It might seem unnecessary, but enlisting a third party to handle your practice’s administrative tasks might be the most forward-thinking thing you can do.
THINK OF ALL the ways today’s dentists are, in many respects, living the future: virtual patient-practitioner sessions, hard- and soft-tissue lasers, 3D treatment planning, reduced chair time thanks to implant-depth and angulation planning software. Still ahead lie the use of 3D printing and stem cells for tooth replacement, and true democratization of dentistry via smartphone.
Embracing the future administratively as well as clinically is no less crucial. PPO fee schedules regulate what 85 percent of offices charge, and clinical advances aren’t cheap. Outsourcing tasks such as bookkeeping, accounts payable and billing generally proves more reliable and cost-effective. Things that were once commonly done in-house—payroll, for example—seldom are today. The companies that handle them both educate practice owners on new developments and regulations, and remove onerous compliance burdens. Why should you consider making use of one? For these reasons.
- INCREASED PEACE OF MIND. When someone else handles the time- consuming headaches, practice owners can actually look forward to the month-end numbers. If others are focusing on your accounts every day, problems such as charge-entry errors and reimbursement disputes can be identified early, before they spiral out of control.
- QUICKER PAYMENTS. Cash flow is key. The number of days unpaid accounts and claims are outstanding has a major impact on your bottom line. Outsourcing your billing means faster submissions with fewer errors, speeding up the process to the fullest extent.
- ECONOMIES OF SCALE. Outsourcing companies (the Indiana-based Insurance Billing Outsourcing, which I founded, is a prominent one) distribute expenses across their entire client base, meaning less-pricey services overall.
- HIGHLY TRAINED SPECIALISTS. The sole purpose of an outsourcing company is to increase your practice’s profitability. Specialists therefore review and post all payments, ensuring that carriers are paying the correct amount and preventing incorrect adjustments. Every outstanding claim is tracked until fully paid.
- ALWAYS-CURRENT KNOWLEDGE. Keeping up with insurance rules and requirements means constant learning and steady vigilance. It’s difficult, and most practices don’t have the time. So let someone else worry about it.
- INCREASED FOCUS ON PATIENTS. Handling accounts in-house consumes both time and money. Even if you personally aren’t the one spending 15 minutes or more to follow up on an individual claim, you can’t escape the attendant management headaches. If you outsource, you’ll free up valuable hours, maintain your patient volume and potentially increase revenue—all at once.
Most practitioners who use billing services see a revenue increase and cost decrease that far outweigh the third-party service fee. You can modernize your equipment, but if you aren’t modernizing your administrative side, you’re limiting your own success. And as any clinician can tell you, it’s all but impossible to practice dentistry with one hand tied behind your back.
LESLIE ICENOGLE is a Benco Specialist Coach who helps implement clinical and administrative systems in surgical practices, and increase insurance profitability and implant units in both general and specialty practices. She is the owner of Insurance Billing Outsourcing, which performs a variety of insurance-related tasks including everyday duties, fee negotiations and credentialing.