Dental Practice Task Outsourcing: Is it for You?
Like most dentists, you went to Dental School to be a dentist. How much time of your dental training was related to practice management and business? Yet, to be a successful dental practice owner, you need to run your practice as a successful business. If you’re like many dentists, the managerial and administrative components of your practice will feel more burdensome every year. They could actually be taking you away from seeing patients—the original reason you chose this profession. You decide to grin and bear it, but that could burn you out and whittle away further the enjoyment and passion you originally had for dentistry. Or, you can get help.
You basically have two options:
- a) Make another full time, or part-time hire, to take some of these tasks off your plate; OR
- b) Outsource some of them to a specialist.
But before you start making calls to outsource your biggest headache, there’s a bit of homework you need to do first.
Analyze your practice to understand your pain points. One of the chief benefits of outsourcing dental practice tasks is that you can pay for the exact quantity and quality of expertise you need. Don’t just think of the mundane operational tasks that eat into YOUR valuable time. Instead, look at the entire practice to see where else there may be issues.
Most dental outsourcing providers can fulfill multiple requirements, so addressing separate areas of your dental practice is fairly easy. Not to mention their pricing models will incentivize you to do more business with them. Your practice analysis may uncover a few areas that, if improved, would increase your overall practice profitability. Then you can begin to prioritize and decide which ones you need to tackle. Let’s look at some of the most common areas to outsource:
Appointments and Scheduling
The secret to a successful practice is to operate at or near full capacity. That means converting new patient inquiries into first-time visits, calling patients to make sure they keep their appointments, and chasing lapsed patients to come in for hygiene visits. By contracting a specialist to support improvements across all of those areas, you may suddenly find that you need to do less on the marketing front to offset patient attrition. Not to mention your receptionist can be freed up to help in other areas of your practice.
When considering outsourcing the following functions, be well informed about the services that will be provided.
- New-patient calls
- Schedule confirmations
- Re-care scheduling
- Treatment follow-up and scheduling
Understand precisely how they plan to answer telephone calls and follow up with patients. You are the guardian of your company culture, and appointments and scheduling are front-line customer-facing roles. These roles are the beginning of the patient experience and need to be of the highest quality.
Deciding whether or not to outsource marketing is usually really a decision about marketing or not marketing your practice. Because most of us are not Google or Facebook Ads experts and these platforms can be a little time consuming to learn, the chances are we would need to outsource if they are an essential part of our marketing strategy. However, the advantage is that you gain the help of experts, who can look at your practice’s needs, how many new customers you require per month, and design a plan to target these efficiently and effectively. Even if you’re not looking to do paid advertising, you can find professional help for:
- Monthly emails
- Social media posting and management
- Website design to improve both layout and SEO
- Newsletters and promotional email communication
A well laid-out marketing plan will increase your conversion rates from treatment promotions, or bring you more customers because your practice has greater visibility in Google searches. These can help improve your bottom line. Our opinion is if you are not an expert, leave these tasks for someone who is!!
Every dental practice owner I talk to laments over the increasing complexity of insurance. The ideal scenario for an insurance company is not to have to pay. To avoid that, you need to follow their processes to the letter, getting it right the first time. By outsourcing, you work with experts who know precisely what each insurance company likes to receive and how they wish to receive it. Minimizing time wasted on call-backs and resubmissions can improve both your collection rate and your cash flow.
But keep in mind that the quality of their insurance submissions will depend on having accurate information supplied by your team. Provide them with insufficient or incorrect information, and you might as well have submitted the claim incorrectly yourself.
Invoicing and Collections
Insurance claims will account for a significant proportion of your revenue from routine visits, but highly profitable dental treatments are often self-paid out of pocket. Prompt invoicing and collections will improve your cash flow, while improved accuracy will save you bookkeeping headaches. Many outsourcing solutions include specially designed software packages to streamline your accounting. Similar to insurance, billing software is only effective when correctly used. Garbage In/Garbage Out, as they say. Ensure that any software provider you’re considering offers a fair degree of training and support time for your team, both at the beginning and for the duration of the contract period, in the event you need training a new employee.
Depending on the type of practice you have, dental practice outsourcing can be a great solution to some of your operational headaches. Make sure your first step is analyzing your practice’s needs carefully. If you eventually decide to outsource some of your operations, make sure you communicate this carefully with your team. Removing tasks from your staff can lower employee morale very quickly if not managed properly. “They want to free me up a little to do XYZ” is a much better employee takeaway than, “They think I can’t do my job very well, so they gave it some other company.” Dentistry becomes a lot more enjoyable when you have a happy and productive team, and you can go back to focusing on your area of expertise.
If you have confidence that your staff can handle most tasks well, with a bit more training, you may be interested in some of our practical e-learning courses designed specifically to improve dental practice management and operations.?
About NGT Academy
We are one of the few turnkey Learning Management System providers that specializes in the dental industry. Our platform contains dental-specific eLearning courses designed to help you with dental practice operations and all other aspects of dental practice management.
Did you know eLearning typically costs at least 30% less than conventional training? It could be a truly efficient solution for your dental organization.