Save time by teaching patients how to manage their own insurance benefits.
Dental insurance benefits can be a thorn in our side. Checking benefits, eligibility, and maximums for our patients is a nice service to provide, but it also requires significant time–time that we could spend doing other things to help manage the practice. There needs to be a balance so that verifying insurance information is a genuine customer service benefit and not a hand-holding exercise. The insurance benefits belong to the patient, not to the practice, and we need to hone the verbal skills to help our patients understand this.
One thing I have been doing with my practices is teaching them to transfer that ownership back to the patient in a way that is beneficial to the patient and not too time-consuming for the practice. The easiest, most efficient way I have found is using the eCentral Insurance Eligibility feature inside of your Dentrix software. Have you seen the “E” icon on appointments in the Dentrix Appointment Book or the Insurance block of the Family File and wondered what it does? All you have to do is click on the little “E” and it searches for that patient’s insurance benefits and provides you with an instant, real-time benefits breakdown and maximum used. Really. It is that simple.
The color of the Eligibility icon indicates the patient’s eligibility status. A blue E on a white background indicates that the patient is eligible for benefits. A gray E on a yellow background can indicate that the patient’s eligibility is questionable, has not been checked, was entered manually in the past five days, isn’t supplied by the insurance company through eCentral, or that the patient doesn’t have insurance. In these instances, the patient probably needs to follow up with his or her insurance company.
Now I know some of you are saying, “Sounds great, but I am not going to spend the money on eCentral.” I respect your desire to save a dollar, but I want you to look at whether this is one of those expenses that will actually make you money. If you can cut down on the time your front office is spending on the phone with insurance companies by just one hour, your front office could be spending that time calling patients with unscheduled treatment or past due hygiene appointments. Also, one hour a day in increased productivity adds up to a lot more profits for the entire team.
Let me share with you some of my tips in using this amazing tool.
Suggestions When Dealing With Patient Insurance Benefits
What has worked really well for many offices is to print a copy of the electronic benefits for the patient and then send a copy to the patient’s Document Center for your reference. Now, how you hand off the information to the patient makes a big impact on how much hand holding you will need to do in the future. So here are some of my best suggestions:
- When you print the eligibility benefits from eCentral for the patient, highlight a few key pieces of information (insurance company phone number, maximum and coverage percentages).
- Hand the patient the printed copy of his or her benefits and say something like, “I took the liberty of checking on your dental benefits for you and here is what we received from your plan. Notice I have highlighted some of the important things about your plan. One thing I want to point out is that if there is a procedure you need that is not on this printed copy, then we don’t know how much your insurance company will pay, so we estimate zero.”
- Let patients know that if they would like more details about their plan, you highlighted the insurance company’s phone number for them.
Using eCentral Insurance Eligibility will help you to strengthen your relationships with your patients, and they will trust you more. That trust will help build your practice and grow your referrals.
Visit https://www.dentrix.com/products/eservices/ecentral/insurance-manager to get more information about checking eligibility with the Insurance Manager.
For more tips designed for Dentrix Office Managers, subscribe to the Dentrix Office Manager blog at thedentrixofficemanager.blogspot.com.
By Dayna Johnson, Certified Dentrix Trainer
Dayna Johnson, founder and principal consultant of Rae Dental Management, helps dental offices improve patient care, increase collections, and reduce staff headaches by implementing efficient management systems. With 20 years of experience in the business and technical side of dental offices, Dayna’s passion for efficient systems is grounded in both personal understanding and professional expertise. Dayna can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website at www.raedentalmanagement.com.
Originally published in Dentrix Magazine, Winter 2016