By Kyle Koltz, SKYGEN
More and more dental practices are moving to electronic administrative transactions, according to the 2021 CAQH Index, which has been measuring electronic adoption among medical and dental providers for the last decade. At 48%, that number among dental practices is expected to grow as healthcare organizations make greater investments in technology in order to improve administrative automation, and the patient experience.
Here are four reasons for providers to embrace technology to modernize their dental practices.
- Meet consumer demand for automation
Thanks to smartphones and the internet, consumers expect answers to their questions at their fingertips, and that includes information about their oral health and insurance benefits. Dental healthcare organizations are rolling out mobile app technology to enable a more efficient and on-demand experience for patients and providers. App technology will help to improve member experiences by providing plan information, benefit eligibility and member education materials all in a single, portable place. Not only will mobile apps help people find dental providers, they will provide a direct line of communication between patients and providers.
- Carve out more time for patient care
Automated technologies are making possible a fully electronic relationship between payers and providers, from contracting and credentialing to submitting claims to receiving reimbursement. The more time dentists can save on administrative tasks, the more time they have to do what they went to dental school for, delivering patient care. And the more they’re focused on care, the more likely they are to deliver the level of quality their patients deserve.
Technologies such as on-demand online access for providers further improves the relationship by enabling dentists to obtain answers to questions about pending authorizations, claim payment status and more. Online access to information can dramatically reduce call volumes to payers, making dental offices more efficient.
- Reduce paperwork for administrative staff
Automation increases efficiency by replacing manual processes, paper-based transactions and analog communications with electronic options. Payer platforms built specifically for dental benefits administration versus medical benefits platforms adapted for dental, are more aligned with provider needs.
Currently, 71% of dental practices in the CAQH report relied on electronic transactions to determine patient eligibility and benefit verification. Going a step further with technology, instant explanation of benefits (EOBs) gives an accurate calculation — not an estimate — of the amount a provider will be paid and provides patients the information they need to make informed decisions about their treatment.
At 84%, electronic claims submission is the most widely adopted electronic transaction in dental, according to CAQH, helping to reduce errors and save dental practices time and money. Artificial intelligence (AI) is the next wave of automation that will streamline simple but time-consuming tasks for dental practices to improve operational efficiency.
- Improve efficiency and profitability
The typical dental practice loses upwards of 9% of its revenue each year in patient accounts receivable. Replacing manual paperwork with electronic options, such as instant EOBs and real-time claims processing, takes the guesswork out of billing, benefitting both providers and patients. With all of the details of what insurance will pay and what the patient owes, providers can collect the amount due at the time of service, and patients no longer have to worry about dental bills arriving weeks later.
Additionally, providers who submit claims electronically and accept payments by electronic funds transfer (EFT, ACH or virtual credit card) speed the processing of claims while reducing costs. Currently, just 16% on dental practices accept electronic payments, indicating an opportunity for improved practice efficiency.
As technology continues to advance, providers who embrace digital tools to manage their practices will help improve patient experiences, streamline administrative operations and increase profitability.
Kyle Kolz is chief operations officer, Third Party Administration, SKYGEN, responsible for advancing operational excellence, the satisfaction of customers, providers and members, and the bottom line revenue growth of SKYGEN’s administrative business lines.