They say that the only things in this life that are predictable are death and taxes. However, imagine for one moment adding dental practice revenue to that list. Does that pique your interest?
There are already general dental practices in the marketplace that have identified and implemented processes that allow them to create revenue predictability. Large corporate dental practices may have a greater handle on these processes by virtue of deeper pockets and years of growth, but they are not alone. Smaller, independent offices have also achieved success.
So what do they have in common?
- Systems that accurately and efficiently verify insurance.
- Treatment plans are prepared and presented utilizing a specific script.
- Consistent, systematized A/R follow up.
Let’s tackle the insurance verification matter first, as it is a critical driver of both revenue and patient relationships.
Patient satisfaction increases when expectations are managed. They want to know what, when and how they will remit payment for any services rendered. Your ability to deliver on those expectations is removed when your staff does not know what an insurance carrier will pay on a claim.
That’s why the details of his or her policy should have already been checked by a member of your front office staff and delineated in the file before that patient ever walks into your office. It ensures you have the information you need to deliver the information they need.
Second, treatment plans should always be presented utilizing a specific script.
Money is tied to emotion, and many dental practice associates are uncomfortable presenting a treatment plan and the costs associated with it. You might even be uncomfortable discussing the money aspect of your work with the patients whose needs you are meeting.
The most financially successful independent practices are those with a dedicated, team member to create a treatment plan and discuss it with the patient.
Having one person dedicated to treatment plan creation and presentation alleviates pressure on you and other team members. Incorporating the use of a script then gives that team member the confidence to present the same information in the same way to every patient. As they clearly convey what the patient can expect in terms of cost and coverage, patients, in turn, feel that they have increased control in the process. It’s a win for everyone involved.
Finally, revenue predictability hinges on a practice’s use of a consistent and systematized follow up for accounts receivable.
It is common for dental practices to look at A/R only once a month: when it’s time to run patient statements. Engaging in this practice, however, further contributes to revenue inconsistency.
Administrative team members should instead be reviewing accounts receivable daily. If an insurance carrier doesn’t pay all that was anticipated on a particular procedure, a statement for the outstanding balance should be sent to the patient on the same day the practice is notified. The longer the time between service and request for payment, the less likely it will be that the patient will remit payment on time—meaning your bottom line takes a hit.
Outsourcing can aid in revenue predictability.
One of the most significant barriers to achieving revenue predictability is simple: time. In independent practices focused on growth, administrative and clinical staff are already stretched in terms of the amount of work they need to accomplish every day. Revenues may also not be sufficient to expand staffing to accommodate the tasks associated with insurance verification, developing scripting for treatment plan presentation or tracking accounts receivable.
Outsourcing these and other tasks is a cost-effective way for general dentists to incorporate these best practices in their own businesses. Costs associated with hiring a staff member are eliminated, existing team members can better focus on their specific roles, and you have the advantage of a team of professionals whose only work is to calculate co-payments, verify insurance information, follow up on claims, bill in a timely manner and even assist with script development and training.
The result is increased patient satisfaction, greater staff focus and efficiency, and improved revenue predictability.