Outsource Strategies International (OSI), based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is an established medical billing and coding company with significant experience. They offer a comprehensive suite of dental billing services for dental practices to successfully bill for their services and assist with on-time reimbursement.

Today’s podcast by Amber Darst, our Dental Insurance Coordinator, is a part 2 for earlier podcast: Strategies to Boost Dental Practice Revenue.

In This Episode:

00:04: Introduction to strategies for boosting dental practice revenue

Talking about the first podcast, where a set of strategies were discussed for boosting dental practice revenue.

 00:24: Educate patients on insurance benefits and providing financial consultations

As there are different components to an insurance policy and oftentimes patients do not understand how their policies work, it would be very helpful if patients are educated upon their insurance benefits, by providing them with financial consultations and letting them know how the insurance policies work.

 02:35: Listen to your patients

Make sure that you listen to your patient concerns and educate them on the treatments that they need to done.

 03:21: Follow up on pending treatments

Due to several reasons patients might leave the office without scheduling their return appointment for treatment. In such cases, it is very important to follow up with the patients and get them back in their pending treatment.

 04:59: Fees Scheduling

Review your office fee schedule and make sure that you're adjusting it to comparative rates in your demographic.

 05:47: Negotiation is very important

Be negotiating is another big strategy towards boosting dental practice revenue.

 07:26: Advertising

In this digital world, marketing your business the proper way is everything. As everyone searches the web for everything they need and finding a dentist is included in those searches, build a well laid out, friendly, inviting, informative website, which can make all the difference.

Hey, this is Amber Darst, Dental Insurance Co-ordinator for Manage Outsourced Solutions.

I wanted to do kind of a part 2 to an earlier podcast I had done on strategies for boosting dental practice revenue. I think every practice is always looking for ways to improve their bottom dollar, keep their patients happy, and also keep the office staff as stress-free as possible.

So the first thing I want to touch on is educating your patients on their insurance benefits and providing them with financial consultations. I was actually an insurance coordinator for a dental practice for several years before starting with Managed Outsourced Solutions and I spent the majority of my days talking with patients in my office. I would go over their financial outlook regarding their treatment plans and I would also review their insurance plans with them. Oftentimes, patients do not understand how their policies work. There are so many different components to an insurance policy and obviously everyone's different; there's downgrades, waiting periods, deductibles, maximums. There's so much to it and it can be very confusing. I even found that a lot of patients didn't understand that their cleanings were actually not “free”, that they had to have the funds remaining in their maximum benefits in order for them to receive the 100 percent payment on that. So, it was very important to me to sit down and educate them and let them know how the insurance policies work. I also educate them on what their plan covers and what they can expect to pay out of pocket as well as on why coming up with a plan to maximize their benefits is very important. So when I say a plan to maximize their benefits, I'm talking about, for instance, if they have several treatments that need to be done, you can kind of go through and see where to begin and take a look at their calendar years, see how much they have left to work with, and things of that nature, and then make a plan from there and what order they should go and went to start this treatment. Now, of course, you always want to make sure that their health is the top priority. Sometimes treatment cannot wait and it doesn't matter you know whether the insurance is perfect in that moment or not. It's important to educate your patients on this and let them know that money-saving tactics are very helpful, but taking care of their health in the way that the doctor has recommended is always more important.

So this ties hand in hand on what I want to mention next, which is taking time with your patients. When the patient enters the practice, the front office staff should always take the time to greet them and then once back in the chair, make sure that you listen to any other concerns they may have and also educate them on the treatments that they need done. And if it's a two- or more step procedure, inform them of this so that they know what to expect and can plan accordingly. Patients shouldn't feel like they're in an express checkout. A lot of people are actually afraid of the dentist, so taking that extra time to talk with them and letting them know that their concerns are important will help them feel more at ease about coming back for that planned treatment.

Also, always follow up on pending treatment. A lot of patients leave the office without scheduling their return appointment for treatment. Different reasons for this: sometimes they need to go home and check their schedules, maybe they're in a rush and they need to get back to work, or they may just be simply put off wanting to come back to the office. So these things happen and it happens frequently. So in these cases, make sure you keep a record of who is needing to come back for treatment and follow up with them routinely as a reminder. I have found that some people honestly just forget and then they really appreciate that call letting them know that they still need to return for treatment. And then sometimes you may run into the ones that say, “Oh no, no, it's okay, it's not bothering me that bad, I don't need to come in for that right now”. I always made sure to educate them at that point as well and let them know I understand that it may not be hurting you at this point, but it eventually will and you definitely don't want it to get to that point. That's opening up the door for it to turn into a bigger issue, which is you know not something that anybody would want to deal with. What may start out as a simple filling has now potentially turned into a root canal and a crown. So whether they're just wanting to avoid the actual treatment itself or the cost, both go up the longer that you let something go. So again, educating and encouraging when you're following up with the patients to get them back in their pending treatment, is very important.

Okay, so let's talk about the financial side of things a bit here. As I had mentioned in my previous podcast, fees schedules are very important. There's the office fee schedule and then there's the negotiated fees with your contracted insurances. First of all, you want to review your office fee schedule and make sure that you're adjusting it to comparative rates in your area. Some practices don't up their fees for several years and they're definitely losing out on a lot of money. So routinely increasing your fees is smart. Hiring a company to review your fees for you and set a proper fee schedule is always a great option. They are professionals at it and they would get your fees set appropriately according to your demographics.

Also, renegotiating is another big one. You really should review your write-offs. You may be losing way more than you should be. Insurances do not like to negotiate, but it’s sure right to push for it and again, there are actually companies who are great at doing the leg work for you in this and help you bring in much more money through lowering those write-offs. And also make sure when you’re billing the insurances, always bill your office fee on the claim. Never send the contracted fee out on the claim. When you go to pull reports, this is going to allow you to see the amount that is being wrote off. It just gives you a better picture of what's going on financially after the insurance pays their part. Another reason I would like to point out as well for billing the office fee, is it can greatly affect your secondary payment that would be coming in. Some secondary insurance plans are set to pay the difference left over from what was billed and what was paid by the primary. So if a lower amount is billed due to noting the contracted fee, they will not pick up any extra payment because they consider that that you have received the full payment from the primary, so there's nothing left for them to pick up, which is not accurate. One more reason to bill the office fee and not the contracted fee, is actually a lot of larger carriers analyze the billed amounts on the claims. It helps them to set the you see our fee is in each region. So by billing out the contracted fee you can actually affect that and cause a lower fee average for your area.

The last point I want to touch on is advertising. Never underestimate the power of a good website. This is the day we live in. Everyone searches the web for everything they need and finding a dentist is included in those searches. So well laid-out, friendly, inviting, informative website can make all the difference -- something pleasing to look at but also not difficult to navigate. There are a lot of ways to make it enticing and it will prove worthy when you see how much traffic you gain just due to marketing your business the proper way.

Running a successful business doesn't have to be hard. You have a lot on your hands and patient care is definitely the number one priority. By allowing a business like Manage Outsourced Solutions to take that extra back office work off of your hands, you can focus more on that patient care. You will be surprised at how much smoother things run when your staff is less stressed and the patients get the time and attention they deserve. And not only can we handle the billing and insurance side of things, we even have a dedicated team that are experts with search engine optimization, web design and web management, that can take your business to the next level. So you do what you do best and we can do the rest, and I really appreciate you listening in today.

Thanks.