Fact. There are problems that occur with outsourcing your dental billing. Trust me, as an outsourced dental billing company, it hurts to say that. The problems usually occur in particular when a dental office engages in outsourcing for the first time. Think of any new employees entering your dental office. There are always uncertainties. How will the new employee fit in? Are they going to change things around here? With any new employee or business relationship, there is always a learning curve and “get-to-know-you” period. This is no different with an outsourced dental billing company.
Outsourcing is a new way of doing business for many dental offices. Any new venture brings its own set of problems and challenges. The good thing is that for each of these issues, there are always solutions. At Dental ClaimSupport, we have seen these problems over the last decade. After working with hundreds of dental offices, we’ve been very fortunate to experience these various problems. We have found ways to remedy them. We have built healthy, profitable working relationships when initially, the business relationship with the dental team didn’t seem like a good fit.
Outsourcing can work, but sometimes it doesn’t. It isn’t always the best fit for dental offices. You read that right. Even if that means we don’t earn your business, we still want you to understand what to expect. This article explains the main problems with outsourcing your dental billing, so your dental team is prepared in the event you choose to work with one. This article should make you think about the dynamic of your dental team. If you know the main problems with outsourcing your billing, and you also understand your team, you’ll be able to answer if outsourcing could be a viable option for you.
Not all dental billing problems can be fixed overnight
Your dental office has probably never worked with an outsourced billing company before. We completely understand that you don’t quite know what to expect in the working relationship, and that’s more than fair. We’ve often seen that dental offices have their own certain set of expectations that may be a tad out of line with how outsourced dental billing companies actually operate. These expectations sound good in theory, but often don’t work out as smoothly in practice.
There will be an adjustment period.
Outsourcing is expected to help your dental practice, but that doesn’t mean you’ll see all the benefits right away. There is always an adjustment period that takes place. Again, this is new for most dental teams, and they don’t quite know what to expect. No different than adding a new employee to the dental practice, expect some growing pains. Time is needed for both parties to adjust to each other and build their working relationship.
You will still need some sort of in-house admin team.
Many dental offices that employ an outsourced dental billing company have the expectation that most to all responsibilities can be lifted from their admin team. In most cases, this isn’t true.
Most dental billing companies take over after claims have been created and batched. Meaning, they perform tasks related to dental claims being sent, posted, and researched. However, your dental team is still required to make appointments, perform insurance verifications, collect from patients, etc.
You need to know what tasks your dental team will still perform. This will cut down on misunderstandings and tasks not being completed.
Don’t have unrealistic expectations. Some issues cannot be fixed overnight.
Dental offices may struggle for a multitude of reasons. Maybe a key employee is leaving your practice. Maybe your office is just getting busier or you’ve added another dental provider. Maybe the right person continuously fails to be hired, or training is flawed. Maybe consistent problems with claim submission, claim research, and incorrect billing have snowballed into what feels like an insurmountable problem.
These are all reasons a dental office might seek the help of an outsourced billing company. If several problems are already present, fixing them all overnight is next to impossible.
You need to set a timeline. Maintain realistic expectations. Tackling these problems in a systematic manner is the most effective way to dig a practice out of these holes. If you think outsourcing will be your overnight magical unicorn, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment.
Outsourcing your dental billing can affect your office culture
Simply put, introducing an outsourced dental billing company to your team can be difficult. You don’t know them. Expecting there to be no issues with this new “employee” could lead to bigger issues down the road. This undoubtedly can affect the culture and dynamic that already exists in your dental practice.
Understanding the billing company has its own culture and business practices plays a major part in building a working relationship. If there is push back between the two parties, and no clear alignment, outsourcing can present a problem.
Creating trust can take some time. Both sides may have to give a little to find the right flow. If either side is unwilling, it may not be a good fit.
Lack of expertise may be a problem with outsourced dental billing
Is the dental billing company even good at what they do? Well, this is a great question and would be a clear problem with outsourcing. It’s probably the main question that keeps most dentists up at night.
Is your in-house team better at the dental billing process? If you have chosen to outsource, you certainly don’t want this to be the case. There are measures in place to track this though. You need to know how your office performed before you started with the dental billing company. Then, compare the success or failure after a certain amount of time.
So, how do you track these measures? Your overall collections, outstanding insurance aging report percentage, and knowing your collection percentage are great places to start. These numbers and data help indicate if you are running a successful dental practice, and will give you a clearer picture if outsourcing was the right decision. Pick a reasonable deadline and compare the numbers. What’s a reasonable deadline you might ask?
It usually takes 1-3 months for offices to really see significant improvement when utilizing a good dental billing company; sometimes sooner. Significant improvement could be anything from a more streamlined process and peace of mind, to higher collections and clean reports. As the dental provider, ask yourself what success you were looking for, and see if you’re there.
There is an important caveat! All dental billers, in-house or outsourced, have to possess the ability to actually perform their duties to show value. If you allow dental billing companies proper and full access, you will be able to see some immediate results. Sometimes, billers aren’t afforded the ability to actually do the job because of dental software security settings. Let’s explain that further.
Improper security settings in dental softwares can cause problems with outsourcing
All dental softwares have security setting rights. These rights either enable or disable each user’s ability to perform certain actions in the dental software. For a dental biller, this could be running certain reports, posting payments and insurance adjustments, or sending dental claims.
If dental billers, in-house or outsourced, don’t have the security rights to perform certain billing functions, there is no way they will be able to fulfill their duties adequately. When employing any dental billers, make sure they have the correct security settings and rights to perform their duties.
Decision making and authority rights may create problems with outsourcing
After employing an outsourced dental billing company, “who makes the decisions” is a common source of contention. Because roles and responsibilities have changed with some of your in-house personnel, there might be some confusion when decisions are made. If decisions don’t get made, especially in relation to who is responsible for certain dental billing functions, your office will lose revenue.
Because there may be some confusion when it comes to decision making, it’s important for both parties to understand the contract agreement. Some authority may have passed to the outsourced dental billing company, and some may have stayed in-house. Simply understanding “who does what” will decrease friction and create clarity.
Dental offices and billing companies need to have a clear understanding of who has the authority and decision making power for the various business functions of the dental offices. If a decision falls under the roles and responsibilities of the in-house dental team, then they should be the ones making the ultimate decision, and vice versa.
The solution to outsourced dental billing problems? Communication.
All roads lead to Communication!! You may have noticed a common theme in this article. Much like any relationship in life, business or personal, it has a chance to thrive with open and healthy communication.
It should be no different with in-house dental teams working with outsourced dental billing companies. Every problem can be avoided or fixed with open communication.
Utilize all forms of communication with anyone working remotely. Email is perfect for information sharing, but a phone call or video meeting may be better for problem-solving and resolving conflict. Find out what works best for the relationship.
As a dental billing company, I can tell you that we want to be viewed as an extension of your office. Sometimes it’s easy to forget someone that isn’t physically in your office, as this is a new concept to most dental teams. Focus your team on building a relationship with the outsourced billing company; no different than them sitting right next to you in the same office. The best working relationships have this cohesion. It comes from understanding the common goal of the dental office and working together to achieve it.
You now have an understanding of problems you may encounter when working with a dental billing company. When making any decision, it’s important to be prepared for the good and the bad. Because of your interest in the problems with outsourced dental billing, you may want to consider the benefits of outsourcing as well. That way you can weigh some pros and cons and see if outsourcing could be an option for your dental practice.