By Gretchen Hayden

Gretchen Hayden is a writer creating insightful content across the healthcare revenue cycle. She produces content for Zelis and previously for Sapphire Digital, a leading member navigation and shopping platform. With a deep interest in healthcare finance, Gretchen helps Zelis clients stay current on trends in the healthcare payments market, with an engaging and provocative perspective.

How to modernize your practice and better meet patient needs

In a world of non-stop claims and payments, unrelenting vendors, questions from patients and paperwork, it can be difficult to consider how a change to business—even a positive one—can fit in. While legislation such as the No Surprises Act (NSA) and the Transparency in Coverage Rule (TiC) has dramatically affected general health plans and providers in the past year (requiring by law that patients be provided better insight into cost of services before care) private dental providers have mostly been able to avoid the fray. Regulation requirements can remain in the periphery.

Regardless of the impact of the NSA and TiC to your practice, the fact of the matter is that a patient’s experience and expectation about healthcare is about to be forever-changed by this shifting regulatory landscape. Patients have access to more information, more options and will expect MORE from all corners of care. Providers who modernize and streamline their business transactions can spend more time focusing on care and enhancing patients’ experience.

Those who don’t risk fading out of relevance like an old mix tape.

Looking at the data

It’s no secret: running a dental practice is a constant balancing act. The average median overhead is about 62% and difficult to reduce as patient support is a critical component. Rather than being able to focus on patient needs or improving business, staff are often left frustrated from dealing with insurance carriers and tracking down payments. And as labor shortages plague the industry overall, burnout in current employees has become a true hurdle.

One simple solution is to implement electronic payments. Practices that modernize back-office processes via electronic claims payments can increase efficiency and reduce employee burnout, allowing more energy for a patient-focused practice.

To that, patients will be more aware of their experiences with medical and dental providers as pricing and quality information becomes more available. Because of the aforementioned price transparency rules, patients expect more conversations about pricing. In fact, in a recent survey, almost two-thirds of patients reported that there is not enough information regarding the cost of medical services before the time of service. While 70% of patients would like to discuss costs with their providers, only 28% of them said doctors or their staff brought up a price conversation with them prior to service.

It may seem contradictory, but streamlining and digitizing claims payments to your practice after service frees up your ability to address concerns before service, which can better align your practice with patient expectations.

Getting Started & Positioning for the Future

You may have taken the plunge into electronic payment by implementing automated clearing house (ACH) payments. If so, you’re ahead of the game. Only 16% of dental claims payments were fully electronic in 2021. But ACH payments are merely the foundation for maturing digital payment strategies. Providers must develop strategies with a trusted payments partner that consider both where the industry is now and how to take incremental steps towards an evolving world of faster payments.

It is vital to prepare for short-term and long-term needs. Establish goals that align with industry movements to ensure you are staying ahead of the curve.

Modernize Claims Payments for
Employee (and Patient!) Satisfaction

It’s time to retire 1980s-era payments. The key is to look at transformation as an opportunity, rather than a forced change. A switch to digital claim payments reduces costs, accelerates cash flow and improves security, not to mention relieves administrative staff of the constant hassle of tracking down payments. When your practice’s payments can align with how quickly the rest of the world is moving, it alleviates the stress of questions, adjustments, confusion—and the dreaded burnout.

If you’d like to learn more about how to modernize the financial experience for you, your staff, and your patients, please visit the dental practices page at Zelis.