When dentists first started using software in the office, they used the computer to replace paper processes. In other words, they replaced filing cabinets full of charts with hard drives full of digitized charts. Rather than scribbling notes on paper, they dictated them into a transcription device. This saved space, and it was a start to streamlining the paperwork, but computerization held so much more potential. Going paperless is much more than digitizing dental charts. To be capturing all the benefits of going paperless, you should be taking advantage of all the automation and integrations your dental practice management software offers.
The real power of going paperless results when your practice management system uses data from one process to drive another process. For example, it uses information that a patient provides on a form to automatically remind the patient when it’s time for a visit, schedules the patient in the calendar, informs the doctor of the patient’s dental and personal history when they’re in the chair, submits claims with attached error-free radiographs to the insurance company, and tracks payments.
Think about your office, and evaluate whether your team is using your practice management system to its full capabilities in the following areas.
Your patients should be completing their forms online before they visit your office. At this step, you are simply replacing paper forms with digital forms, but it also reduces the time patients spend in the office and eliminates the time and potential errors when your staff re enters their data. However, the real power comes from the data your system captures. Your practice management system can now use the patient’s data as the foundation for every interaction you have with that patient.
Use this data to automate patient communications and scheduling via the methods your patients prefer such as text, email, phone or postcards. Your practice management system and its extended services should automatically remind them when they’re due for a visit and provide an option to schedule an appointment.
As part of the exam process, imaging comprises one of your most powerful tools, and it’s one of your most expensive investments. Thus, ensuring that you’re capturing its full advantages is especially important. Your dental practice management software should fully integrate with whatever imaging system you use to automatically import images and attach them to patients’ records in your database. This streamlines every step that uses the images. You should be able to easily retrieve the images, analyze each tooth right from the chart, educate patients when presenting treatment plans, and automatically attach the images when filing insurance claims electronically.
More than 80 percent of dental offices have adopted electronic dental records (EDRs)1. This means your office likely has moved from paper-based charts to digital charts maintained in a database. This enables storing and updating patient records in a way that keeps the data consistent and makes it easy to retrieve.
You should also be using this data to streamline other processes in your dental office. Ensure you’re using your practice management system to do the following:
You know what a nuisance insurance claims can be. Use your practice management system to simplify and streamline the process for your office. You can reduce the number of rejections, questions and delays by ensuring the notes attached to your patients’ records are accurate, radiographs are recent and health risks are detailed.
You can further streamline the process by using templates that include the information you know the insurance companies want, such as age of prosthetics, periocharts and complete X-rays. You can also save significant money by submitting X-rays, explanation of benefits (EOB), perio charts and other supporting documents electronically rather than mailing them. The National Electronic Attachments (NEA) did a study that found that submitting 20 claims per month by paper costs and additional $1,728 annually over submitting them electronically2.
“Streamlining paperwork” really means eliminating the paper and replacing it with data. Streamlining happens when you use that data to integrate process, eliminate manual steps, and gain new capabilities that weren’t possible in a paper-based office. If your office isn’t using its practice management system to its full capabilities, it’s time to make some adjustments.
Dentrix is a fully capable solution that integrates all major imaging and other devices as well as a host of additional software services to help you work smarter.
1 Extrapolated from a 2017 study in one U.S. state, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6094025/
2 “Getting a Handle on Insurance Management in Your Practice” webinar by Teresa Duncan, https://www.dentrix.com/webinars/view/getting-a-handle-on-insurance-management-in-your-practice