Blink your eyes and 2020 will be here. The 2019 economy has been strong and our clients report banner years. But every one of them would like to see even better numbers in 2020. We’re helping them achieve that and want to share five proven strategies to increase what you produce and what you deposit into the bank after expenses are paid. Christmas season is a busy time of year so let’s not waste any time.
# 1 – Stop wasting time chasing claims. You only have to chase the claims that went out in error in the first place. Over the last two years we have audited claims in various kinds of practices. What we find is that claims that are Over-30, -60 and -90 days are sitting there unnecessarily. Depending on the practice, between 43% and 67% of those unresolved claims are there for such reasons as: a) exceeding frequency limitations, b) no maximum remaining, c) plan terminated, d) no assignment of benefits for out-of-network providers, and e) patient not found on plan with the information supplied. Every one of these claims could have gone through clean the first time with accurate history, eligibility and benefit information. For that to happen, you need accurate history, eligibility and benefits before treatment is presented, dentistry is delivered and claims are submitted.
# 2 – Get a “Yes” before new patients walk out the door. What wants to send a Pre-D (pre-denial)? The longer you wait to bring new patients to a decision point about the dentistry they need, the less likely they will ever say, “Yes.” Something motivated them to come see you and they will never be more motivated to say “yes” than they are at the initial new patient appointment. But patients want to know how much their portion will be after insurance reimbursement. You and your team don’t have to be in the dark when it comes to how patient plans will reimburse plan members. When your practice speaks confidently and correctly about insurance reimbursement, patients immediately sense they’re not stabbing in the dark. The degree to which patients can be confident in treatment estimates from your practice is the degree to which your team members both know that their insurance information is accurate and that they have entered it into your practice management software correctly and created whatever coverage books need to be created. Treatment acceptance in your practice will be trending upward when you get accurate history, eligibility and benefits before your new patients turn up for their first appointment.
# 3 – Collect an appropriate patient portion at checkout. The worst response ever given at the front desk is, “We’ll wait until we get your insurance back and then settle up.” Good luck with that. The longer accounts sit on your books, the less likely you are to collect the money you’re owed. The sad truth, however, is that practices everywhere give that same poor, tired response day after day. With each passing day, A/R swells and more of your hard-earned money slips down the drain. Why does this happen? Simply put, because administrative team members do not know how much they should collect. THERE ARE ONLY TWO REASONS WHY YOU HAVE UNCOLLECTED ACCOUNTS ON YOUR BOOKS: a) you didn’t collect an appropriate patient portion at checkout, and b) you thought insurance was going to reimburse something that it won’t. One thing alone can solve these two problems: Obtaining accurate history, eligibility and benefits before your patient shows up for his or her appointment.
# 4 – Generate more referrals from happy patients. When new patients have a great experience with your team and with the financial aspect of their relationship with the practice, they will recommend you to their family and friends. But let either of those things go south and kiss your referrals goodbye. Patients will not send their friends to a practice where they do not feel they will be treated well. They will not recommend you to their co-workers or family members if they had a bad experience with the finances. The good news is that you can be the practice in town that gets it right. You’ll need accurate history, eligibility and benefits to make it happen.
# 5 – Take more calls than you make. You can’t take a call when you’re making a call. According to Dr. Chris Phelps at Golden Goose scheduling, practices that spend less than $2000 per month on marketing are missing 8-12 new patient phone calls each month. Assuming you only convert half the new patient calls you receive, that’s about additional new patients a month you could be scheduling if your team members and phones were not tied up getting the kind of accurate history, eligibility and benefits you need.
Conclusion. Let’s face it. Most patients use dental insurance to help meet the costs of their dental care. And most people – ourselves included – want to know what our out-of-pocket expenses will be before we commit to expenses of $100 or more. We can know what we know and think how we thing about the necessity of dental care. The great majority of patients, however, see it as discretionary unless they’re in pain. Few of them are willing to commit to treatment about which they are not accurately informed concerning the finances. Make sure you get exhaustive history, up-to-date eligibility and comprehensive details about your patients’ dental plans and you will drive increased production and profitability in 2020. If you need to do that more efficiently than it’s currently being done in your office, give us a call. If you need a hand with insurance management, let us tell you how we can help at savings of 40% or more when it comes to hiring an employee to do that in your office. You’ll be glad you did.