The operations of a dental clinic fall into one of two categories. First you have all the aspects that deal directly with the oral health of patients. It includes the treatments you provide, tests, check ups, general cleaning, advanced procedures etc. The second category includes all non care aspects of a practice. They include support services like billing, payment and claim processing, employee training, financial management and so on.
Most practices keep on the latest dental technology and procedures. Yet an equal number are far behind in streamlining their administrative function. This is where administrative simplification comes in. It sounds scary but it’s just a fancy term for maximizing efficiency in the non care aspects of a clinic.
What does the term Administrative Simplification mean?
For the most part, it means using technology to streamline your operations. HIPAA regulations and the meaningful use programs mandate the use of standards and uniform codes. When dental clinics use that technology effectively, your administrative overhead is reduced. There are several functions that can benefit from digital technology:
- Sending and receiving payments
- Checking the status of claims you’ve submitted to both federal and private programs
- Confirming patient eligibility for benefits and coverage
- Referring patients to other providers, specialists etc.
- Scheduling appointments and sending out reminders
Unfortunately many practices use their EHR for core functions like medical documentation, adding notes and maintaining patient files. But they don’t use other features like automatic appointment scheduling or integrating with patient portals.
Benefits of Administrative Simplification
The first and foremost benefit of using technology is that you save money and time. Imagine if you could submit a claim and see payment in under 48 hours, instead of waiting days while your paperwork goes through the mail. You can post payments to accounts receivable quicker which means better cash flows for your clinic.
You can easily reduce the volume of paperwork and calls needed to complete even simple tasks. EHR software can auto complete certain fields such as addresses or medical codes saving time and preventing costly mistakes. Instead of your receptionist waiting on hold or trying multiple time to confirm an appointment with a patient, they can schedule visits through the online interface. Your office can automate reminders so that patients don’t forget to come in when they should. This means fewer missed appointments and no more frantic rescheduling for both your office and your patients. More patient visits are definitely good for your bottomline!
If there is one thing software is better at than people, it is handling large amounts of data. Most good EHRs let you view critical practice numbers in real time. You can also generate reports that show up to date figures for revenue, number of patients etc. You can easily use that data to spot deficiencies in care or areas of improvement for your patients. Suppose one of your reports show that a significant number of patients try to pay with a credit card before resorting to other forms of payment. Maybe it’s time for your practice to add credit/bank card support!
This sort of insight is hard to come by when your staff is drowning under mountains of paperwork. You should periodically review all your processes to see if there are any that can be simplified. Some processes may have to be manually done today but tomorrow is a different story. You can also talk to your vendor about upcoming features and standards support in their software.
Adopting the standards specified by CMS through technology can make your life much easier. Your time is valuable. Wouldn’t you rather spend it on improving your practice than on paperwork?