Discover the benefits of outsourcing duties in the orthodontic practice
One of the biggest career challenges an orthodontist faces is hiring, training and managing employees. The demands in regard to time management have escalated for today’s orthodontist. Because of the tremendous increase of digital-based treatment planning, the number of hours per day demanding the doctor’s time have increased. Many doctors report that they’re up and at their computer at 5 a.m., then slip into their office throughout the day and spend time there some evenings, as well. These new demands have left the orthodontist with less time to devote to human resources. For such increasingly busy orthodontists, outsourcing some duties can be very helpful.
With rapid changes in the field, the need to have full-time employees doing different things has become apparent. For example, a percentage of chairside orthodontic assistants need to become digital assistants. Depending upon the size of the practice, digital assistants will spend a good part of, if not their entire, day behind the scenes at the computer. Well-trained digital assistants are able to move the digital treatment and lab work forward to a certain point, which reduces the doctor time needed to process the digital treatment plan.
Insurance and Financial Processing
• CareCredit: Healthcare credit cards provide payment options that could increase patient treatment acceptance.
• OrthoBanc: Risk assessment and autodraft payment management, including follow-up for delinquent accounts. orthobanc.com
• OrthCalc: Slider-based financial presentation software calculates and presents payment options for patient acceptance. orthocalc.com
• OrthoFi: Slider-based fee presentation;
full-service insurance processing; payment
and collection services. orthofi.com
• OrthoSynetics: Insurance verification; receivables and collections. orthosynetics.com
• Ortho Marketing: Custom websites and online marketing programs; search engine optimization and social media services. orthomarketing.com
• Sesame Communications: Custom web
design; SEO; web and social content; assistance with enhanced Healthgrades profiles.
• Televox Solutions: Web design; online presence management; patient surveys and engagement platforms. televox.com
Payroll and Payables
• OrthoBanc: Payroll services.
• OrthoSynetics: Financial budgeting and analysis. orthosynetics.com
• Dolphin Imaging & Management Solutions: MyOrthodontist app offers patients access to appointments, account balance, practice information and more. dolphinimaging.com
• Ortho2: Edge Reminders automates patient reminder messages via phone, text or email. edgereminders.ortho2.com
• TopsOrtho: Digital topsExpress communication suite includes appointment reminders and other direct messages via SMS, and secure email. topsortho.com
The appearance and function of the in-office lab has changed dramatically. In the past, doctors would spend 3–4 percent of their income paying a lab technician to make in-house appliances, models and retainers of various types. Making and trimming models was messy, time-consuming and noisy.
Today’s modern labs are high-tech and clean. Scanners have replaced alginate models, and digital scans can be sent to outside labs for the fabrication of appliances. Some doctors who’ve invested in 3D printers now fabricate aligners in their own practices, which can be quite cost-effective in creating simple aligner therapy. The orthodontists can then offer this treatment at a more competitive fee.
Insurance and financial processing
Insurance and collection systems can fall apart quickly without busy doctors even knowing. Over my years of consulting, I’ve discovered high rates of delinquency for both patient accounts and insurance accounts, when the doctors had no idea that statements hadn’t been sent and insurance claims hadn’t been filed. The percentage of past-due accounts could be 15–20 percent instead of the more standard 3–5 percent.
Confirming insurance benefits is probably one of the most disliked and time-consuming duties of the administrative team, but it is essential in being highly productive. Flexible financing plays a major role in higher case acceptance.
Orthodontists now can opt to contract with outside companies that offer services like follow-up systems for past-due accounts, insurance processing from start to finish, and cash-flow management and collections processing. I think that the young, progressive company OrthoFi is one excellent such resource, with a comprehensive package of these management services that makes it easy for orthodontists to stay on top of the business management of the practice.
Marketing and social media
There are numerous options available for orthodontists to outsource their practice marketing. The question is: What is the return on investment (ROI)? For example, I have a client who spends $1,500 per month with a reputable internet marketing company. She averages two starts a month from this source, which is an excellent return. Outsourcing can work, but make sure you have protocols in place to ensure your ROI is excellent.
Various companies offer “chat coordinator” services that, for a monthly fee, provide a chat service for your website. (I use OrthoChats, which does an excellent job of making the caller feel important.) We need to be available to our patients more than just 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and chat services can be a great way to impress first-time callers and to provide information quickly and efficiently.
Payroll and payables
Many doctors prefer to keep the payroll and QuickBooks reports confidential, and many reputable companies will process the payroll for an affordable fee. Full-charge bookkeepers will charge around $30 per hour; it’s also easy to find bookkeepers who have their own business license and will charge a flat rate per month to take care of the payables, payroll and taxes.
Have you noticed that many people don’t listen to voicemails or read emails? Text is most people’s favorite way to communicate, and there are several excellent companies that offer practices texting confirmation options. A good automated system should lower your no-show ratio to 3 percent or less.
If managed strategically, outsourcing work can save orthodontists a significant amount of money. Employers who offer benefits such as retirement plans, paid leave and healthcare insurance to their employees don’t need to offer such benefits to outsourced positions, for example, while even employers who don’t offer such benefits will still save through outsourcing because they’re not paying FICA taxes, holiday or overtime pay, or insurance or unemployment costs. for those positions. They don’t have to deal with the hassles of employees calling in sick.
Additionally, employers can shift liability to outsourced companies, where such companies are generally required to maintain their own malpractice and/or errors and omissions liability coverage.