Coming out of the holidays and into the new year can be a stressful transition for many practices. January and February can be overwhelming, as many patients are eager to use their renewed benefits. This influx of patients is great, but do not let the re-evaluation of your business fall to the wayside. Look at your fees from last year and compare them with your expenses.
Teresa Duncan is an international speaker who focuses on revenue, dental insurance, and management issues.
I tell my clients to ask themselves three important questions about their practice:
- Did your lab fees go up in 2018? If yes, then raise your corresponding orthodontic or restorative fees.
- Did your disposables increase in 2018? If yes, then raise your evaluation and hygiene fees.
- Did your medicaments and antimicrobials rise in cost in 2018? If yes, then raise your periodontal treatment fees.
Asking questions like these will allow you to assess the relationship between your fees and expenses. You should be able to absorb the cost of providing these treatments. But if you do not reassess on an annual basis, your practice could be missing out on quite a bit of profit potential.
In 2018, I heard multiple stories of offices realizing they were losing money on procedures such as crowns, implants, and restorations. Let's take it one step further:
“Look at your fees from last year and compare them with your expenses.”
- Where are you with your fees?
- Are you in the 50th percentile? 80th percentile?
- Are you comfortable with your fees?
- Is your team comfortable talking about fees with patients?
That last question is crucial. Offices with higher fees may not be successful if team members don't feel comfortable explaining the investment to your patients. I recommend giving unsure team members some sort of script to follow to help them explain costs more confidently. Be sure all of your team members are communicating this topic effectively -- if they cannot explain the value of these procedures, your patients will not perceive the value of their own treatment.
Eye on codes
The American Dental Association updates the Code on Dental Procedures and Nomenclature (CDT code) each year, effective January 1. Your practice management software should have come out with an update in December. Be sure you have this update downloaded, installed, and ready to use.
With stricter benefit guidelines for patients, it has become more important than ever for your team to have current code knowledge. You should also keep an eye on International Classification of Diseases (ICD) codes (used for medical billing). These may require you to provide more documentation with your submissions in order for your practice to be as profitable and successful as possible.
Does this sound like a lot? Don't worry. Take a deep breath and improve your systems one step at a time.
Teresa Duncan is an international speaker who focuses on revenue, dental insurance, and management issues. She is the author of Moving Your Patients to Yes: Easy Insurance Conversations. For more information or to contact her, visit her Odyssey Management website.
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