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Practice Policies for Mobile Devices
Marianne Harper

Being connected is very important to so many of us. It is for me and an incident occurred recently that proved that to me. My email service provider was unable to provide service for over two days. This left me feeling as though I was missing some very important connections because my business depends upon that connectivity, and I worried that this would impact my business. Not everyone has a need for business connectivity but personal connectivity still seems to be just as significant to individuals. Many dental practice employees fall into that group.

Most individuals carry their devices with them wherever they go. This means that many dental practice employees come to work with their mobile devices. Does your practice have a policy in place to deal with this issue? It needs to!

There are some obvious problems associated with employee use of mobile devices in dental practices. Certainly we realize that attention is diverted from work when these devices are in use. Distraction, both while the device is in use and after, can also result. Then the question can arise as to other employees seeing an employee who is using his or her device and deciding that, if it is allowed for that employee, then it should be allowed for him or her.

Other not so obvious risks are in place. Many of these types of devices have cameras. HIPAA issues can arise. Photos of confidential patient information such as social security numbers and credit cards can be taken. Individuals who are on the other end of conversations on a mobile phone can possibly overhear confidential conversations during the call. In addition, it is possible to transmit electronic patient files through some of these devices.

All dental practices need to address this situation. Policies need to be in place to deal with it fairly and should be a part of a practice policy manual which has been read, with all policies acknowledged by each employee. There are several policies that can be set up to address this situation. A practice may request that no mobile devices be brought into the office which will prevent any of these problems. Other practices may possibly allow these devices to be brought into the office but that the devices be turned off and stowed either in a locker, a desk or a purse kept out of the clinical area or business office area. Staff should be required to make any non-emergency personal phone calls during breaks, lunch breaks or at the end of the work day. Photos taken by these devices should not be allowed. Dental practices will need to set up policies dealing with the consequences of employees not adhering to these policies.

As you can see, this is a vital component of making your practice HIPAA compliant.
  Insurance Alert
Dental – If your practice is contracted with insurance plans, you need to file claims with your usual fees, not the contracted fees, and to write off adjustments after posting the charges or after posting the insurance payment. The reasons for doing so are:
Most large carriers collect the fees that are submitted and use this data to develop future contracted fees. If you are submitting less than your usual fees, you are lowering that average.
If the contracted plan raises its allowable fees but doesn't notify practices of this, any practice that files with only the allowable fee will not receive the increased fees.
Zip code databases of average fees for that area that are compiled from dental claims will not be correct and will adversely affect dentists in that area.
If full fees are reported on claims that involve secondary carriers, the secondary carriers may pay more than the primary's contracted fee which can result in a write off of all or part of the primary carrier's required write off.
Medical – Appeal letters – Cross coded medical claims can certainly be a challenge at times. Denials often come down to proving medical necessity through an appeal letter. Dental practices need to keep track of the more common types of procedures that result in appeals to develop a method for handling these appeals. This should involve creating fill-in-the-blank appeal letters for each type. This will create much more efficiency and speed in the resolution of the appeals.
  Time Line
Update Time is Now –
Medical Codes and Dental Codes for 2013
And your updated medical coding manual contains the new CDT codes also
CPT Code (medical procedure code set) will update as of January 1, 2013. Purchasers of "CrossWalking – A Guide Through the CrossWalk of Dental to Medical Coding" and/or the "Quick Look Up Cross Code List" – you should have received an email that provides information on the way to order the update. Medical insurance carriers will not accept outdated codes and will deny claims for that reason. I am offering a less expensive update to the paper manual this year in an electronic format. So take advantage of the savings and keep your codes up to date.
Effective since 2011 – Medicare now requires that all physician and non-physician practitioners that submit Medicare claims must be enrolled in PECOS (Provider Enrollment, Chain and Ownership System) as well as all ordering and referring practitioners, or claims may not be paid. Practitioners can enroll online at
Effective since January 1, 2012 – All covered entities listed below are required to upgrade to HIPAA 5010 Standards which are new sets of standards that regulate the electronic transmission of specific healthcare transactions including eligibility, claim status, referrals, claims, and remittances. Covered entities may use a clearinghouse to assist them with complying with the rules.
Additionally, even though software vendors are not included in the list of covered entities, in order to support their customers they will need to upgrade their products to support HIPAA 5010 and NCDPD D.0 as a business imperative.
October 1, 2014 – The new date for ICD-10 implementation

Favorite Quotes:
"A high-speed connection is no more an essential civil right than 3G cell phone service or a Netflix account. Increasing competition and restoring academic excellence in abysmal public schools is far more of an imperative to minority children than handing them iPads."
Michelle Malkin

During this holiday season we are more "other" centered. Let's make a concerted effort to extend that throughout the year. The result – more harmonious relationships at home and at work.

Points of Interest:
Christmas and Hanukkah both are celebrated in December each year but there have been several times when both Christmas and the first day of Hanukkah have fallen on the same date in the last 100 years. Those years were 1918, 1921, 1959 and 2005.

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The Art of Practice Management
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