From Guest Writer Fortune Management, dental practice consultants
When you think of your heart’s function, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Vitality? Power? Lifeblood? Our heart is not only our central organ, in Western medicine, it is the organ that pumps oxygen to the rest of our body to keep us alive. Our front office administrative teams share a similar function for the life of our dental offices.
The front desk is much more than just a physical space; it is the initial connection between patients and the practice. Each front office team member sets the tone for the entire patient experience and it all begins on that first phone call and/or that very first step into the practice. The warm welcome (a cheerful greeting and reassuring smile), efficient scheduling, and seamless handling of dental benefits are techniques that create a positive first impression and establish trust that can extend throughout the patient’s journey. Our dental admin team shares many responsibilities and yet there is one that, at times, gets overlooked.
Navigating the labyrinth of dental insurance can be daunting not only for patients, but also for the team. And, when it comes to managing a successful dental practice, a strong and efficient admin team plays a crucial role. In some cases, we (admin team) see our job as complete once we’ve clicked ‘submit’ to send off our patients’ claims. Yet, the reality is that our job only begins at this point. Dental claim follow-up is an essential task that can significantly impact the financial health and patient satisfaction of the practice.
So what are Key Strategies for Effective dental claim Follow-Ups?
- Verification of Benefits: This ensures that the practice has accurate and up-to-date information about the patient’s coverage. You may not bat an eye when you read this first step. You may think or say, “my team already does this.” My question to you, “how thorough or in depth is the verification process?” With the correct questions, you can obtain enough information to avoid surprises at the end; especially if you are filing as an out of network provider.
- Clear Communication with Patients: our teams should learn the details of your patient’s dental benefits and educate them about their coverage, potential patient portions, pre-authorization requirements, waiting periods, and any other clause that could impact the patient’s coverage. Clear communication helps manage patient expectations and prevents misunderstandings.
- Timely Claims Submission: I cannot stress enough how important a prompt claim submission is to avoid delays, or worse forgetfulness. If your administrative team is finding themselves having to go after information from the clinical team to submit claims, streamlining these systems will be highly effective.
- Persistent Follow-Up: Insurance claims can sometimes get stuck in processing or encounter issues. You may even have incorrect information within your practice management system for the receiving end. Creating a proactive system to follow-up, whether through phone calls or online portals two weeks after submission, can help identify and resolve these issues promptly.
- Stay Informed About Changes: Insurance policies and regulations can change frequently. Dental administrative teams should stay informed about these changes and adapt their strategies accordingly. Regular training and communication with insurance providers can be immensely helpful in this regard, as each plan has its own set of rules, regulations, and there are changes in policies, codes, and billing procedures.
- Use of Technology: Dental practice management software and other platforms can streamline the insurance follow-up process. These tools often have features that allow teams to track claims, automate reminders, and monitor outstanding balances.
- Denial Management: Despite meticulous efforts, claim denials can still occur. Effective denial management involves identifying the reasons for denials, rectifying errors, and submitting claims properly and promptly.
Our dental administrative team is the heart of any thriving dental practice. They juggle many responsibilities, all of which are vital for the success of the practice and patient experience. By implementing the strategies mentioned above, administrative teams can master the art of efficient insurance follow-up. This not only boosts the practice’s revenue but also cultivates a sense of trust and reliability with the patients. When patients witness the dedication to seamless insurance processes, their overall satisfaction soars, leading to stronger patient-practice relationships.
In essence, dental insurance follow-up is far more than a task on a checklist. It is an opportunity for our team to demonstrate their commitment to excellence and contribute to the practice’s growth and success in ways that echo far beyond the front desk.
After reading this, are you wondering if your team is following up with dental claims effectively? Could there be money being left on the table? Let us help you by performing a Practice Analysis focused on your accounts receivable – click here to learn more.