Learn how to manage your revenue stream prior to treatment, at time of service, and after treatment.
Regardless of your position in the practice, or whether you are part of a large DSO or a quaint, individual practice, you should be familiar with the term revenue cycle management and what the concept could mean for your business. Revenue cycle management, often referred to as RCM, is the process used by professionals in the healthcare industry to track and manage revenue coming into the organization. While RCM is an established topic of interest in the greater healthcare industry, it’s just now becoming more widely adopted in the dental space.
Although RCM concepts and practices are definitely gaining traction in the industry, we still have a lot of work to do in educating people about the benefits of actively managing revenue flows into their practices. In a recent survey we conducted of members of the American Association of Dental Office Management (AADOM), we asked whether the term “revenue cycle management” meant anything to them as it relates to the dental industry. Fifty percent of the respondents replied that they are either not at all familiar with the term (28 percent) or have heard of the term but don’t know how it relates to them (22 percent).
In order for RCM programs to be the most effective, the entire staff not only needs to buy off on the idea, but they also need to be properly educated on what it actually means. That said, one of the first concepts a dental office staff needs to understand is that RCM does not begin after a dental procedure is completed; it’s something that must begin well before treatment. Let’s take a look at the RCM process based on the treatment cycle to help establish how RCM fits into the workflow at a typical practice. For the purpose of this article, we will break down the process into activities prior to treatment, at the time of treatment, and after treatment has been completed.
Prior to Treatment
At first glance, it may seem like it’s too early to think about RCM before the patient has even come in for treatment. It’s not. The most effective RCM programs have elements that begin as early as a prospective patient’s first call into the office. When a patient makes a call into the office to book an appointment, the savvy office staff will take the opportunity to verify all patient contact information including mobile phone numbers and email addresses. This will facilitate collecting any payments due when that time comes. It’s also a great idea to collect and verify any available insurance information at that time as well. The Dentrix Insurance Manager can help you with the often arduous task of managing insurance eligibility verification.
At Time of Service
When the patient comes in for treatment, there are several steps that you should take to improve the RCM process. First, you should determine if there have been changes to the information you previously collected. One critical action that is often overlooked is to ask for payments at the time of service (assuming you know the extent of services to be performed). The best-case scenario is to collect the entire estimated patient due portion prior to actual service. It’s not ideal to ask for a payment when the effects of the nitrous oxide are still wearing off or the patient has a mouth numb from Novocaine. In situations where patients are not able to make the entire payment at the time of service, you could set up payment plan arrangements through Dentrix Pay or even arrange payment through the CareCredit integration in Dentrix.
Despite all your efforts to collect payments or make payment arrangements at the time of service, there are invariably times when you will have to send billing statements. The key is to collect payment as early as possible as the older a balance becomes the less likely you are to collect the full amount. Through Dentrix QuickBill, you can send electronic statements or have printed bills mailed automatically to your patients without having to wait until month-end or having to perform the tedious fulfillment yourself. You can also use the tool to send electronic statements.
To fully implement an effective RCM program will take lots of dedication from the whole team. Good luck!
To learn more about revenue cycle management and the Dentrix-related products that support the RCM process, contact a Dentrix specialist at 844-853-2285.
By Ken Woodbury
Senior Marketing Manager, Henry Schein One