As an all-star dental office manager, you’re always looking for ways to improve the efficiency of your dental practice. And whenever the end of the year approaches, your mind is spinning with all of the tasks you need to accomplish to ensure maximum productivity for the next year.
There’s so much to remember as a dental office manager when it comes to annual responsibilities, where do you begin?
DCS is a trusted dental billing partner, and dental office managers’ number one fan. Through our years of helping dental teams optimize their revenue cycle, we’ve seen just how much dental office managers take on. They’re the heart of the dental practice.
That’s why in this article, we’re sharing 5 detailed annual responsibilities for a busy dental office manager. This article will help you keep track of what exactly you need to complete at the end of every year in order to gear up for a productive new year. You’ll walk away from this article feeling less overwhelmed with your annual tasks, and more confident that you are a leader at your dental practice.
1. Evaluate your forms
As a dental provider, your practice has to use and maintain a plethora of forms. You’re a place of business that needs things in writing! So the end of the year is a great time to look through all of your forms and see if they are up to date, and still reflect your dental practice. A few of these forms include:
Financial agreement or financial arrangement form
Practice financial policy form
Insurance policy & signature on file form
Assignment of insurance benefits documentation
Insurance form (ADA 2019)
Patient statement form
Release of information form
Bone graft record keeping (organized by year and name)
Patient collections letters
These are just a few of the important forms that most dental professionals use every day. If you have more forms, be sure to include them in your annual task checklist.
2. Evaluate and negotiate your fees
As inflation rises, your fees should as well. The end of the year is a great time to do research on your fees, and the median UCR fees in your area and decide the next steps. A general dental practice’s fees should be in the 70th to the 80th percentile and specialists in the 85th or higher percentile.
This is also a great time to renegotiate your in-network contract and fee schedule with insurance companies. Many dentists think that negotiating with insurance companies is impossible, but it’s not. When you enter a contract with an insurance company, you will have the opportunity to rework your fees before the contract ends, and have more say in setting reasonable and fair rates.
You shouldn’t go into a negotiation with an insurance company blind. Make sure you’ve done research on what a reasonable increase in your fees would be. Remember - it never hurts to ask! So many dental practices don’t even bother with negotiations. The worst the insurance company can say is no.
3. Review your SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) and HR tasks
SOPs can be so useful in a dental practice. Having a documented process for every task, especially administrative ones, can help your dental practice run more efficiently. It can also clear up roles and responsibilities among your dental team.
But SOPs can be harmful if they aren’t updated every year. Whenever we hear the phrase “that’s just the way it’s always been done,” our alarms go off! Updating your SOPs is how you stay innovative and work smarter. That means if a new way of doing something - let’s say a new way of scheduling patients - arises, you should try to adopt it! If your budget and team’s bandwidth allow, finding new and more efficient ways to do things increases productivity.
This might even mean reviewing your SOPs for Human Resources. How does your payroll process work? Is there an easier way or better platform on which to pay your employees?
Maybe you have an employee bonus system that needs updating - this is the time to do so! You can also revisit 401k options and employee benefit packages.
4. End-of-year reports
Next, take a look at your numbers. How did the practice perform?
Review the following reports in your dental practice management software:
Gross Production & Collection report monthly breakdown
Net Production & Collection report monthly breakdown
Insurance write-off report by carrier or plan
Adjustments to productions (+ or -) report by type production discounts (for each reason)
Adjustment to collections (+ or -) report by type collection adjustments (negative and positive)
Outstanding claims by the company for 0+ days and another report for >30 days
Account Aging Report (the last day of the year after all posting is completed)
These numbers will help you see where there have been highs or lows in production. Is there a time of year that is particularly slow? What can your team do to combat that? Are you collecting what you’re producing? Did your team struggle with regularly working the insurance aging report this year? What else has been added to their plate?
There are many ways to interpret the data you’ll gather from these reports. Present your key takeaways to your team in order to create a plan to improve and plan for a great next year.
5. Team meeting agenda
Speaking of making a plan for the next year - create an agenda for an end-of-year meeting with your dental team. This is a great time to present the information you learned from the reports we mentioned above. It’s also a good time to cover the following with your team:
Discussion of the holidays and vacations in 2023
Schedule/production goals for 2023
Challenges from this past year
Brainstorm ideas to increase new patient numbers and what additional services you could provide
We have these types of meetings at DCS too. This is a great time to keep your team motivated and reinvigorated for the new year. This meeting will also help your team feel closer, especially by celebrating the wins and highs from the previous year.
Ready to continue running a successful dental practice?
Dental office managers always take on so much responsibility at the practice. And these specific annual responsibilities are what sets you up for success every year. You can now feel confident in how you end each year, knowing what responsibilities need to be completed before everyone leaves for the holidays.
DCS is a friend to dental teams who want to deliver an excellent dental experience for patients. Our revenue cycle management services help your numbers rise, while also giving your team more time to spend with patients.
To learn more about how our services can make your dental practice successful, schedule a call with one of our experts.