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Amanda Cross

Marketing Manager

10 Best Practices for Dental Billing

Your dental practice requires daily financial management in order to remain profitable. With so many things going on in the realm of insurance, you shouldn’t have to worry about your cash flow stopping. Ensure that your practice is on the right track by implementing these 10 best practices to hold yourself financially accountable:

1. Understand the importance of pre-authorization

Pre-authorization is especially useful when your patient is unsure if their procedure is going to be fully covered by their insurance plan. By submitting a pre-authorization, you’re covering yourself and your patient against any surprises that come from unexpected deductibles or claim denials, and you can set up an easy payment plan when you know exactly what the patient co-pay will be.

2. Make it easier to get your payments

Your patients come from many different demographics, and some may be more or less tech savvy when it comes to online payments or paying over the phone. Increase your chances of timely payment by offering as many ways as possible to collect:

  • Cash
  • Credit/debit card
  • Auto-pay on specific dates
  • Online payment portal
  • 24/7/365 automated phone payments 

3. Always collect co-pays on the date of service

Train your staff to remind your patients of their initial payment portion, and offer the ability to pay it on or before the appointment date. By being transparent with your patients about their estimated or confirmed co-pays, you will gain their trust and are much more likely to keep patients for life. Utilize the resources at your disposal to set a standard operating procedure in your office — route slips, morning huddles, patient transfers, and balance reports in your software.

4. Keep up-to-date with coding changes

The world of dental billing is vastly complex, and requires a dedicated chunk of time and dedication in order to commit to profitably. If you’re having trouble with rejected claims or updates to new code requirements, look to utilize outside resources like Coding for Confidence and PracticeBooster. If your office is struggling to keep the outstanding money coming into the office from billed claims, iit might be time to consider outsourcing your billing to most effectively care for your patients.

5. Staying organized

It might seem like the simplest step, but we frequently shortcut the most effective ways to ensure profit: keeping things tidy. Always double check to see if you’re required to include:

  • Clinical notes
  • X-rays
  • Past treatments

If you haven’t fully attached your supporting documentation during the claims process, you’ll be stuck losing time and money when your claims are ultimately rejected or downgraded. 

6. Follow the rules

Every insurance company is different, and each one has specific requirements regarding clinical notes/narratives or the types of supporting documentation they need in order to get your claim paid. If you’re not following these rules, you’ll have to look forward to long wait times in getting any potential appeals processed.

7. Offer a payment plan

Everyone’s financial situation is different, so it makes sense to have payment options that are as diverse as your patient base. Consider offering payment plans over a period of time that help your patients get the immediate care they need. Create an approval process that guarantees your payment after providing services, whether through an auto-pay or a monthly due date for fees.

8. Know your cross codes

With more billing regulations on the horizon, now is the time to recognize how and when to use cross codes. More insurance companies are starting to require relevant medical codes for certain dental procedures, and your practice needs to implement them correctly in order to guarantee an accurate claim. 

9. Eliminate aging

Sometimes patient payments and insurance claims take longer than a few business days to resolve, and every account manager knows the words “aged reports”. This means that your accounts are behind in payment in some form, sometimes for months. Without immediate attention, your over 90 will skyrocket and you may not see the profit you expected month over month. Reduce the accounts on your aging reports by thoroughly vetting your accounts on a weekly basis, and don’t let anything slip through the cracks. Feeling overwhelmed? Consider outsourcing your over 90 to clear out aged claims and open up profit.

10. Stay focused

When you’re fully committed to accounting transparency, you’re able to smoothly and profitably run your dental practice. Without this crucial element in your dental billing experience, you won’t have the peace of mind you deserve, much less the profit you aspire to. By implementing these best practices and staying dedicated to the financial stability of your practice, you’ll have many, many years of stable cash flow.

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