California's largest dental plan unveiled today a new web-based
calculator that shows dentists how much they can save when using
electronic claims submission (ECS) for their insured patients.
The new online calculator, located at www.deltadentalca.org,
demonstrates that depending on various factors, an average California
dentist can save more than $3,400 annually, or as many as 25 days in
staff time using ECS to process claims bound for Delta Dental Plan of
California or any other dental carrier.
Delta officials report that 34 percent of the estimated 60,000
dental claims the company receives daily arrive electronically -- a
figure they want to increase by getting more California dentists to
automate their claims submission.
"ECS means less paperwork, better cash flow, more streamlined
office procedures and lower processing costs, which ultimately
benefits dentists, subscribers and the Delta clients who sponsor
dental benefit plans," said Marilynn Belek, DMD, Delta's senior vice
president of Professional Services. "The web calculator offers
compelling evidence that it pays to make optimal use of ECS
ECS involves computer-generated claims integrated with practice
management software that can run on basic, relatively inexpensive
office computer systems. Dental offices transmit their completed
claims via modem to an electronic clearinghouse, where they are
screened, batched into a single data stream, then transmitted to
insurance and benefit companies such as Delta Dental for review and
payment. Claims requiring more information are rapidly returned by the
clearinghouse with a notation or flag that helps dental offices
quickly correct the error and retransmit the claim -- a process that
can take days with paper-based claims.
Delta's new web calculator, linked to the dentist section of the
company's corporate web site, asks users to fill in only six
relatively simple fields to see just how much time and money ECS can
save the particular practice. Dentists need only enter their average
patient volume, the percent covered by insurance, the number of days
in a week and weeks in a year they see patients, and the number of
staff they employ to bill for treatment. They also need to provide the
average annual salary of those staff.
After submitting the data, which is neither monitored nor captured
by Delta staff, the calculator quickly performs an analysis that
compares all costs associated with paper versus electronic claims,
including the expense of postage, forms and envelopes, the amount of time required to generate paper versus electronic claims and the
transmission fees paid to an electronic clearinghouse.
Based on a dental office that sees 20 patients a day, 80 percent
of which are covered by insurance, the calculator shows savings of
$3,456 of annual savings with ECS over paper claims, according to Dr. Belek. "Obviously, that is a figure that can go up or down
significantly depending on an office's insured patient volume."
Delta Dental President and CEO Gary D. Radine says a major
strategy for the company and its affiliates around the country is to
harness the power of the Internet, ECS and other technologies so that
savings can be passed along to customers and subscribers.
"We are not only expanding ECS, but developing web claims
submission and deploying a number of other new work management and customer-oriented technologies to improve every aspect of our service and data control," said Radine. "Of course, to reap the full advantage of some of these technologies, we must convince those who work with us as business partners to accept and integrate these tools into their own office practices."