The Art of Practice Management's Dental Pearls
The Art of Practice Management
A dental practice management consulting company that focuses on revenue and collection systems, front desk systems and forms, dental insurance processing, medical/dental cross-coding systems and employment-law compliance.
Marianne Harper The economy – it is on everyone’s minds. Most dental offices that I have spoken with have been affected by this down economy to some degree and we have yet to see the light at the end of the tunnel. So what can be done to get us through these tough times? I suggest that you invest some time in meeting with your team to come up with some strategies in the following areas:
  • Marketing – review both your internal and external marketing. Internal marketing has proven to be very successful and less costly.
  • Purchasing – Does your practice need to have more controls regarding dental supply and office supply purchases? Take inventory of your supplies to evaluate what supplies are truly needed. Any new purchases should be approved by either the doctor or the office manager. Seek advice from your CPA before making any capital expenditures.
  • Accounts Receivable Controls – Now, more than ever, the Accounts Receivable must be closely monitored. Accounts that have reached 60 days must be contacted. Many practices follow the policy that 90 days or over is when action needs to be taken. I strongly disagree. At 60 days, your patient has already received two statements (current and 30 days). That is sufficient. Contact those patients to resolve the debt. Consider offering CareCredit or a similar financial plan to these patients. You cannot afford to carry the debt of these patients.
  • Treatment planning – Be certain that you are treatment planning with all of your patients. No patient should be surprised by what they owe your practice. When dealing with an insured patient’s coinsurance estimate, always emphasize that you are providing them an ESTIMATED coinsurance.
  • Incomplete treatment plans – Take advantage of the tools that your practice management software provides. Pull up a list of incomplete treatment plans and contact those patients. Remind patients that are covered by insurance that the year is drawing to a close and that they might want to take advantage of the full year’s maximum benefits before having to pay a new deductible again.
  • Past due recare patients – Again, print a list of patients that are past due with their recare appointments.
  • Lastly, make sure that your office is still the BEST that it can be. Review your practice vision with the staff to be sure that it is being followed. From the initial first phone call of a new patient through the completion of a treatment plan, make it the best possible experience for that patient. That patient needs to know that his/her hard earned dollars have been well spent.
Time Line
Medical Coding
  • October 1, 2008 marked the date that the 2009 ICD-9-CM (diagnosis codes) must be used. If you are a past purchaser of my manual, "CrossWalking - A Guide Through the CrossWalk of Dental to Medical Coding", you should have received a letter or email concerning the update that I have made available to you. If you have not contacted me regarding this update, you need to do so as soon as possible, as medical insurance carriers will not accept codes that have been deleted. January 1, 2009 will be the date that the 2009 CPT code-set must be used.
  • Effective July 24, 2008, the Federal minimum wage increased to $6.55 per hour. You are required to have current labor posters that reflect this change displayed in your practice. This rate will change to $7.25 on July 24, 2009.

My Favorite Quotes:
"You can tell what they are by what they do"
Matthew 7:16 CEV

This quote sums up the importance of doing your best for your patients. Practices that truly care about their patients and work hard toward that end will become known for that. That is the best possible marketing tool that you can use.

Dental-Medical CrossWalking News
A date has finally been set for the implementation of ICD-10-CM (medical diagnosis codes). At present, the United States is the only country not using ICD-10-CM. CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) and HHS (the Department of Health and Human Services) made this proposal on August 22, 2008. The ICD-10-CM code-set is alpha-numeric. According to HHS, the improvements of ICD-10-CM over ICD-9-CM are:
  • Expanded injury coding
  • A reduction in the number of codes used to fully report a condition due to the creation of combination diagnosis/symptom codes
  • Greater specificity of code assignment

For our patients
The April 2008 issue of "Inside Dentistry" published the results of a recent study shown in the January issue of the "Journal of Periodontology" regarding the effect of the routine intake of dairy products on the periodontal health of the participants. "The study analyzed the periodontal health of 942 subjects and determined that those who regularly consumed dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt had a lower instance of periodontal disease." We need to share this news with our patients and encourage them to consume more of these dairy products.

Insurance Filing
Fluoride Varnish
According to the July 2008 issue of "Pediatric Dentistry Today", dental practices may be using fluoride and varnish codes incorrectly. The article states that "When it comes to reporting the application of fluoride varnish, the patient’s diagnosis drives the code. Why was fluoride varnish used? Was it used to remineralize incipient carious lesions, or was it used to treat root sensitivity?" In other words, code according to the diagnosis and not the product used. The protocol that they suggest is the following:


Use Code
0 to 6 no caries or other additional factors within the last 24 months
6 to 14 no caries or other additional factors within the last 36 months
14 & up     no caries or other additional factors within the last 36 months
All other patients

Dental Humor for the quarter:
"What does the dentist of the year get?...........A little plaque"


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The Art of Practice Management
2217 Fox Horn Road  •  New Bern, NC 28562  •  Phone: 1-252-637-6259   •
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