Staying current is a challenge that places additional pressure on dentists and their teams. One of the most important but often underutilized technologies in the practice is the existing practice management software. If appropriately configured and leveraged to its maximum, practice management software can streamline the flow in the dental office, increase legitimate reimbursement and provide invaluable information about the office’s operations.
Invest in ongoing training for the entire team; statistics show the average dental practice only utilizes 20% of its practice management software’s capabilities. In addition, be aware of the importance of entering data accurately so reports, claims, and management information from the software are also accurate.
Upcoming changes in the industry are expected to directly affect practice management software.
Here are three steps to take to be prepared:
- Ensure your practice management software is Electronic Health Record (EHR) compliant. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services summarize the EHR:
- “An Electronic Health Record (EHR) is an electronic version of a patient’s medical history, that is maintained by the provider over time, and may include all of the key administrative clinical data relevant to that person’s care under a particular provider, including demographics, progress notes, problems, medications, vital signs, past medical history, immunizations, laboratory data, and radiology reports.” The EHR automates access to information and has the potential to streamline the clinician’s workflow. The EHR also has the ability to support other care-related activities directly or indirectly through various interfaces, including evidence-based decision support, quality management, and outcomes reporting.
- EHRs can strengthen the relationship between patients and clinicians and will enable providers to make better decisions and provide better care.
- Some states have mandated compliance with the EHR rules while others are considering it. Eventually, it’s expected that compliance with the EHR will be mandated across the US.
- Prepare to submit claims with ICD diagnosis codes affixed. Arizona, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, and Vermont have begun the process to require the listing of diagnosis codes to support treatment provided for Medicaid patients before claims will be processed. Talk to your software vendors about compliance before it’s required. Furthermore, begin submitting medical claims for services covered by medical insurance.
- Know how regulatory mandates (like HIPAA) affect the software, and maintain compliance. Although compliance is a moving target, ignorance of these changes is never an excuse.
Work with your practice management software vendors and their trainers to ensure the software reduces your risk and maximizes your return and that the team is capable of utilizing the software to its maximum potential.
Staying up-to-date and compliant is challenging but also possible with minimal time and effort unless systems are ignored for an extended period of time. The return on investment will certainly outweigh the effort.
About the Author: Dr. Roy Shelburne graduated from the University of Virginia with a double major in Biology and Religious Studies in 1977. He went on to graduate with honors from Virginia Commonwealth University’s Dental School and opened a private general practice in Pennington Gap, Virginia, in 1981. In March 2008, he surrendered his dental license after being convicted of health care fraud and spent 19 months in federal prison and two months in a halfway house. Dr. Shelburne is a nationally known speaker/writer/consultant and an American Dental Association Subject Matter Expert who openly shares his mistakes, what he learned as a result, and how to avoid those career-ending errors.