Attendees at the 2015 Business of Dentistry Conference experienced a world-class event at a destination resort and convention center in sunny Florida. Not only did attendees enjoy a lively welcome reception and hear inspiring words from two keynote speakers, they also received advice and insight from leading dental industry consultants and tips and tricks from Dentrix experts.
Held in October at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Kissimmee, Florida, the 2015 Business of Dentistry conference offered more than 70 in-depth courses and 124 break-out sessions, including a Learning Lab and pre-conference sessions, an exhibitor hall that featured exciting new product integrations, and free practice assessments conducted by Dentrix profitability coaches. Conference attendees gained valuable insights about how to discover new heights of success by perfecting practice management.
If you attended the conference, use the following summaries to remind you of what you learned. If you didn’t attend, read these summaries to get a sampling of the professional development learning that went on.
Everyone on the team is responsible for sending a clear and consistent practice message. The way the clinical team speaks to the patient about the practice needs to be intentional. Here are some ways your staff can communicate to patients that they are receiving quality care:
Many dental team members are concerned about maintaining an adequate new patient flow and moving that tenuous, initial inquiry to a committed patient of record. Implementing principles from the key lessons in Creating the Ultimate Patient Experience is the way to keep your dental practice on a positive path.
Lesson 1: Today’s new patients are cynical about their own ability to rise above all the competing noise while making the right purchase decisions. From the website through the first phone call, it is the responsibility of the team to give the potential new patient a “reason to believe.” Put them at ease by letting them know they made the right choice!
Lesson 2: In order to create loyal, committed, “raving fan” patients who say yes to treatment and insist their friends and family do business with you, they need to have a significant relationship with the doctor and the team. They need to like you, understand and value why they need any recommended treatment, and trust that the team will support their journey to ideal oral health!
Lesson 3: The two key influencing skills needed to build strong patient relationships are asking open-ended questions (what, why, and how questions) and benefit + procedure statements (“In order to make your appointment as comfortable as possible, may I ask you a few questions?”).
Lesson 4: When patients really like you, they don’t want to say “no” to your treatment recommendations. Be very wary of the MAYBE—the neutral, no-conflict zone. Try the verbal skill, “What I hear you saying is we are at ’no’ for now.”
Lesson 5: Start implementing new-patient-like experiences, called “status evaluations,” with your patients of record. This will increase comprehensive treatment acceptance and generate new patient referrals and testimonials!
More dental offices are submitting claims to medical insurance carriers, either because the dental carriers require adjudication by the medical carrier before they will process the claim, or because patients are requesting offices to submit to medical on their behalf. The ability to submit claims to medical carriers can provide significant benefits for your patients and, ultimately, your practice, both in dollars and cents and in that it goes far for customer service and patient retention.
All medical claims require the use of diagnosis codes and, as of October 2015, the US has transitioned to ICD-10 CM. Diagnostic codes tell the carrier why the services were performed (i.e. they support the medical necessity). The codes reported on a claim form, whether procedure codes or diagnostic codes, must be supported by the documentation in the patient record.
The primary procedure code set used in medical claims (CMS 1500 form) is Current Procedural Terminology or CPT codes; however, there are times when “D” codes can be used on medical claim forms. Coding guidelines tell us to use CPT codes if there is a specific code to report. If not, we are allowed to defer to the HCPCS codes (Healthcare Common Procedural Coding System), of which the dental codes are a subset. For many of the services dentistry provides, like extractions, restorations, and crowns, there is not a specific CPT code. That means you can put D codes on your claim forms where a specific CPT code does not exist.
Proper completion of the claim form, understanding of the code sets (ICD-10CM, CPT and HCPCS), and being able to determine coverage guidelines BEFORE the procedure is performed will bring success to your dental office.
Copayments, statements and collection calls. Does the thought of these three items raise your blood pressure? You’re not alone. Ensuring that your patients make payments at time of service is critical to keeping your cash flow active. However, what do you do when your software is capable but the team is not?
A review with the team of different billing scenarios can be very helpful. It doesn’t have to include role-play (which seems to put everyone off!) but honestly, it does help. As a team, come up with the most common financial questions you receive from your patients. At every team meeting, discuss two scenarios. Let the team know that there are no wrong answers, but at the end you can give them suggested guidelines. Your team should feel that they contributed to the conversation, and as a team leader, it’s up to you to consider their thought process.
A solid financial policy is essential so that all team members are aware of how money is handled in your office. By establishing solid systems, your team will be best prepared to handle questions. Patients ask us many questions—some easy and some difficult. Help your team to handle the difficult questions by communicating clear expectations.
Vince Lombardi, the famous football coach, tells how he built a championship team: “…go back to basics and we’re going to learn, drill and practice the fundamentals until we become better at them than anyone else in the game. If you do this with me, I will make you champions.”
Scheduling is the most complex system in the dental practice. Here are six “Work SMART” fundamentals you can begin working on with your team:
Implement these and your schedule will be more productive.