Dental Billing

How to Choose the Best Dental Billing Company

April 9, 2024

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I'm Amanda — Founder of Essential Dental Services. I've immersed myself in the world of dentistry for nearly two decades.

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Knowing how to chose the best dental billing company is tricky. Managing the financial aspect of a dental practice is no easy feat. It requires attention to detail, an understanding of complex billing codes and regulations, and the ability to balance the books in the most advantageous way for your practice. For many dental professionals, outsourcing billing services to a third-party company is not just a luxury but a necessity to ensure administrative burdens don’t distract from patient care and practice growth.

However, the sheer number of dental billing companies in the market can make the decision of which one to choose a daunting one. How do you pick the right company that meshes with the unique needs and values of your practice?

This comprehensive guide is designed to demystify the process of selecting a dental billing company that not only manages your accounts efficiently but also becomes an integral part of your practice’s success.

Considerations When Choosing a Dental Billing Company

Selecting a dental billing company is a significant decision that involves trust, technology, and transparency. Here are the essential factors to consider:

Is It US Based?

The first step is to ensure that the dental billing company you are considering is based in the United States. This might seem like a trivial matter, but it’s pivotal for several reasons. A US-based billing company will have a better understanding of local regulations and compliance issues that are crucial for accurate and ethical billing practices. This proximity also brings a level of responsiveness and availability that can be invaluable, especially when dealing with time-sensitive matters.

Who Will Be Your Account Manager?

A critical aspect of the billing company is the individual who will be managing your accounts. This is the person who you will rely on to understand the intricacies of your practice and to communicate the financial health and decisions of your practice back to you.

Ask for the credentials and experience of the account manager who will be assigned to your practice. Ideally, they should have a background in dental billing and a history of managing accounts similar to yours. Learn a bit more about us here at EDS!

Security in Remote Connection

In this digital age, most billing companies will require remote access to the computer systems in your dental office. This comes with significant security risks, so it is imperative to discuss the protocols they have in place to protect sensitive patient data.

Inquire about their cyber-security measures, such as encrypted connections, secure servers, and employee access policies. A reputable billing company will be transparent about their security infrastructure and more than willing to discuss it with you.

Communication and Responsiveness

Your billing company should be just that—a company that you can communicate with easily and that responds to your queries and concerns in a timely fashion. Understand how the billing company prefers to be contacted and what their typical response times are.

Beyond their policies, gauge the actual responsiveness during your interactions with company representatives. A billing company that values clear and prompt communication will save you a lot of headaches in the long run.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Different Billing Approaches

There are different models in which dental billing companies operate. Understanding the pros and cons of each model can guide you to the approach that best aligns with your needs.

Traditional In-house Billing vs. Outsourcing

In-house billing means that you or someone you employ manages the billing operations within your practice. While this provides ultimate control and immediate access, it can be costly and it may not be the highest and best use of your or your staff’s time.

Outsourcing, on the other hand, can cut costs, especially for smaller practices, and may offer access to more sophisticated processes and technologies. The disadvantage can be the perceived lack of control, but with appropriate oversight, this is a manageable risk.

Flat Rate vs. Percentage Billing

Some billing companies charge a flat rate for their services, while others take a percentage of your practice’s collections. The right choice for your practice depends on the volume and value of services you provide.

A flat rate can offer cost predictability, which is valuable for budgeting purposes. However, if the percentage model is aligned with your collections, it may offer an incentive for the billing company to maximize your revenue.

Technology and Reporting Capabilities

The billing software and technologies a company uses can significantly impact the efficiency and visibility you have into your practice’s financial operations.

Ensure that the company you are considering uses state-of-the-art, HIPAA-compliant software with robust reporting capabilities. This will allow you to track performance, identify trends, and make strategic decisions to grow your practice.

Revenue Cycle Management (RCM)

A full-service dental billing company will offer comprehensive Revenue Cycle Management (RCM). This encompasses the process from scheduling appointments through to the final payer remittance for services provided.

A good RCM system optimizes processes for maximum efficiency and will often lead to higher collections and faster payments, which is paramount for the health of your practice.

Customization and Integration

Every dental practice is unique, and the best billing companies recognize this by offering customization options. They should be able to tailor their services to your particular needs, workflow, and software systems.

Furthermore, their technology should integrate seamlessly with your practice management system, ensuring a smooth transition and a coherent billing flow.

Evaluating Cost and Return on Investment (ROI)

Determining the cost-effectiveness of a dental billing company’s services can be complex. While the direct cost of their services is a significant consideration, it’s not the only expense. You also must factor in the opportunity cost of not dedicating your practice’s resources to billing and the potential return on investment.

Calculate the company’s fees against the increase in collectibles and the decrease in billing errors and delays. The right billing company should pay for itself and then some, by increasing your practice’s revenue.

Hidden Costs

Don’t forget to ask about any potential hidden costs such as setup fees, transaction costs, or additional charges for extra services. A thorough cost analysis will help avoid any unpleasant surprises down the line.

The Human Element in Dental Billing

While technology and processes are essential, the human side of the billing company is equally important.

Staff Training and Turnover

The billing company should invest in training their staff to keep up with the latest billing and coding regulations. Regular turnover of staff can be disruptive, so understanding their employee retention strategies and training programs is crucial.

Professionalism and Courtesy

The billing company’s staff will be an extension of your practice, and their professionalism and courtesy reflect on you.

Ask for references and check reviews and client satisfaction surveys. This will give you a sense of the company’s reputation and the kind of working relationship you can expect.

Making the Final Decision

After considering the above factors, the final decision often comes down to the intangible aspects of the relationship.

Company Culture Fit

Look for a billing company with a culture that aligns with your practice’s values. This will ensure a smoother integration and a more enjoyable working relationship.

Trial Period

Many billing companies offer a trial period. Take advantage of this to test their services and evaluate their performance in a real-world setting before making a long-term commitment.

In conclusion, choosing a dental billing company is a significant decision with potential long-term implications for your practice’s success. Utilize the information and strategies in this guide to conduct thorough research, ask the right questions, and ultimately select a company that will optimize your revenue cycle and enhance your patient care experience. Remember, the best dental billing company for you is one that operates with transparency, professionalism, and a commitment to your practice’s unique needs.

Be sure to check out our podcast episode talking about the ins and outs of outsourcing here!

Amanda DeMoura and Sarah Hamlin deliver a podcast dedicated to helping dental professionals navigate the intricacies of running a successful dental practice. Whether you're a seasoned practice owner, new dentist, or a dental professional looking to enhance your managerial skills, this podcast is your go-to resource for valuable insights, expert advice, and actionable strategies.

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