The title may sound harsh, but after working with hundreds of dental offices, we’ve discovered that nearly every office does the same things that negatively affect the practice. These actions ultimately decrease revenue, patient retention and employee satisfaction. The worst part is many of the things mentioned below have been preached in dentistry for YEARS. So, we can’t really blame you, but we can help “change you” for the better!
So, where does this misinformation come from? Much of it comes from insurance companies. That’s right! They spread false information to dental offices and then “dental consultants” pass it around like the common cold. Insurance reimbursement rates are moving lower and lower every year. Yet, we keep listening to insurance companies, hoping that somehow we will be paid fairly for what we do. However, insurance companies determine their fees and reimbursements like any other business, on their profit and loss. It’s not going to get any better. In this article, we will debunk dentistry norms with truth we’ve uncovered after years of research and experience.
1. Submitting FFS Fees to insurance companies
We’ve heard this at almost every dental conference. Most dentists think, or have been told, it’s important to submit FFS Fees to insurance companies because it will increase reimbursement rates. We’ve heard of dentists submitting very high fees, in hopes of receiving higher reimbursements. However, insurance companies use this information for a very different purpose. On the EOB they send to your patients, they use your FFS Fees to boast how much the patient is saving by being in network with the insurance company. Rather than highlighting the slim percentage they pay, they focus on the “savings” the patient has since you aren’t billing your contracted services. See an example below:
2. Not offering choice to patients
Most practices offer the same materials to every patient. With such low reimbursement rates, who can blame them for offering the least expensive products. Most patients don’t know the difference between an offshore crown, and a quality grade crown from high-quality lab. It’s the dental team’s responsibility to educate patients on the available options. And, shouldn’t it be the patient’s choice? Fortunately, there is a better way to treat patients and still maintain profitability on procedures. Offering choice to patients empowers them and increases trust. It can also drastically improve the profitability of your practice, if you know how to bill it correctly to the patient.
3. Offices don’t cross-train team members
Most dental teams focus on training team members to become specialists. This can be beneficial so that each member of the team can perfect their craft. However, what happens if someone calls in sick? Is there someone who can cover their responsibilities? Cross-training employees helps overall job satisfaction and office efficiency. I’ve heard too many horror stories of team members refusing to answer the phone, or bill insurance because it’s “not their job.” The success of the dental practice is EVERYONE’S job. By cross-training everyone to do nearly every aspect of each other’s job, it allows team members to take sick days or go on vacation without bringing the office to a standstill, or having the front office team members come back to a pile of work. While front office personnel may not have the training or ability to perform dental procedures, like a root canal, they can learn how to prep an operatory, and there’s no reason the dentist shouldn’t be able to submit an insurance claim. By implementing this protocol of cross-training, everyone gains a greater appreciation for everyone else’s job and a greater understanding for how the office functions.
4. Writing off procedures that should never have been written off
Most dental offices will read an EOB, and mistakenly write off balances owed because they do not understand the very contracts they signed. In other words, EOBs lie all the time. It’s an insurance tactic that needs to be stopped. On the phone, many insurance companies tell you the same lies that are verbalized on the EOBs. However, what does the insurance contract say? Most dental practices don’t read the contract, so don’t be surprised if you haven’t heard this before. Despite insurances suggesting that you write off the difference, this is contrary to the contract you signed with them. They are not allowed to suggest that you write off the difference with the new Utah Dental Law. And you shouldn’t! It decreases your profitability dramatically. “Wait, what? I don’t live in Utah.” Well, if your state dental association doesn’t know about the Utah Dental Law, maybe you should be the one to get them moving to pass an identical law, or one even better. In Utah, we write off a fraction of our fees as compared to other states. Even without the law, too many offices write off things they don’t have to. Ignorance is definitely not bliss, nor is it profitable.
5. Buying equipment with a low ROI
Every few years a new, shiny product comes to market touting increased customer comfort or operational efficiency. While many of these products live up to their claims, they can be very expensive. Our office motto is “if it’s not, fast, easy or simple we don’t want it.” We love products that improve efficiency and improve the patient’s experience. However, the products we purchase need to have a healthy return on investment. Products should be able to pay for themselves over time, or should I say, over a short period of time.
It’s important to look for the source of everything we hear, especially in dentistry. Insurance companies focus primarily on their own profitability, which makes it nearly impossible for us to offer the best care to our patients, especially with the budget constraints they place on us as dental care providers. But, as we uncover more truths, we can learn how to offer premium services and grow profitably, morally, ethically, and legally – once we understand insurance contracts and state laws governing dental practice.
And here is the best business news of all, MPMB teaches dentists how to reclaim forgotten profitability in dentistry. We are training specialists who understand dental insurance contracts and state laws that govern dental care. What are you waiting for, give us a call and get started with our team training today.
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