Upgrade Your Dental Office Payment Options

By Brian Eggert, IC System

Here’s something you may not realize about Americans: We’re still pretty attached to paper checks, and your dental practice is probably no exception, even if credit card payments are still accepted at the front desk. Still, it’s pretty clear the paper check is on its way out. In one decade, the trusty check has gone from the most common form of non-cash payment to being eclipsed by debit cards, credit cards and electronic funds transfers, according to the Federal Reserve. Take steps to upgrade your dental office payment options. Reducing check payments also reduces the time and labor to process payments, allowing you to receive payment more quickly. This makes payment processing more efficient and decreases time and money spent on collections.

Start Accepting Electronic Insurance Payments
Dental practices have an opportunity to recapture time and money by making the switch to electronic funds transfers when processing insurance payments. According to the National Association of Dental Plans, only 11 percent of dental plans are not equipped to issue electronic payments. Yet in 2015, 92 percent of dental practices still accepted payment from health plans and providers by paper check, while the remaining 8 percent were considered fully electronic (ACH/EFT), according to the 2016 CAQH Index.

What’s interesting about this report is a majority of dental practices are already submitting claims (74 percent) and verifying eligibility and benefits (58 percent) through fully electronic means. Upgrading the system to one that accepts electronic payment from payers is the next logical step. When comparing the time spent and costs for every transaction, the savings benefits are clear:

  • Providers spend anywhere from 5-17 minutes on each paper check, versus 1-4 minutes on electronic payments.
  • Processing each check costs providers $2.89, compared to $0.69 per EFT.

Add Payment Features
In real life, patients are customers — people who have a lot of other bills to pay, and chances are, they’re using debit and credit cards. Along with that, it’s important to remember that in the span of a decade, customers now have an array of safe, easy and convenient ways to pay by credit card online and with their mobile devices. They value having control over when and where they pay. They also want to be sure it’s safe.

A secure online payment portal lets your patients pay on their terms. Even better, if the widget lets them set up automatic, recurring payments to pay down higher-cost procedures, that ensures on-time payments to you.

Adding mobile pay services at the front desk and online also is a simple and secure way to streamline the payment process for patients in and out of the office. These add another layer of security in the transaction, but allow customers to settle up without having to dig out their credit or debit cards.

Need collection help? Call us at 800.279.3511 to REQUEST PRICING!

IC System is an FDA Services (FDAS) Crown Savings Merchant. FDAS has researched and vetted business solutions so FDA members can take advantage of exclusive deals and discounts offered through the Crown Savings program. Members who participate will save time, money and hassle, putting the focus back on patient care. Crown Savings benefits members and the association as the program produces revenue for the FDA through use of the association’s trade dress and mailing list. Greater participation means more revenue for the association to add value to the FDA membership. For more information, go to fdaservices.com/ic-system.

Create Your Hurricane Crisis Plan Now!

By Carrie Millar, MBA, CAE, FDA Services Agency Manager

Life in sunny Florida can have many benefits; relatively warm weather year-round and access to beautiful beaches are just two upsides of living and practicing in this state. However, there also are some downsides, the worst being hurricanes. These destructive, swirling storms come barreling toward the peninsula almost every year and, although storms can vary in intensity, they always bring some sort of damage with them.

Is your practice prepared to handle the chaos that comes after a big storm? In a state where hurricanes are a normal part of life, it’s vital to have a hurricane/crisis plan ready for your practice in the event of an emergency. Not every plan is the same, but there are several hallmarks of an ideal strategy to keep in mind while crafting your readiness plan.

Decide when your practice will close and reopen.
Will your closing coincide with county schools and/or other government entities? Have a policy in place and be sure that both your employees and patients are aware of that policy.

Notify patients and staff if you need to close/reopen.
Keep updated emergency contact lists and create a notification system that can be used in any emergency scenario.

Make sure your practice can afford a couple days of closure.
Keep an emergency fund to help your practice survive in case you need to be closed for several days after a storm hits. Business income insurance and off-premises power failure coverage also will help with the costs, but they often have a 72-hour waiting period.

Protect your data!
Back up your practice’s data regularly and keep important documents in a weatherproof safe. Also, keep copies of important records, such as employee, vendor and client contact information, collected and backed up at a secure off-site location.

Update your inventory list.
Make sure you have an updated list of all the major assets in your practice, or even better, take a video of all the items. This is a great way to make sure you can account for all items in the event of a loss.

Make sure you’re covered!
Communicate annually with your insurance agent to review your coverage details. Ask about any additional coverage that may be right for your practice. Being prepared can make a difference.

Key Coverages to Have for Hurricane Season

1. Wind/Hail Coverage: Make sure that your policy has coverage for physical damage caused from wind; often there is a separate deductible for this coverage.

2. Business Income and Extra Expense: This coverage pays for your practice’s missed income when there is physical damage to your building. It also pays for temporary office space in the event of a larger damage amount.

3. Off-premises Power/Utility Services: In the event that you do not have any physical damage, you may still have to close your practice because of interruption of communication, power or water services. This coverage will help recoup some of that lost income.

4. Flood Insurance: We recommend that all business owners consider purchasing this coverage to have complete coverage for any water damage. While wind driven rain is covered by wind insurance, rising water is not.

Make sure to read the new hurricane insurance guide developed by FDA Services for the 2016 hurricane season, “Hurricane Proof: 2016 Practice Readiness Guide.”

This article was prepared by FDA Services. FDA Services’ experienced staff is ready to get to work for you. If you feel you need a review of your current insurance policies, call us at 800.877.7597 or email insurance@fdaservices.com.

 

Claim Scenario: Hired and Non-owned Auto

By Heidi Stearn, The Hartford, Outpatient Healthcare Program Director

Dr. Smith has a patient coming in for her dentures at 11 a.m. It already is 10:30 and the dental lab still has not dropped them off at the office. Dr. Smith does not want to reschedule the patient, so he asks his receptionist to go to the lab to pick them up in her car, which usually occurs a few times a week. As soon as the receptionist pulls out of the driveway, she rear ends another car. After calling the police, the receptionist realizes the other driver has no insurance and she knows the other driver is going to be looking for her to cover the damage and medical bills. Without thinking, the receptionist indicates that she was just leaving the dental office to pick up the dentures and feels awful about the accident.

A few months pass, and Dr. Smith receives a letter in the mail from an attorney indicating he is responsible for the damages his employee caused, given she was in the scope of work. Dr. Smith quickly calls his insurance agent and learns that he has hired/non-owned coverage and he won’t have to pay anything out of pocket, given this accident occurred in the scope of employment. If he did not have this coverage, his practice could be held liable for the damages that his employee caused. Make sure your office insurance policy has hired and non-owned auto liability insurance!

Heidi Stern is responsible for working with FDA Services on the insurance program. Call FDA Services at 800.877.7597 today for more information.