluate Your Practice

1. Gain Valuable Insights About Your Dental Practice

You gain valuable insights when patients can express their honest, unfiltered opinion regarding the quality of care they received during their dental treatment. For example, you can discover areas where your practices could improve, such as customer service or communication. Conversely, you can identify strengths and what appeals most to your patients and apply those positive aspects to weaker areas.

2. Increase Patient Satisfaction and Retention Rates

Patient feedback surveys are excellent measuring tools you can leverage to improve overall experience and satisfaction. By learning what parts of your practice patients don’t enjoy, you can fix those issues and boost patient satisfaction.

In turn, this boosts your retention rates, which are critical to your continued success. Why? Previous studies show that it costs healthcare practices five times more money to acquire new patients than to retain existing ones!1

3. Improve Patient Communication and Build Trust

Another way a dental patient feedback survey can benefit your dental practice is by improving communication, building trust, and establishing credibility. By evaluating patient feedback and then using that information to make positive changes to your practice, you show patients that you genuinely value their feelings and opinions.

In addition, opening the lines of communication between dentists and patients is an excellent way to build relationships, encourage transparency, and improve patient experience. When your patients are happy with your practice, they refer you to friends and family, driving growth and keeping your appointment book full.

4. Boost Your Reputation

In today’s digital world, effective reputation management can make or break the success of a dental practice. In fact, 81% of patients analyze reviews to help them choose a healthcare provider.2 However, you can address this critical task head-on by evaluating patient feedback and using those insights to improve your practice. If you’re not actively managing your reputation and answering online reviews, it will inevitably harm patient retention, referrals, and satisfaction.

5. Identify Your Unique Selling Points

A vital key to success for dental professionals is pinpointing that “secret sauce” that makes your practice thrive and attracts new patients. Patient reviews and feedback surveys let you identify the best characteristics of your practice. Then, you invest time and energy into marketing that unique selling point to gain more patients.

For example, maybe you hold a weekly drawing for patients who receive routine cleanings, and the winner gets a free whitening session or an electric toothbrush. In fact, using dental giveaways to boost patient experience is another excellent strategy to keep your practice flourishing and improve satisfaction.

Patient Feedback Surveys: The Key to Building a Thriving, Successful Dental Practice

The critical data and insights you gain from a dental patient satisfaction survey can significantly benefit your dental practice. When patients see that you value their opinions and genuinely want them to have the best possible experience, the results will inevitably be positive. You can reap the numerous benefits of implementing a patient feedback program using tools from the professionals at Dental Intelligence. Contact us today to schedule a demo to see our innovation in action.

Resources

1 Forbes article

2 Forbes article

Dental Intelligence

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January 18, 2023

5 Ways To Handle Dental Complaints and Unhappy Patients for Effective Damage Control

Complaints and unhappy patients are an inevitable part of running a dental practice. Here's five tips on how to best handle these situations.

Patient Experience, Reputation Management, Production, Patient Communication

Dental complaints are a fact of life in the practice of dentistry. Of course, realizing that a patient had a negative experience at your dental practice never feels good. You may even feel upset or angry. However, it’s critical to address dental complaints promptly and professionally, which helps minimize the damage to the reputation and credibility of your practice.

Keep reading as we explain five expert tips on handling patient complaints about your dental practice.

How To Respond to Dental Complaints in a Professional Manner: 5 Tips for Dental Professionals

Nobody enjoys criticism. Hearing patients complain about your dental skills requires patience, grace, and open communication. Establishing communication in dental offices among dentists, administrative staff, and patients is one of the best ways to address and resolve concerns. For example, Team Chat is an effective way to strengthen communication and verbal skills.

1. Be Patient, Genuine, and Calm

Even if you feel like tearing your hair out or snapping back at a patient — and let’s be honest, complaining patients can often be quite rude — it’s important to maintain emotional and verbal control. At all costs, avoid escalating into a tense confrontation, which makes you look unprofessional or, even worse, aggressive. Instead, take a deep breath, count to ten, or splash cool water on your face. Teach yourself a trick or mantra to help you calm down, even if that means removing yourself from the situation for a bit.

2. Document the Complaint, Investigate the Facts, and Follow Mandatory Procedures

Every patient has the right to complain about their dentist or dental practice. A verbal or written complaint on a feedback survey is minor; sending an official complaint form to the state dental board is serious and could result in disciplinary action. If one of your patients makes an official complaint, be sure to collect related records, document the allegation in detail, and investigate the facts.  

If the board does discipline you, avoid another potential violation by strictly following their sanctions. Remember, substantiated complaints are public record. The best way to prevent the serious consequences that could result from a patient complaint is to provide top-notch care, follow state laws and regulations, keep meticulous records, and ensure that every patient has a positive experience at your practice.

3. Don’t Be Afraid To Admit Your Mistakes

One of the best ways to build stronger relationships and show a patient you feel genuine remorse regarding their negative experience is to remain humble and admit your mistakes. Of course, every situation is unique. So, what if you believe you didn’t make any mistakes? Well, it’s not always black and white. You might say, “I’m sorry you had a bad experience. We greatly appreciate and value your business and want to make things right. What can we do to resolve the issue at hand?”

4. Compromise To Resolve the Problem

Like any other problem, compromise is often the key to a successful resolution. However, that doesn’t mean you’ll always be able to compromise. Some patients are determined to be unhappy or feel that you’re not offering enough. However, don’t let anyone take advantage of the situation or your willingness to resolve the situation.

Start the resolution process by collaborating with your staff and the patient. Be sure to listen carefully and empathize with their feelings. Before you mediate with the patient in person, start with a brainstorming session, which can help you develop potential solutions and compromises.

5. Follow Up With the Patient

One mistake dental professionals often make after handling patient complaints is neglecting to follow up. Take the time to personally follow up and communicate with the patient, whether it’s by phone, email, or in person. Maintain a professional tone and calm demeanor, and listen carefully to their words. In some cases, you may be able to keep them as a patient. Sweeten the pot by offering discounts, free whitening sessions, giveaways, etc.

Effectively Handle Dental Complaints With These Five Tips

At Dental Intelligence, we know how challenging it is to manage a thriving dental practice, and dealing with unhappy patients and dental complaints only adds more pressure. With these five tips, you can effectively manage dissatisfied patients to minimize the damage to your reputation and business. Schedule a demo with us today to learn more about the innovative tools we offer dental professionals and how they can benefit your practice.

Dental Intelligence

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January 18, 2023

HIPAA for Dental Offices: How To Comply With Communication Guidelines

All dental offices must comply with HIPAA regulations including specific rules regarding communications. Here is an overview of HIPAA guidelines for different forms of communication.

Patient Experience, Office Operations, Patient Communication, Team Culture

As a dental professional, knowing HIPAA regulations is essential to ensure that your practice remains compliant. However, HIPAA for dental offices can be confusing, as the requirements differ slightly from other healthcare practices. For example, some dentists do not meet the criteria to be a Covered Entity, and specific HIPAA laws vary by state. In addition, many dentists may not realize that HIPAA limits the communication methods between staff, providers, and patients.

If you’re in the gray area regarding HIPAA guidelines for dental practices, keep reading. We will explain some of the most important regulations and policies you need to know regarding communication restrictions and compliance for providers, staff, and patients.

HIPAA Compliance: The Basics

HIPAA is an acronym for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which describes regulations and standards that healthcare providers must follow to ensure proper disclosure and use of protected health information (PHI).

The following types of patient information (contained in both digital and paper records) fall under PHI criteria:

  • Names
  • Addresses
  • Phone numbers
  • Medical records
  • Social security numbers
  • Facial photos
  • Financial information
  • Vehicle information
  • Account numbers
  • IP addresses
  • Biometric identifiers

The HIPAA Security Rule has three requirements to protect PHI, including technical safeguards, administrative safeguards, and physical safeguards. Furthermore, it requires dentists to appoint a security officer to choose and employ HIPAA-compliant software systems

Essential Information Regarding HIPAA-Compliant Communications in Dental Practices

You may already know that your dental practice can be subject to a HIPAA audit at virtually any time. Therefore, it’s important to understand the limitations in place regarding communications to prevent failing an audit.

Text Messages

Texting is an effective form of communication between dental staff, but there’s one problem: a standard SMS message is not HIPAA compliant and, therefore, should never contain PHI regarding patients. One solution is implementing dental office communication software, like the Team Chat platform we offer here at Dental Intelligence.

Essentially, it allows dentists and their staff to communicate internally through a private platform and includes individual and group chat options. Plus, it improves efficiency, convenience, and patient experience by facilitating seamless staff communication.

Email

Another way to ensure HIPAA compliance regarding staff and patient communication is with a secured email platform. However, you may only disclose PHI in an email if you send it on a secure server using encrypted software. If you’re emailing on an unsecured server, you may not include any patient PHI.

Phone Calls and Voicemails

Any Business Associate or Covered Entity can leave a message in a voicemail inbox or answering machine, with a patient family member, or someone who answers their phone when the patient is unavailable to speak. However, you must make a “reasonable attempt” to limit the amount of PHI you disclose during communications that are not in person or face-to-face.

Letters and Postcards

HIPAA allows Business Associates to mail letters or postcards containing PHI to a patient's home (or if they have another mailing address) on behalf of a Covered Entity (that is, your dental practice). However, the best way to ensure that your office remains HIPAA-compliant is to limit the amount of PHI you disclose in physical correspondence to patients. In addition, many dentists have gone paperless or upgraded their office to a digital, cloud-based system that provides greater security and privacy than paper filing

Social Media

One gray area regarding HIPAA communication compliance is social media. Even a seemingly harmless post that contains a patient’s face without their consent can result in a violation. The most common mistakes or violations regarding HIPAA that healthcare workers commit on social media include:

  • Posting photos with visible patient information, records, or documents
  • Discussing or gossiping about patients (even without their names)
  • Posting videos or photos of patients without explicit written consent
  • Failing to check that social media posts are secure, private, or deleted
  • Sharing PHI, videos, or images in a “private” social media group or messaging system that can identify a patient

HIPAA for Dental Offices: Communication Compliance and PHI

Although HIPAA for dental offices can be complex, your practice is still responsible for remaining fully compliant regarding PHI and communicating with staff, providers, and patients. However, upgrading to secure communication platforms and messaging systems, like the Dental Intelligence Team Chat, can make the process much simpler.

In addition, we offer innovative solutions for establishing relationships with your team, improving patient satisfaction, and streamlining your administrative tasks. Contact us at Dental Intelligence today to  request a demo of our cutting-edge technology.

Dental Intelligence

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January 18, 2023

Refining Your Dental Case Presentation Skills

Polishing your treatment case presentation skills will help improve your acceptance rate making your practice more productive and efficient. Here's some tips and best practices.

Treatment Acceptance, Production, Patient Experience

While most dentists would love to focus on preventative care, most patients who step into a dental practice are looking for solutions to acute or chronic problems. However, before you start getting your dental treatment plan template from Dental Intelligence ready, you need to be able to convince the patient that they need the dental procedures you’re proposing — and that can be more difficult than it initially appears! Let us help with your dental case presentation skills.

Patients have various reasons to be wary of the dentist’s recommended treatment plans. They may worry about the costs of larger procedures, or they may have concerns about pain or the procedure itself. They may even feel that treatment is unnecessary and that the practice is out to exploit them for additional money. While dismissing these concerns may be easy, doing so only worsens the problem of reduced treatment acceptance. 

So what can you do to ensure the best patient outcomes? In addition to honing your persuasive skills, a planned dental case presentation focusing on patients is a great place to start.

What Should a Good Dental Case Presentation Contain?

Having a clear framework makes planning the case presentation significantly simpler. While each patient’s case is unique, a template helps dentists address all major components of a successful dental case presentation. 

These include:

  • The patient’s concern, outlined as simply and clearly as possible
  • The patient’s medical history
  • The patient’s dental history
  • The patient’s social and family history
  • Justification for any special tests and investigations
  • An explanation of the dentist’s intra-oral observations
  • A clear diagnosis related to the patient’s initial concern
  • A case prognosis if left untreated
  • A proposed treatment plan and guide to dental treatment plan phases

Focus on the Problem

It’s easy for an experienced dentist to forget that while they clearly understand the implications of a particular dental condition, the patient doesn’t. Many patients with dental concerns may not have any symptoms, so they are unlikely to accept treatment for something that doesn’t appear to them to be a concern. Contrast these patients with those who come in with an emergency — who are usually more than willing to accept a proposed treatment plan. 

It’s best to start a dental case presentation with a thorough explanation of the diagnosis, how it affects the patient now, and how it will affect them in the future. Once patients understand the implications of their diagnosis, they are usually much more willing to accept treatments that address their future and current concerns. 

However, avoid exaggerating the problem and “scaring” patients into treatments. Dental patients must make informed decisions based on accurate information — and scaremongering may drive them away. 

Dental Case Presentation Best Practices

The best dental case presentation combines speech with non-verbal cues and visual aids, such as diagrams or photos. 

Other best practices include: 

  • Holding the dental case presentation in a private consultation room, especially for major restorative work or patients needing multiple appointments
  • Using layperson's terms whenever possible and explaining any technical phrases
  • Discussing the reason for the treatment, what to expect during and after the treatment, and the risks associated with the plan or leaving the condition untreated
  • Speaking calmly, encouraging questions and feedback, and addressing their concerns without dismissing them
  • Confirming understanding by asking the patient questions about their proposed treatment. Note that simply asking a patient, “Do you understand?” will generally get a positive answer, even if the person doesn’t understand. This miscommunication can result in erroneous assumptions and catastrophizing on the part of the patient, leading to lowered treatment acceptance.
  • Presenting information in small blocks and confirming their understanding before proceeding.
  • Supporting your presentation with visual aids that help patients visualize the problem and treatment options. Common visual aids include physical models, photographs, and brochures.
  • Avoiding using any high-pressure tactics — the consultation must be a conversation, not a sales pitch

Many patients are embarrassed when talking about financial concerns. Keep these conversations limited to a private space and reassure the patient that the dental practice has financing options to help ease the financial burden of major dental treatments. 

Ultimately, dental practices want to deliver the best service to their patients, which involves providing the best possible treatment for their condition.

Strong presentation skills, established best practices, and a proven template can greatly improve your treatment acceptance rate, resulting in happier and more loyal clients.

For more ideas on how to take your dental practice to the next level using a dental case presentation, contact us today and schedule a demo of our all-in-one solution!

Dental Intelligence

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January 17, 2023

How To Discuss Dental Financing Options With Patients and Schedule More Treatments

Dental staff members are often unsure how to approach financing for dental patients. However, with the right approach and communication techniques, discussing dental financing options can benefit your patients and help you grow your dental practice.

Office Opearations, Payments, Patient Experience

Having conversations with patients about dental financing options is likely one of the most significant challenges your team faces every day. With dental care expenditures continuously rising, scheduling treatments with cost-conscious payments can be challenging. 

In this guide, let’s look at how to discuss dental financing options in a manner that:

  • Encourages patients to accept expensive treatments
  • Decreases the number of account referrals to collections
  • Increases the number of patient referrals

Consider the guidelines below to address cost objectives and increase your case acceptance rate. 

Be Confident About Your Pricing

Dental financing conversations are often uncomfortable, especially when dental team members themselves believe no grounds exist for high treatment fees.

When a patient calls you out on the pricing of a treatment you recommend, it can be easy to second-guess your fees. However, when considering the expenses you incur to run your office and provide treatments, it becomes easier to stand behind your fee structure.

Once you start tracking expenses, such as wages, rent, laboratory fees, insurance, and dental supplies, you and your team can confidently discuss treatment costs with patients.

Demonstrate Treatment Value

Prospective patients often object to a dental procedure’s cost because they don’t understand how a specific treatment will benefit them.

Patients might understand what fillings, veneers, or crowns are, but do they realize what positive impact these treatments will have on their well-being, appearance, or quality of life?

For example, a patient may understand that a crown prevents further tooth decay. However, do they know that this dental treatment will restore their facial appearance and make it easier for them to talk and chew?

Discussing the patient’s problems and the solutions you can offer allows you to demonstrate the treatment’s value and frame the treatment as an investment.

When To Have the Cost Conversation

If you run a fee-for-service dental practice, you should have the cost conversation during the first phone call with the patient. Having this conversation during the initial contact is crucial because the patient will need to make a payment when they arrive for their appointment.

On the other hand, suppose your practice implements a traditional reimbursement system, which involves an insurance payout after processing the patient’s claim. In this case, your objective should be to onboard the patient. After verifying the patient’s benefits, your team can discuss available financing options.

Once the patient understands the value of the treatment and decides to continue with the procedure, they need to understand which financing option is best for them. This step is crucial, whether the patient is solely responsible for the entire payment or the gap between the cost and insurance payout.

Tell the patient the amount due after applying for their benefits, then ask them how they would like to pay. In some cases, patients pay immediately with a credit or debit card. However, if the patient wants to learn more about their options, you can offer a payment plan that requires weekly or monthly payments.

Alternatively, the patient can consider dental loans. Patients can use these unsecured personal loans to pay for their dental treatments. If your practice partners with a specific credit provider, you can recommend it as a financing option. In this case, you may need to explain the applicable financing terms, such as the prepayment penalties, unemployment protection, and fees.

Who Is Responsible for Discussing Financing Options With Patients?

Each team member should be comfortable discussing dental financing options with patients, including the dentist, front office staff, and financial coordinator.

Ensure that all your team members understand the expenses surrounding dental treatments. You and your staff should be able to present treatment and payment plans confidently while emphasizing the treatment’s value for the patient.

Contact Us at Dental Intelligence

If you want to provide your patients with stress-free financing options, consider the fully integrated patient financing program by Dental Intelligence and Wisetack. These financing options integrate fully with your treatment plans and provide your team members with instant answers to questions patients typically ask. This solution also provides your patients with pay-as-you-go dental financing options, saving valuable time and money.

Schedule a demo today to learn how to provide dental financing for patients.

Dental Intelligence

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January 17, 2023

How To Collect Money From Past-Due Accounts: Best Practices To Ensure a Healthy Cashflow

Implementing processes to ensure a consistent money collection is integral to your dental practice’s financial health. In this guide, we discuss how to collect money from past-due accounts and mitigate your risk of losing out on revenue.

Payments, Office Operations, Forms, Patient Communication

Most dental care providers understand that collecting payment when presenting dental patient financing options is the key to cutting down on accounts receivable. After all, your dental practice is in the business of providing dental care, not credit.

However, patients tend to treat their dentists as credit providers instead of seeking patient financing services. In turn, most dental practices allow late payments because they don’t want to lose patients. When this happens, you will find that patients frequently walk out the door after receiving treatment with no payment plan in place to settle the outstanding amount.

The sections below discuss how to collect money from past-due accounts.

Formulate and Implement a Financial Policy

Before providing dental treatment, the patient should agree to your practice’s financial policy. This agreement should outline the acceptable payment types and the payment responsibilities of cash, check, credit card, and insurance patients. The agreement should also state when your office expects the payment. You can use digital forms from Dental Intelligence to allow for an easy way for patients to review and sign your financial policy.

Implement a Payment Collection System

Your dental practice can implement any collection system for pursuing unpaid invoices, provided that it complies with your state’s laws.

Under most dental offices’ payment policies, a patient account is due within 30 days. Under your financial policy, payments can also be due before the patient’s next dental appointment.

When the payment becomes due, your office should call the patient or send them a message to notify them that their account is overdue. Your team should document all communication with the patient and include the date and time of follow-up calls. Follow Ups allows team members to easily track which patients have past-due accounts and mark their call attempts.

Set a threshold amount for these notifications so that you don’t need to contact patients who owe small amounts, which can end up wasting valuable time and money. Most practices only contact patients owing $100 or more.  

You can also send a notification before the payment becomes due. For example, suppose you receive the explanation of benefits (EOB) letter 20 days after providing treatment. In this case, you can send the EOB letter and the first notice letter to the patient.

Once the payment becomes due, you can send the second notice letter or call the patient to notify them that their payment is due. Some dental practices send up to four notice letters.

Suppose the patient doesn’t pay the account within a specific period after receiving the fourth and final notice. In that case, you can refer the account to the collections attorney or agency for legal action.

The more frequently you bill, the more effective you can expect your collection process to be. For example, you can bill on a net-10 or a net-15 basis instead of waiting 30 days.

When contacting a patient, use the communication method they prefer, such as mail, text, or phone. Consider using Dental Intelligence Payments to allow for an easy collection process where patients can pay via text or email. That way they don’t have to mail a check or make a phone call.

If the patient settles the amount at any point during the collections process, send them a zero-balance letter indicating that you received the payment.

As a business owner, you can implement any collections process that complies with the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).  

You should implement the same process for all past-due accounts. Extending a special courtesy to some patients can significantly affect your accounts receivable management.

Offer Flexible Payment Options

The longer a payment is due, the more challenging it becomes to collect. Offering flexible payment options can make settling the amount easier for the patient. These financing options include a payment plan, financing, or a membership program.

At Dental Intelligence, we offer a dental financing solution in partnership with Wisetack, which makes the collection easier for you and your patients.

Our patient financing options allows you to receive the funds in your bank account, while Wisetack settles the account with the patient over time. In other words, you provide a flexible payment option without assuming any risk.

Schedule a demo with Dental Intelligence today to learn how to collect money from past-due accounts.

Dental Intelligence

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January 17, 2023

How to Bill Medical Insurance for Dental Procedures 

According to the CareQuest Institute for Oral Health, 77 million adults do not currently have dental insurance. That’s 29.8% of the population, which means three times more adults lack dental insurance than lack a medical plan — and that’s not including those who have either lapsed or used up their dental coverage.

Office Operations, Payments, Treatment Acceptance

For some procedures, your practice can bill a patient’s medical insurance instead of their dental insurance. This leads to a common question: how to bill medical insurance for dental procedures, or whether it’s even possible. And the answer is a resounding “Maybe!” 

As any dental practice leader knows, cross-coding can be confusing and time-consuming—and there’s always the chance of the insurance company denying the claim, even after you go through the trouble. But there is overlap in the two systems of coverage, and there are techniques your practice can use to help ensure that insurance covers your patients’ procedures. 

It’s as simple as tying the dental procedure back to a medical diagnosis and demonstrating the link to dental care. 

What Are the Concerns with Billing for Dental Procedures? 

On the one hand, you have dental insurance, which does something very specific — and on the other, you have health insurance, which rejects many claims. You’re trying to get your patient’s care to the place where the two systems overlap. That will result in better outcomes, more reimbursement for your patient, and the satisfaction of a patient well-cared for. 

Of course, dental procedures and treatments billed to health coverage must be medically necessary and use a proper medical code. 

Always make sure you’re clear about why the medical treatments are necessary and identify them with the correct ICD-10 and CPT codes. If you’re billing Medicare, make sure to use the CMS-1500 form.

Any insurance company will reject incorrectly filed or coded claims. It’s important to be sure your procedure is covered before making the attempt. 

What Types of Treatments Does Medical Insurance Cover?

Broadly, there are four categories in which you may have a medical claim: 

  • Diagnostic: These are any tests, consults, exams or medical imaging that lead back to a source of pain. You would not be able to bill for your patient’s annual wellness x-rays, but medical insurance would cover specific x-rays to determine the location of an infection. Thorough diagnostic tools like Panorex x-rays, CBCT, and Tomography are all procedures that may qualify for medical reimbursement. 
  • Traumatic: Patients’ medical insurance may cover treatment for dental injuries. In general, mouth trauma will often require medical diagnosis, so medical insurance may cover it.
  • Surgical: You may be able to submit extractions, removals, implants and biopsies, and many other preventive procedures for reimbursement by medical insurance. Likewise, a situation where dental issues delay other treatments may call for coverage. For instance, if your patient can’t undergo chemotherapy because of a dental issue, then an oral health exam becomes medically necessary.
  • Non-Surgical Procedures: Conditions that aren’t traumatic but nonetheless require a medical diagnosis or referral, such as draining an abscess or treating an infection. Cysts, TMJ, and chemotherapy can all have effects throughout the body, and medical coverage could even extend to sleep apnea treatment and dental implants. 

What Are Dental Billing Best Practices? 

The categories above should cover almost all relevant circumstances, although your patient’s Explanation of Benefits (EOB) may help to clarify the particulars. In fact, some coverage might even extend to services that only holistically benefit their oral care, like counseling for improving nutrition or quitting tobacco. 

Remember, the standard your dental practice needs to meet involves showing necessity for the treatment and connecting it to a medical diagnosis. 

Even when you know how to bill medical insurance for dental procedures, patients often still have copays or partial payments out of pocket. To simplify payments for dental care, try Dental Intel’s all-in-one payment solution. With flexible payment options and the ability to remind patients about their bill via text or email, practices collect about $25,000 more per month.

Dental Solutions That Align With Your Patients’ Needs 

Now that you know how to bill medical insurance for dental procedures, you can train your billing department and improve patient care by seeking reimbursement from medical insurance, not just dental insurance. Ultimately, it’s about making sure your patient’s care has adequate coverage, wherever it comes from.

Cross-coding to medical insurance can save your patients money, and that’s a win for your practice. At Dental Intelligence, we offer digital tools to simplify team communication and patient billing to increase dental office collections. Contact us today to schedule a demo and explore how we can improve your dental practice operations.

Dental Intelligence

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January 17, 2023

What to Include in New Patient Dental Forms

Dental offices have a variety of approaches to new patient dental forms, but intake always comes down to one thing: intuitive and clear forms that collect all the information your practice needs.

New Patient Acquisition, Forms, Patient Experience, Office Operations

Choosing forms with fields for insurance information, patient data, and other details makes your new patients’ first impression of your practice a positive one. Great patient care depends on your knowledge of your patients, so start the patient relationship with customized intake forms.

What Should You Include in New Patient Information Forms?

Use your new patient dental forms to get full coverage information, consents and waivers, dental histories, and more.

  • General information and preferences: It’s good to get the basics upfront, but this is also a great time to ask about the little touches that make your new patients feel happy, at ease, and at home from that first “hello.”
  • Insurance information: Get the patient's dental and medical insurance coverage since medical insurance can cover some diagnostic tests and treatments.
  • HIPAA and consent forms, and any waivers.
  • Dental and medical histories to get a fuller picture of the concerns your patient may be bringing with them. This will ease every step of their journey, from the first appointment to more in-depth treatment plans.

Your digital and paper record of a patient can tell you a lot more than just the date of their last appointment. Big life changes, such as gaining new dependents or changing jobs, impact your patients’ medical care, and it’s important to capture those changes as quickly as possible. Check in with your existing patients at the beginning of their appointment to see if they need to update their information.

Beyond the Intake Forms: What to Include in Your New Patient Welcome Packet

Your dental practice should make your patient feel understood and taken care of as soon as you make that first contact with a lead or referral. First impressions matter, and that means the intake process is about more than just collecting patient data and payment information. Introducing a new patient to your services should feel friendly, easy, and comprehensive.

Our suggestion for a patient welcome packet, in addition to the required new patient dental forms, includes the following:

  • A welcome letter explaining your practice, journey, and qualifications. Patients want to know the dentist behind the mask, and that includes seeing a more personal and human side of the dentist. Plus, it makes patients feel valued and friendly from their first interaction.
  • A walkthrough of their first appointment—what new patients can expect, what to bring, and how it will work. It’s no secret that people get nervous about going to the dentist. By allowing them to visualize their visit, you can ease a lot of those unnecessary nerves.
  • Introductions to the staff, including the front desk administrator who’ll conduct their intake, will make your office feel like the welcoming second home you want it to be.
  • Any other procedures specific to your business, such as COVID-19 safety information.
  • A simple cost sheet shows transparency and ensures there are no surprises. In today’s complex medical system, you will gain a lot of goodwill simply by being upfront about costs for each treatment and how you calculate them.

Why Digitize Your New Patient Registration Forms?

In the new patient registration process, patient paperwork is unavoidably the focus. Some patients may balk at filling out long forms, but by making the process fun and easy—and digital—you’re able to capture more and better information than with handwritten forms.

Remember, you’re collecting information as the basis of a records file that will follow this patient through the rest of their life. Even physical forms, if they’re of high quality, can make the data entry process a breeze. Dental Intelligence offers your dental practice a variety of forms and services for just this purpose. Dental Intelligence’s forms for dental practices can help you collect, arrange, and access your patient data digitally to eliminate paper forms and save time for your patients and staff.

You will want to keep these forms in hard copy at the front desk so you’re ready for walk-ins or patients that need another shot at completing them. Or consider installing a Kiosk, so patients can fill out their forms digitally in office.

New Patient Forms to Streaming Intake for Your Practice

At Dental Intelligence, we’re passionate about making your patients’ every visit a good one. The best way to do that is to balance speed and comprehensiveness with your new patient dental forms. Visit the Dental Intelligence website to learn more about dental referral forms, and schedule a demo with our team to learn how you can customize intake forms to fit your practice.

Dental Intelligence

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January 17, 2023

The Simple Truth About Dental Revenue Cycle Management 

After a long day of providing quality dental care to your patients, you don't want to have to worry about your revenue. Here's some tips on how to stay on top of your revenue cycle.

Payments, Office Operations, Production

Patient care comes first. But if your dental practice doesn't earn revenue, it can't stay in business. Correspondence with insurance companies can lag, your staff can make errors throughout the reimbursement processes, and in-house systems or methods can become outdated.  

The important thing is to remember that revenue is a cycle, and managing that cycle — revenue cycle management, or RCM — is about setting the stage for growth in everything that you do. 

Your dental revenue cycle management is all about increasing revenue and cutting costs as your practice grows. That means taking steps to make sure your patient's health journey, from approach to treatment to recovery, is as painless and efficient as possible. The fewer touches, the better — and that means getting things right the first time. 

Here, you'll learn several strategies to keep your revenue cycle growing strong without costing your patients so much as an extra minute. As you'll see, it's all about becoming and staying as efficient as possible. 

Cutting Costs in Patient Acquisition and Retention 

An insurance company will reject claims without correct information, and it's the small details like this you'll have the most trouble tracking down after the fact. Make sure you have the patient information you're going to need throughout the process by reviewing your intake paperwork and procedures. Digital forms make it easy for patients to submit their information. At every appointment, make sure to confirm with each patient that their information is still correct.  

Be realistic about your marketing and the information prospective patients would be looking for: 

  • How much time do you and your staff spend on getting new patients?  
  • Is your social media abuzz? Do you spend time nurturing those relationships?
  • Is your Google Business Listing completely up to date?
  • Are your practice's street address, website, and phone number correct and easy to find? 

Finally, verify patients' coverage and benefits well before any scheduled appointments. Be transparent with your fee schedules and procedures, including your patient's responsibilities, so there are no surprises for either your patient or your practice.  

Following Billing Best Practices 

Look at your billing systems and procedures themselves. See where things are getting caught up in the process, where mistakes are being made, and make note of any time the process slows down. Making sure your systems are up to date — and there are no obvious time-wasting areas — is a perfect first step in maximizing your RCM. 

Dental insurance claims can account for a great deal of your practice's revenue, so streamlining your billing processes is absolutely necessary to enhance your RCM. 

Everything your practice has done or undergone to the present day provides data you can use to figure out a better solution. If you're constantly reaching out to patients with past-due bills, try Dental Intelligence's seamless digital dental payments. You can let patients know their bill is due via text or email and accept major debit and credit cards, Apple Pay, and HSA. Dental practices that use Dental Intel Payments get paid an average of 12 days faster and collect $25,000 more within the first three months.

Maintaining a Full Schedule 

Keeping patients coming in the door isn't just good for your practice; it's good for your accounts receivable department and dental revenue cycle management. That's why it's important to stay on top of appointments, follow-ups, annual visits, and all the procedures your patients are too busy to schedule "right now," but they promise to get back to you with dates. 

It's not just about booking the visit, either — you'll want to take every opportunity you can to speed up the process of getting your patients into your practice, treating them, and collecting payment. For scheduling and cash flow purposes, that means: 

  • Getting data into your system as cleanly and easily as possible 
  • Making it easy for your staff to send patient data where it needs to go
  • Ensuring you have everything you need already set up before a patient enters the office.

By staying on top of your schedule, filling in dead spots, asking for referrals, and passing on your business card, you can turn every patient interaction into a chance to mint a new brand ambassador. 

One way you can fill holes in your schedule is by allowing patients to book online using Dental Intelligence Online Scheduling. Let patients book when is convenient for them, while allowing you to keep control of your schedule.

Dental Solutions for Your Practice and Patients 

Dental revenue cycle management is an important way to keep your business going strong. When you learn how to get paid faster, you can stop spending time chasing past-due payments and more time filling your schedule and caring for patients. At Dental Intelligence, we help streamline your practice with a suite of digital tools. Schedule a demo with us today to learn how you can make the dental revenue cycle more manageable.

Dental Intelligence

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January 17, 2023

Everything You Need to Know About the ADA Dental Claim Form

The American Dental Association (ADA) Dental Claim Form is one of your major responsibilities when offering or performing dental services. After all, you can’t get paid without it, and patients can’t be reimbursed.

Forms, Payments, Patient Experience

ADA policy promotes the use of the most current version of the ADA Dental Claim Form by dentists and payers when reporting services to a patient’s dental insurance plan. ADA Council on Dental Benefit Programs created the form by working with internal and external knowledge experts. Knowing what information this form collects and training your staff is crucial to your practice’s revenue and patient care.

The Current Version of the ADA Dental Claim Form

In the current version of the ADA dental claim1, the ADA tried to make things as easy as possible. Staff should be able to complete this form quickly and easily—after all, it’s how your practice pays the bills, so it should be as painless as possible.

Here are some specific items to make sure you’ve properly identified and filled out.

  • Boxes 1-2 relate to the type of service and preauthorization number if needed.
  • Boxes 3-17 have to do with the patient’s insurance and dental benefit plan information.
  • Boxes 18-23 require data from the patient’s intake forms (name, address, etc.)
  • Procedure date (Box 24) is the date your practice performed the procedure.
  • General area of oral cavity (Box 25) is arranged by numeric codes rather than abbreviations.
  • Tooth system (Box 26) — “JP,” or the American system, follows the ADA’s Universal Tooth Designation System with a combination of letters and numbers.
  • Procedure codes (Box 29) — add the most appropriate Current Dental Terminology (CDT) procedure code.
  • Description of service (Box 30) — this written description should match the code in Box 29.
  • Fee (Box 31) — should reflect the usual and customary rate, not the final negotiated rate.

What Do You Need to Know About the ADA Dental Claim Form?

While it’s a process your staff may complete hundreds of times a day, it’s still worth double-checking to make sure everything is perfect with your ADA claim submission to ensure prompt reimbursement. Late payments can be a hassle, and late reimbursements could be devastating to your patients and their families. 

Learn more about digital forms by Dental Intelligence to collect the important information in a clear and effective way to make filling out the form as simple as possible. Here are some tips and best practices when filling out the ADA dental claim form:

  • Note that Boxes 24-32 may require special instructions in cases where the procedure code (Box 29) is “D9985 Sales Tax.”
  • Best practices require you to use JP codes for your tooth system (Box 26), but a value set is available2 to make mapping international JO numeric codes easy.
  • Patients may not always understand the finer points of medical billing, so it’s important to make sure your coding is clear, transparent, and understandable. Patients should feel their needs are met, from the first phone call to the last procedure. Being open about your billing procedures and codes is a great way to support that.
  • Make sure to file your claim on time. Delays will only interrupt the payment process and make it harder to complete the forms accurately. You and your staff shouldn’t have to remember everything — not with Dental Intelligence and a full suite of billing tools at your command. 
  • Make sure the description of service (Box 30) duplicates the procedure code (Box 29) as closely as possible so the insurance provider doesn’t reject the claim. Insurance companies aren’t doing their job if they’re not looking for ways to reject or downgrade claims.  

Dental Solutions to Save You Time

The ADA dental claim form shouldn’t be difficult to complete, but it can get complicated. To speed things up, learn more about dental medical history forms with Dental Intelligence to evaluate your current forms.

With Dental Intelligence software, you can conveniently capture patient data sets and simplify the process of submitting claims. Dental Intelligence makes it easy to see exactly where you need to go — and how you’re going to get there — with a full suite of tools, from marketing to appointment setting to payments. Schedule a demo with us today to learn more!

Resources

1 ADA Dental Claim

2 ADA Value Set

Dental Intelligence

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January 13, 2023

Best Practices To Improve Your Dental Case Acceptance Rate

Getting patients to accept treatment plans can be challenging in today's world for a variety of reasons. Patients are concerned about the costs, fear, and the time commitment. Here are a few tips on how to make it easier for patient to say "yes" to treatment.

New Patient Acquisition, Treatment Acceptance, Production

Dental practices face several obstacles to delivering high-quality care, such as getting patients to accept treatment plans. According to a recent Levin Group practice survey1, case acceptance rates for two-thirds of U.S. dental practices fall between 20% and 50%, which is well below the common industry target of 90%. 

It’s easy to get stuck on numbers and statistics, but the most effective way of improving your practice’s case acceptance rate is to understand what makes patients refuse treatment. By having a system in place that promotes treatment acceptance, you can improve the client experience while keeping your practice thriving.

Create a Positive Initial Impression

A new patient will already have an impression of a dental practice before walking through the door. Prospective clients will frequently use the internet to find a dentist in their area. Having a well-designed and appealing website is essential to attracting new patients and creating a strong impression of professionalism, care, and trustworthiness.

You can also employ strategies such as calling patients before their scheduled appointment to confirm and say that you’re looking forward to meeting them. This generally creates goodwill by showing the patient that the practice cares about individuals, but employing this strategy means walking the fine line between caring and spamming. 

Online reviews also play a big part in a patient’s initial impression of you and your practice.

The better the patient’s impression of the practice and its staff, the more responsive they will be to proposed treatment plans.

Hone Your Dental Case Presentation Skills

Every dentist approaches dental case presentation differently, with varying levels of success. Having an established template for most treatment options and role-playing case presentations can help dentists get practice at delivering vital information about dental treatment without overwhelming the patient and resulting in a higher case acceptance rate. 

A good dental presentation will contain the following aspects:

  • A clear outline of the problem and its potential implications if left unaddressed. Many patients don’t present symptoms, so they’re not urgently seeking care. Most will try a “wait and see” approach and only request treatment when the condition worsens. Dentists can circumvent this by explicitly stating how the condition can worsen if left untreated and how early intervention is often less painful and more affordable than emergency care. 
  • Visual aids to help the patient understand the issue and the proposed treatment. You can even give them a copy of their completed dental treatment plan by Dental Intelligence, which they can refer to later.
  • A detailed explanation of the proposed treatment, including the benefits of treatment and potential risks. The dentist should explain how the treatment will address the specific concern and present alternative options and their risks and benefits. 
  • A way to confirm patient understanding — many patients will say they understand when, in fact, they don’t. This miscommunication leads to faulty assumptions that affect the patient’s final decision.
  • Simple and concise language without too many medical terms. Dentists can also use shorter sentences or break the presentation into blocks, allowing the patient time to understand and ask questions before moving forward. 

Understand Patient Concerns

Patients typically have three barriers to accepting treatment: financial concerns, fear, and the time commitment associated with longer treatments. Dental practices should have plans in place to address each of these roadblocks while still taking them seriously — a dentist that scoffs at a patient’s nervousness will quickly lose patients.

For most patients, the main concern is cost, especially for larger treatments if the patient doesn’t perceive them as urgent. Treatment coordinators should provide various payment options and inform patients of these options during the case presentation. Consider offering patient financing options from Dental Intelligence through Wisetack.

As finances are generally a prickly subject, it’s vital to train your team to handle these issues compassionately and effectively. Common techniques include reassuring patients that costs are a common concern, that they are not alone, and that the dental practice is ready and willing to help them get the care they need and deserve. 

Follow Up After the Consultation

Wherever possible, treatment coordinators should schedule the appointment before the patient leaves the practice. 

Patients that don’t have a fixed appointment will start worrying about their options and whether they really need the treatment. This is especially true for non-emergency patients, who may not experience any pain or difficulty due to their condition. A friendly follow-up can reassure patients that they’ve made the right choice. If necessary, practices can schedule a follow-up consultation to address the patient’s reluctance and book the treatment. 

If you have questions on how to improve treatment acceptance and take your practice to the next level, get in touch with us at Dental Intelligence and book a demo today!

Resources

1 Dental Economics