It’s no secret that the front office team of any dental practice is running the show that makes a dental practice profitable. They handle the volume of patients that come in, make sure schedules are organized and in place, and check that each patient’s insurance benefits are up to date and active. The dentist can’t perform services and get paid easily if these tasks aren’t completed.
Whether you’re a dentist or office manager reading this - you know you want this administrative team to help keep the practice in tip-top shape. This means you want the team to have systems that are productive and profitable. Dental ClaimSupport is an outsourced dental billing company that works directly with administrative teams daily to help improve these systems.
What are the traits of an effective dental office team? To find out, you don’t have to lurk near the office watching their every move. You can see it in the numbers, and that’s what our remote billers see even though they are not in the office.
In this article, we will share 6 signs you have the most productive and profitable dental administrative team so that you can evaluate not only the quality of their work but the financial health of your dental practice.
1. There are clear systems and processes for everything
A team that works together toward your goals brings true value to any place of business. When there are specific steps in place for how to handle billing, scheduling, insurance verification, and check-in, the practice will run smoothly. The day will feel less chaotic and everyone on the administrative team knows what their responsibilities are.
A streamlined insurance verification process
Finding a good system for insurance verification can be hard for dental teams. It’s the least favorite part of the process for many people because it can feel a little mindless and repetitive. However, if your team can get this right, it can set the tone for the rest of the billing process.
It also keeps your patients happy with clear communication about their insurance benefits. If your team leaves plenty of time between the initial call from the patient, scheduling the appointment to verify their insurance benefits before their visit, you’re in good shape.
They should also have a form that they use to make the process of insurance verification quick and efficient. And insurance verification software will also help with efficiency.
Your team should always know the full breakdown of the patient’s benefits so that they can communicate what the patient’s out-of-pocket expense will be, and what you can expect to collect from the insurance claim they will file after the appointment.
A streamlined billing process
Everyone has a different way of doing things when it comes to dental billing. And every office is different! The goal is that your office has a great system that works to fully collect the revenue you’ve worked for.
This means whoever is working on billing (or anything, really!) has a schedule that they follow almost every day. They have a time of day they’ve planned for posting payments in the dental software and a separate time where they are working the aging report.
They post EFT payments at least weekly, knowing paper checks and bank deposits have daily deadlines. EFTs, as we all know, don’t hit bank accounts daily for all insurance companies or even when they state they do online.
So, it is not efficient to log in to web portals every single day looking for EFTs over and over again. The goal is to maintain them within the week the funds are released.
A team that notes any extra steps in the workflow and removes them saves you time and money. As we said, every office is different when it comes to its processes and systems, so as long as they’re organized, make sense, and worked through every day, your admin team is in a good place.
2. There are designated billers for both insurance AND patient billing
Your dental office needs to be set up in a way where everyone’s roles and responsibilities are clear. This means no one is overwhelmed, and no one is overworked.
If this is the case for your practice, it could be causing not only burnout from your employees but also poor performances. Your billing functions are too important to lose to burnout. You need one person in charge of insurance billing, and another in charge of patient billing.
You either have an insurance coordinator or have outsourced to a dental billing company
Whether this person is an outsourced dental biller or an in-house insurance coordinator, you need one person accountable for making sure insurance billing is done correctly. Whether you have one person or a team, their expertise and time dedicated to insurance billing will minimize problems on claims, and help your practice bring in more money.
When you have the right resources solely focused on insurance claims, they will be able to spend their entire day getting claims submitted to insurance accurately and timely, while also researching and fighting to appeal previously denied claims. All of this is its own full-time job, so it should not fall onto someone who is responsible for other tasks around the office.
You have kept your patient billing in-house, and have one person responsible for this
The billing portion of your patient’s dental visit is the most sensitive issue for many patients, even though their insurance will pay for a portion of it. Whoever is in charge of patient billing needs to effectively communicate to the patient what their benefits do and do not cover.
Also, ideally, right after a procedure, you should collect the patient’s portion, then you will receive the other portion from insurance within a few weeks. They should be prepared to pay this because your patient biller should have given them an approximate price before the procedure when their benefits were being verified.
If this process goes smoothly, your patients won’t have any complaints when it comes to paying their portion.
3. The practice collections percentage is 98% or higher, and the insurance aging report is 10% or lower
You can always evaluate your team’s performance by looking at numbers. If insurance collections are 98% or higher, and the insurance aging report is 10% or lower, you’re in a good place. These numbers are a reflection of how your billing team is working.
You are collecting consistently from insurance companies
Your insurance collections percentage is how much your submitted claims are being reimbursed by insurance. Insurance collections can make up over half of your entire revenue, so it’s important that this number is close to 100%.
Total Collections / Total Adjusted Production = Collections Percentage
All of these signs that you have a profitable admin team connect together. If you have clear systems in place, and you have the insurance billing expertise you need, your collections percentage should be close to 100%.
Someone is continuously working the insurance aging report
Your aging report is a list of outstanding claims. Most dental claims are paid and should be received in your office within two weeks. The claims can be shown on the insurance company website immediately or within 48-72 hours, depending on the insurance company.
Someone (likely your insurance biller) needs to regularly go through this aging report, working to resolve the unpaid claims. This means they are calling up the insurance company to appeal claims, and doing research to figure out why it was denied in the first place.
A common mistake insurance coordinators make is just resending denied claims instead of calling insurance companies to find what they need to pay the claim. Simply resubmitting the same claims will not get them paid.
There’s likely a reason the claim was not paid originally that needs to be addressed and resubmission while noting what you need to close such claims in the future will be much more effective.
4. The schedule is always full
Even though you’re a healthcare provider, you’re still a place of business. You need customers – or in this case, patients! Your schedule needs to keep you productively busy every day. This means your admin team is taking steps to fill the dental chair.
Someone is taking the time to follow up on unscheduled treatments
Unscheduled treatments are both good health care and revenue opportunities. You may have many patients who have come in and have a treatment plan that requires them to come in again. And the patient has not yet scheduled a time to return for treatment.
This list of patients is who you should be looking into for calling.
Someone is following up with patients on their insurance benefits
Unfortunately, most patients don’t understand how their insurance benefits work. It becomes your job to explain how to use their benefits in a way that can help not just themselves, but also the practice.
Annual maximum insurance benefits don’t roll over to the next year. If your patient doesn’t use it, they lose it. So your team needs to explain how patients can take full advantage or “max out” the full amount insurance will pay. For example, if your patient has a maximum amount of coverage, typically around $1,500 per year. If they only use $200 of it in one year, the difference of $1,300 is gone.
Helping your patients be strategic about dividing up their benefits maximum to help them save money is truly the most logical way to get them in the chair, especially before the end of the year.
5. There is high, consistent patient retention
Have you seen a drop-off in patients you used to regularly see? Have you noticed more free time in your day in the past few months? If the answer is no to both of these questions, your practice is probably retaining patients well. If the answer was yes… well, that’s why we’re writing this article, to help you figure it out!
You are seeing a lot of the same patients come in for their annual appointments
Not only will your well-run practice have plenty of new patients coming in. You’ll recognize a good number of returning patients who come in regularly for their routine appointments, and all of their oral health needs.
One sign of trouble is when patients leave dental practices because the team failed to communicate an accurate out-of-pocket cost or didn’t communicate this at all. We’ve also seen patients leave because dental teams did not explain what a downgrade was, and how it affected the patient’s insurance plan.
A key factor in keeping patients is communication. If your dental admin team is effectively communicating costs and schedules to your patients, you shouldn’t have a problem with patient retention.
Your team is making an effort to provide a smooth patient experience
This goes without saying, but is your team kind and polite to patients? This really does impact the patient experience, and if your team isn’t, it can cause patients to switch dental providers.
If your team is professional and puts the patient’s experience first, they should have no reason to leave due to their experience with your admin team.
6. There are good online reviews
Believe it or not, a lot of patients find their dentist through the internet. If there are positive reviews of your dental practice online, they’ll see that other patients have had a positive experience with you. This will lead patients you don’t even know to come through your doors, expecting an amazing dental experience.
If you’ve received a few complaints or negative reviews, this is an important opportunity to address them with your team and find the root of the problem.
Continuously evaluate your dental billers to make sure your practices remain financially healthy
To make sure your practice remains or becomes successful, you should always evaluate your team’s performance. From your office manager to your billers, to the person handling scheduling, each person on this team makes or breaks the productivity of your dental practice.
This is why you need to make sure you have the best team in place. Dental ClaimSupport works constantly with different members of administrative teams and considers themselves part of the team if we’re hired on.