Why Omni-Channel Billing Is Working for DSOs

dso dental Billing

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The current billing landscape for DSOs

As the dental support model becomes increasingly prominent, the industry is experiencing an emerging trend of mismatched expectations.

The expected profitability of newly acquired or constructed practices nowadays can often fall short of goals, and quick, positive ROI from expansion might seem like an uphill battle.

While the finger can sometimes be pointed toward staffing challenges or waning insurance reimbursements, a core root of this issue is often an unsophisticated revenue cycle process.

Here’s why.

Old, Reliable, but Inefficient: Traditional Billing

Despite the leverage that DSOs have to negotiate lower costs, attract early career dental professionals, and expand their corporate blueprint, many still often resort to traditional methods for RCM.

That means paper statements, regular auditing of accounts, and batched processing of statements for mailing coordination.

This type of billing process is a choke point for efficiency across many organizations. It doesn’t matter if it’s a de novo practice or a new acquisition, establishing a robust billing workflow for the patient portion is a cornerstone for profitable growth.

But this problem isn’t solved by just implementing software that can digitize patient billing. Many RCM platforms offer the ability to batch and send digital statements via email or text on a one-off basis.

This “modern” approach has its own shortcomings, as the deluge of digital notifications that patients receive can be counterproductive and lead to worse collection results than paper statements.

To address the pitfalls of both billing approaches, many leading DSOs are adopting a new RCM strategy called “omni-channel billing”.

Why Omni-Channel Billing is Working for DSOs 

By merging traditional billing methods with digital billing platforms, some DSOs are getting the best of both worlds and are seeing a lift in collection rates while seeing a reduction of staff hours dedicated to billing-related calls.

Because all patients have a preferred method and cadence for payment, delivering options to pay across multiple channels benefits organizations that can orchestrate a more comprehensive billing strategy.

But some DSOs are going further than this.

To maximize efficiency with omni-channel billing, there needs to be a “set it and forget it” approach, where filtering rules, workflows, and dynamic messaging reduce the amount of input required to collect balances.

dso dental Billing

Let’s drill into these three elements of a properly tuned omni-channel approach.

By creating filtering rules that block patients with specific criteria, the task of auditing accounts and choosing who gets billed is fulfilled. Having a system that can target balances based on procedure code, balance size, or guarantor demographic information can eliminate hours of staff time and mitigate angry patient calls.

From here, enroll qualified guarantors into a workflow that sends both digital and physical statements at a cost-effective and non-intrusive cadence. This is a balance that is struck based on the responsiveness of a patient base.

Then throughout the workflow, it is best practice to use dynamic messaging that is template-based and rotates to reduce message fatigue. For older balances (often 90+ days past due), efficient DSOs escalate the language to a more serious tone that explains further steps that will be made after the workflow is completed.

Here is a sample omni-channel billing workflow used by a DSO with over 100 locations:

dental billing dso

Every practice is different, and every patient has preferences, so fine-tuning a workflow that meets the needs of your organization can require some trial and error.

But at the end of the day, RCM teams need to remember that patients are just people, and people have preferences for the way they want to do things. Giving them a choice of multiple modalities that are all equally convenient will yield the best results.

How DSOs Successfully Leverage Omni-Channel Billing

On a recent RCM Leadership Webinar, Phil Toh, the co-founder of The Smilist DSO, emphasized that they embrace the ethos of supporting patient preferences while giving their RCM team tools to automate omni-channel billing to allow for more fulfilling tasks.

dental Billing dso

With this in mind, it is best to strike a balance where patient choice and preferences are respected while your offices and organization also benefit from an optimized and automated billing system.

Establishing Priorities for DSOs

For DSOs looking to expand their operations, scaling in a responsible way requires a refined process for revenue cycle management.

If your #1 focus this year is to simply “Grow, Grow, Grow” then this needs to be a priority. Growth without managing A/R and debt effectively is unsustainable and unhealthy for any organization.

Of course, there are complexities when it comes to billing best practices. To this end we have made available our white paper on Optimizing Patient Billing for DSOs, which you can download for your RCM team.

In this white paper, we look at over 150,000 instances of patient billing outreach over a 90-day period to determine some of the best practices in billing communication. We find trends along patient demographics and practice types that RCM teams can leverage to improve their collection rates and enhance their patient experience.

patient billing

When it comes to strategic planning for growth, omni-channel billing should be a part of the playbook. With RCM software like Pearly, your organization will be able to bill more effectively with lower costs and a hands-free process. Pearly is an ideal solution for omni-channel billing for practices of all sizes and levels of sophistication.

If you are interested in learning about how Pearly can help optimize your RCM process, you can book a demo with our team.

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