Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Better Way to Check on Insurance Benefits

Get your time back!  A better way to check on insurance benefits
In my work teaching dental practices how to become more productive and efficient by using their Dentrix software, I’ve noticed that many front office staff are still using old, slow methods for checking on their patients’ insurance benefits.  Many offices I visit are still doing what I used to do back in the day when I worked the front desk:  spending hours on the phone with insurance companies getting routed from one phone tree to the next and then waiting around for fax backs that seemed to take forever. .   Well, I’m here to tell you that there’s no longer any need to waste that kind of time.  I’m happy to say that the days of phone and fax are behind us and there is a better way. . 
Current, accurate information about insurance is, of course, a critical need for any front desk.  Having real-time information at your fingertips allows you to relay the information to your patient so they can budget for their dental care and allows you to collect the patient's portion at the time of service.  But, the time and energy cost of retrieving this information the old way is very very high.  So high that in the practice where I worked, we realized that we either needed to find a more efficient way, or hire a new front desk person just to handle insurance issues. 
Our solution?  We added eCentral Insurance Manager to the list of the  eServices we were using with our Dentrix software.  I’ll bet you have seen the little red e’s on the Family File in the insurance box - haven’t you?  Well, once you sign up for eCentral, that little red “e” becomes a one-click portal to insurance information.  All you have to do is click on the little red “e” and it searches for that patient’s insurance benefits and provides you with an instant, real-time benefits breakdown and maximum used.  Really.  It is that simple.

Now I know there are some of you out there that are saying “Sounds great, but I am not going to spend the $ on eCentral.”  I respect your desire to save a dollar – we all get that – but I want you to look at whether this is one of those expense that will actually make you money.  If you can cut down on the time your front office is spending on the phone with insurance companies by just one hour, your front office could be spending that time calling patients with unscheduled treatment or past due hygiene appointments.  Also, one hour a day in increased productivity adds up to a lot more profits for the entire team. 
And, here’s a thought:  What if you had a patient in your office with a broken tooth or toothache and you had the time to treat them?  Wouldn’t you want to take advantage of that opportunity?  You can, but only if you can get the insurance information instantly, because the doctor will need to make sure the patient has a financial arrangement before he gives anesthetic.  If your office is using eCentral Insurance Eligibility, the probability of you being able to treat that patient on the spot just went up because you can get his insurance information in about 35 seconds.
So, I understand that adding eServices costs the office a monthly fee but I look at it as a way to spend more time with patients building relationships, scheduling treatment and increasing your hygiene retention.  I think if you pencil it out, you’ll find a cost savings in there that will benefit everyone involved.  And, you won’t have to spend your time lost in the dreaded phone tree maze! 


  1. Does this work with all insurance companies? I remember trying to use it some time ago and the information we received was sketchy at best. Has this been updated and improved recently?

  2. Our office would love to have a service like this, however, not all insurances are available and the break down is a basic one, we actually need a very detailed one, otherwise we end up still calling insurances. Unless I'm missing something (???)

    1. Depending on what state you live in will decide the amount of detail you will receive from the insurance company. Most of the Delta plans give you a significant breakdown and so does Metlife, Aetna and Cigna. When I started using eCentral in Washington state I rarely had to call an insurance company again and I see that a lot in many of the offices I work with.

      You only think you need a detailed one because it is what you have been doing for so long. What I am trying to teach the office is to transfer that ownership back to the patient. If you are calling on specific procedures like nightguards, fluoride or bone grafting then estimate zero like my article suggested and have the patient call.

      It is a change in your mindset and when you educate your patients on their benefits and show them how to call then they feel empowered.

      Thank you,