You can't Recycle Wasted Time
Updated: Oct 29
Last week I was on a lunch break and decided to run through Chick-fil-a to grab something to eat. When I pulled up, I couldn’t believe the length of the line at the drive through.
Before the pandemic when I would go to Chick-fil-a and I would see a long drive thru line, I would just park my car and go inside.
Ever since COVID-19 infected our lives, Chick-fil-a closed their dining rooms, removing my little short cut. However, somehow Chick-fil-a managed to seal up leaks in their drive thru process so that the line moves so fast it typically takes only 5 minutes to get through a line of 10-20 cars.
COVID-19 brought about a lot of new protocols that forced us to adjust our habits to ensure the safety of our patients and co-workers. Now that we have found which practices have worked to keep us safe, let’s take a look at some areas that could be causing leaks (whether it be in time or money) in your practice. In my opinion, these are time wasters; the unnecessary printing and wasting of supplies.
Let’s start with what I consider to be huge time wasters in the office:
Treatment plan estimates
When talking with teams, many of them don’t trust the estimates that are in their system. For example, in Dentrix, the estimate on the treatment plan first looks at the payment table to see if there was any saved history for this plan on this code. If there isn’t any saved history, then it refers to the coverage table and develops an estimate based on the percentages.
When the percentages are entered wrong (or not at all) or if history is saved incorrectly, then there is no way for the estimate to be presented correctly. This causes teams members to have to calculate the estimate and override the system manually. With an extensive treatment plan this can be extremely time consuming.
Understanding how your software calculates the estimates and entering in the details correctly will save a lot of time in your practice.
Following up on claims
Proper methods of filing insurance claims are key in preventing wasted time. It’s important to know what procedures will need additional information such as x-rays, narratives or perio chart and sending those attachments the first time is essential. Often times we see claims go out with this information missing causing a delay in payment up to a few months.
When you file these documents when you initially sent the claim, payment will (should) be in a few weeks, instead of months. Filing claims electronically and knowing how to access your NEA number that went with the attachment will ensure faster reimbursement of claims.
It’s important to learn the rules of filing insurance claims because delays in these payments can cause a huge financial burden on the practice.
Handling Patient Paperwork
This is one of my biggest pet peeves and high on my list of time wasters. The first one I see more often than not is the printing and scanning of new patient paperwork. Many offices have their digital paperwork as a PDF on their website for the patient to print, fill out and bring to the office. The team will then scan in the paperwork into the computer. If the patient forgets it then the office prints it out for them and scans the documents.
There are dozens of third-party software companies that allow these forms to be filled out and signed digitally. Not only can they be filled out digitally, you can text the patient the paperwork so they can fill it out on their phone and it can write back into your software.
Taking your forms digital can save 3-5 minutes of time for each patient, resources of ink & paper and computer space as these documents get scanned into the computer. Finally, it’s saving yourself from having to hear the belly-aching as the clinical team is STILL waiting for the patient to fill out their paperwork.
Moving into the operatory, I too often see dental supplies are wasted in the practice. It is extremely important to have all the instruments necessary for treatment. Every time someone has to get up to get supplies or tools needed, they have to de-glove and then re-glove when they return to the patient.
Not only is this wasting time and elongating the appointment, you are using twice the number of gloves needed for each patient, and possibly multiple masks or gowns depending on how far you have to travel to get the missing supplies. Being well prepared not only makes sure the appointment runs smooth, it also helps the office to save on supplies.
Chick-fi-a recognized that with their dining rooms closed, the drive thru was going to be especially hectic. They moved their employees outside to take orders, and staged cones in their parking lots to guide cars through the additional drive thru lanes they created.
Look around your office -
· Can you see where time or supplies are being wasted?
· Are there documents that you can save as a PDF or print directly into your software so you don’t have to print and scan it in?
· Could the clinical team be more prepared in the operatory with their instruments and supplies?
· Is it time to invest on training of your software and taking time to correct mistakes and make sure treatment estimate calculations are trusted?
The costs to run a practice went up so much from last year, right now is the time to look around and see where you can help save the practice resources. Those of you that know me, know that I love to help offices to utilize their software to be more efficient and streamlined. If you find that you could use some help in this area, feel free to reach me at chris@GTSgurus.com.
If you love life, don’t waste time;
For time is what life is made up of.
~ Bruce Lee
Chris Ciardello, Consultant
Chris Ciardello joined Global Team Solutions as a consultant in 2013. As a practice management consultant, Chris is passionate about sharing his expertise in the areas of technology and marketing as it pertains to the dental office. Chris has a distinctive knack for understanding the needs of an office and he communicates those needs to the team, which creates a cohesive, productive atmosphere. He is a member of the Academy of Dental Management Consultants and Toastmasters International.
He can be reached at: Chris@GTSgurus.com.