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Teresa Duncan, MS, FADIA, FAADOM is an international speaker who focuses on revenue, dental insurance & management issues. She is a Fellow of the American Association of Dental Office Managers. Her memberships include the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, National Speakers Association and the Academy of Dental Management Consultants. She has been named one of the Top 25 Women in Dentistry by Dental Products Report. Teresa received her Master’s Degree in Healthcare Management.
As a dental business owner, you should be aware of your transactions and adjustments on a daily basis. This means asking for and reading the end-of-day report. Not only are you evaluating reports for anomalies, but also assessing their accuracy.
As a business owner, you should be aware of your transactions and adjustments on a daily basis. This means asking for and reading the end-of-day report. Not only are you evaluating reports for anomalies, but also assessing their accuracy.
I can’t tell you how many dentists I speak with after lectures who confide that they don’t know how to run their reports or where to even start. The first few times I heard this I was shocked, but after years of hearing this I can empathize. These doctors are not alone. Often when software is chosen it is evaluated on the merits of radiograph integration, clinical record-keeping abilities and scheduling capabilities. I can’t expect a dentist to evaluate a software on financial capabilities if this is a topic that is new and often murky.
The battle cry of electronic health records is not only interoperability (accessing information over different platforms) but also recognition of reporting tools. Perhaps it’s not highly studied or called out in articles, but it becomes very evident when you are the end user. The end-of-day reports can be kept to a minimum but still give you enough information to make tactical decisions. The manager and doctor should review these reports on a daily basis:
Procedure report: Check for accuracy with an eye for procedures that were scheduled but not completed. Why not? Are there procedures listed that were unexpected? Perhaps a revisiting of treatment plan and scheduling protocol is needed.
Adjustments report: Scrutinize these especially the insurance write-off amounts. Are the categories very vague? Thousands of dollars categorized as “miscellaneous” is not indicative of much except that the stock adjustments were never customized.
Deposit slip: The money. Enough said! Actually not – you are looking at this side by side with your procedure report. For every restorative or surgical hygiene appointment you should see a corresponding payment amount. This shows that you are collecting copayments at time of service and not waiting patiently for the patient payment. This is my least favorite tongue twister.
Needed patient contact*: Are there any new patients that need to be called/thanked? What about patients who had difficult procedures? Some offices have a rule that anyone that received an injection receives a follow up call/text/email. Do you call scheduled new patients a day or two before their appointment to welcome them? *this is often manually kept/recorded by team members
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The common questions I receive revolve around who actually runs/reviews the reports. Are you in a small office without a manager? No problem – your receptionist can generate them and hand them to you at the end of the day. No exceptions. I’ll say it again: These reports should come in at the end of the day – no exceptions. Doctors, as a business owner these are your pulse points or presenting symptoms of a problem.
In a large practice with several managers? Your regional manager/supervisor should be reviewing these daily. A large chunk of their job description is metrics evaluation and reporting back to the owner/stakeholders. Daily monitoring can catch the receptionist in a far-flung location who has decided that copayments are not important enough to collect. It definitely happens.
The difference in demographics or patient behavior should be taken into account with multi-location practices. Sometimes one location will never have an impressive collection rate no matter how much effort is poured in. This is where report history helps us to understand and plan for these behaviors.
Finally what happens if you find anomalies in the reports? Perhaps there is one assistant who never remembers to post treatment changes? Or a receptionist who collects money but forgets to enter it? If the employee continues to make errors after you bring it to their attention then they have given you a gift. They are showing you that their place is not in your practice and with proper (and prompt!) documentation we can help these employees discover that there is life outside of your practice.
These situations happen across practices every day. Imagine how compounded your problems could be if you detected them only after extended staff issues or worse – a slowdown of cash flow. Daily attention to detail is not only good for the health of your practice but for your peace of mind!