New patient Jennifer Theobault arrived for her first appointment at a Bowling Green, Kentucky office recently. After being welcomed, she asked to meet Bridget.
Bridget had taken Jennifer's first call to the office, answered her questions, assured her that this office was a great choice for a new patient, scheduled an appointment, and gathered much of her new patient information over the phone, including insurance information. Later in the day, Bridget called Susan and told her there was a problem with her insurance eligibility and instructed her how to clear it up. Two days before the appointment, Bridget called to confirm the appointment time and verify the insurance problem was fixed.
Susan couldn't meet Bridget that day, because she wasn't in the Bowling Green office. In fact, Bridget lives in Idaho and never left her house during all her dealings with Susan.
After the appointment, Bridget will be responsible for billing the insurance, making sure the claim got paid correctly, and sending Jennifer's statement, if a balance is due.
Even though they talk all the time the dentist, too, will probably never meet Bridget in person. Yet, he is able to take advantage of her 20 years as a dental office manager, and she is able to work from home.
This unique service for dental practices was created by Planet DDS, Inc., and unveiled at the end of 2007 in the US. It is made possible by combining state-of-the-art web-based dental practice management software with a network of experienced stay-at-home workers. The software allows real time access to office data from anywhere. The workers are connected to the dental offices — and each other — through web-based call center software, which intelligently routes calls to the appropriate person. The workers are trained and monitored by Planet DDS representatives.
The advantages of this approach can be significant:
• Dentist and staff can focus their day-to-day activities on every dental office's primary mission — high quality patient care. The daily business activities that distract from the delivery care can be removed from the office.
• Revenue generation will increase. A virtual receptionist, removed from the daily patient distractions, will make sure appointments are confirmed, cancellation appointments are filled, and re-care patients are appointed. Additionally, she will make sure that your claims are billed accurately and timely and will follow up on any problem claims. She will also make sure patient billing is managed correctly. In short, she will make sure your schedules are full and your receivables are no larger than necessary.
• Expenses should decrease. By outsourcing these activities, it is likely that you will need less staff hours. In all likelihood, the cost of the virtual receptionist will be less than the staff hours that she is replacing.
• Management stress is decreased. No matter how clearly defined, certain business tasks simply go unattended in a busy dental practice. It takes constant surveillance and often, constant urging to make sure these important tasks are completed. A virtual receptionist is trained and monitored by professional managers. It is no longer the dentist's or manager's job to make sure these activities are done and done well; it's Planet DDS's.
Planet DDS allows a dentist to pick and choose the desired virtual services. Some offices may only use the billing and collection services. Some offices may only want to use a virtual receptionist to make outbound calls, i.e., confirming appointments, filling in cancellations, calling and scheduling re-care patients, checking insurance eligibility.
On top of that, Planet DDS allows its clients to request the services on demand. So, if a staff member is out on vacation or sick leave, a virtual receptionist can fill in without the office skipping a beat.
In most dental practices, dental software is seen as a necessary evil. Good software is expensive, requires ongoing maintenance and support, and is rarely used effectively. Planet DDS's virtual business services takes the concept of software to a whole new level. No longer is software just an unwanted expense. It is now part of a package of services that increases revenue, decreases expenses, and helps minimize the stresses of an already stressful profession.
It is only a matter of time before every dental software purchase will need to include a discussion of real time connectivity — to virtual services, to patients, to insurance companies.