FYI

Dentist blog from Delta Dental

How to talk to patients about returning to your office

As a dentist, you know that regular office visits are essential for your patients’ oral health, but your patients might have questions and concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the American Dental Association, 98% of dental practices are open for business, but less than 50% are seeing the same number of patients as before the pandemic.

The ADA has also found that most people are ready to return to their dentist’s office (although some of them may need assurances that they’ll be safe) even if there are COVID-19 cases locally, and that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the ADA are the two most trusted sources of information about whether or not it’s safe to go to the dentist. With all of that in mind, here are some tips on how to get patients back in the office, reassure them of their safety and keep them coming back.

1. Put new safety procedures and practices in place

Reassuring your patients of their safety is an essential first step in encouraging them to return. Dentists’ offices have long been kept meticulously clean to prevent the spread of bloodborne illnesses. The spread of COVID-19, though, has required new practices to address potential infection through saliva droplets. Highlighting these new practices is an excellent opportunity to make your patients feel safer.

For example, these practices may be worth implementing:

  • Have patients wait for their appointments inside their cars rather than inside your waiting room, even if you have the space for them to socially distance.
  • Put up a clear plastic screen between the front desk and the waiting area. This helps to prevent a stray cough or sneeze from spreading saliva droplets when patients are checking in or paying their bill.
  • Install equipment that helps remove germs from the office, such as medical-grade air purifiers.
  • Check patients’ temperature with an infrared thermometer upon their arrival. You’ll want to use a thermometer especially made for use as a wellness device (infrared thermometers that aren’t explicitly made for medical use may be inaccurate when used on the human body.)
  • Have patients do their part, too, such as by performing a peroxide rinse before getting into the chair.

2. Effectively communicate with and listen to your patients

One of the biggest contributors to feelings of fear and uncertainty is a lack of reliable information from a trusted source. When it comes to their oral health, you are your patients’ primary subject matter expert. Explain not just what changes you’re instituting at the office to keep patients safe, but also why you’re making those changes and how they keep patients safe.

It’s important to create opportunities to interact with your patients so that you can keep them informed of the latest changes and persuade them to return when they’re ready. The ADA has found that patients prefer to be communicated with via email, text and phone, in that order.

If you’re using software to communicate with your patients via email or text, let them know:

  • Your office is open for business
  • You’re following new procedures to ensure everyone’s safety
  • You’re available to talk if they have questions or concerns (offering teledentistry appointments is a great way to interact directly with your patients!)

If you’d rather emphasize a human touch, you could have office staff directly call your patients to remind them not to forget check-ups and see if there’s anything your office can do for them.

Also, don’t forget to be an active listener. If you ask your patients their concerns, make sure you indicate that you’re listening attentively and taking their words under consideration.

3. Think outside the box

Finally, when it comes to persuading patients to return and attracting new patients, don’t be afraid to think outside the box! Encourage patients to leave reviews and feedback on social media. A positive review and a description of safety protocols on Yelp or Google can go a long way towards assuring would-be patients that your office is a safe environment.

Similarly, consider updating your practice’s website if you haven’t done so recently. Adding customer testimonials is a good idea, and you can also add photos that highlight changes throughout your office. If you’re feeling especially ambitious, you could also create a video walkthrough of your practice to serve as a virtual tour of the office! Or, add videos that highlight new safety practices and equipment you’ve implemented, such as peroxide rinses or medical-grade air purifiers.

We also suggest updating your current office hours on the Delta Dental Provider Tools site to help your patients access care in your office. Patients often use the Provider Directory when looking for contact information, so making sure that your information is up to date and that it matches the info available in other locations (such as your website or Yelp) can help eliminate confusion. Fortunately, logging in to your profile in our Provider Tools and update your office hours is simple!

The ADA’s Health Policy Institute has also found that nearly three out of four people who visited the dentist in 2019 would be comfortable returning right now. Another 11% would be willing to return to the dentist if they had some kind of assurance that their visit would be safe while the remaining 15% are waiting for a vaccine. That means that if you’re seeing fewer than 85% of the patients you were before the pandemic, you might be able to bring more back to your practice. Follow the steps above, and you might get the extra bump in business you need to make the new normal a little more like the old one.

Return to Care supplemental reimbursement program extended

To help you continue to provide care to your patients during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we’re extending the Return to Care supplemental reimbursement program through October 20, 2020.

As a network dentist, you’ll receive a $10 supplemental reimbursement for performing qualifying evaluation or consultation codes. In June, you received notification about this program. We’ve now extended the original end date of September 20 to October 20 to offer you additional support during this difficult time.

Am I eligible?

To receive the Return to Care reimbursement, you must participate in one of the following networks and treat an eligible patient covered by one of these Delta Dental plans:

  • DeltaCare® USA
  • Delta Dental PPO™ and DPO in Texas (see applicable Delta Dental companies below)
  • Delta Dental Premier® (see applicable Delta Dental companies below)
  • Delta Dental Federal (Legion), Medicare Advantage

Applicable Delta Dental companies include Delta Dental of California, Delta Dental Insurance Company, Delta Dental of Pennsylvania, Delta Dental of the District of Columbia, Delta Dental of Delaware, Inc., Delta Dental of West Virginia, Inc. and Delta Dental of New York, Inc.

The Medi-Cal Dental, CDPHP (NY Medicaid) and HSCSN (Washington, D.C. Medicaid) networks aren’t eligible for this reimbursement.

How do I receive the reimbursement?

If you’re a DeltaCare USA dentist with a capitation agreement, simply submit your DeltaCare USA encounter form when you treat a DeltaCare USA enrollee. We’ll add $10 to the encounter fee during processing.

If you’re a dentist in another network, or a DeltaCare USA dentist without a capitation agreement, we’ll reimburse you when you submit a claim for any of these evaluation or consultation codes:

  • D0120
  • D0140
  • D0145
  • D0150
  • D0160
  • D0170
  • D0180
  • D0190
  • D0191
  • D8660
  • D9310
  • D9430

Please submit your usual office fee, not your contracted fee. Charges for sterilization or infection control aren’t billable under Delta Dental plans and can’t be charged to the patient.

Can I use procedure code D1999 to charge a separate fee for personal protective equipment (PPE)?

No. You can’t submit code D1999 to receive reimbursement. Personal protective equipment is considered part of the delivery of care. It’s not separately billable and can’t be charged to the patient.

What if I don’t perform an evaluation or consultation at every visit? Can I receive the reimbursement for other submitted procedure codes?

No. Only the 12 qualifying CDT codes are eligible for the supplemental reimbursement.

Will frequency limitations still apply for evaluation and consultation codes?

Yes. Specific plan benefits and frequency limitations will apply. If a patient exceeds the frequency limitation or has exceeded the plan maximum for one of the qualifying CDT codes, the patient will be responsible for the allowed amount, which will include the temporary supplemental reimbursement.

I still have questions. How do I get more information?

If you’re a DeltaCare USA, PPO or Premier dentist, email your questions to providerconcierge@delta.org. If you participate in Federal Programs (Legion), email FSPS@delta.org.

Master Provider Tools and earn gift cards this fall

Running a dental practice isn’t simple, but Delta Dental has developed a suite of free Provider Tools to make it easier, faster and cheaper for you to manage appointments, claims and other day-to-day tasks.

Even better, you can earn rewards for mastering these tools! Between now and November 30, earn up to $60 worth of gift cards from Amazon, Target or Starbucks just for trying out Provider Tools (while supplies last).

For your chance to earn a gift card, just complete all the steps in either Option 1 or Option 2 below, then email us at providertools@delta.org to let us know you’re ready to claim your gift cards.

Option 1

  1. Submit 20 claims, including two with an attachment. Keep the claim numbers handy so you can provide them when you email us to claim your gift cards.
  2. Sign up for paperless claim payments (if you need assistance, call web support at 800–589-4712 to change your delivery option).
  3. Enjoy the $40 in gift cards you’ve earned for completing these tasks!

Option 2

  1. Submit 20 claims, including two with an attachment. Keep the claim numbers handy so you can provide them when you email us to claim your gift cards.
  2. Sign up for EFT. Select the EFT/ERA icon after signing in to your account.
  3. Enjoy the $60 in gift cards you’ve earned for completing these tasks!

Don’t wait. Earn your gift card today!

It’s time to complete your annual General Compliance and FWA training

It’s that time again. If you’re a Medicare Advantage contracted dentist, you must complete your annual General Compliance and Fraud, Waste and Abuse (FWA) training by November 30, 2020.

In addition to the training, you’re also required to have a written ethics guide and code of business conduct in place for your practice. To meet this requirement, you can incorporate Delta Dental’s Ethics Guide at your practice.

Are you recertified? If you haven’t complete this year’s training or want to incorporate our guide, visit Delta Dental’s Medicare Advantage Compliance and Training site for more information. (No login is required.)

If you’ve met this year’s training and ethics guide requirements, please check your email for an attestation survey and complete it by November 30, 2020.

If you have any questions, email us at fwacoc@delta.org.

This applies to Medicare Advantage contracted dentists in the following states:

Delta Dental of California – CA, Delta Dental of the District of Columbia – DC, Delta Dental of Pennsylvania – PA & MD, Delta Dental of West Virginia, Inc. – WV, Delta Dental of Delaware, Inc. – DE, Delta Dental of New York, Inc. – NY, Delta Dental Insurance Company – AL, DC, FL, GA, LA, MS, MT, NV, TX and UT.

Note: The original version of this post addressed all Delta Dental dentists. This training is a requirement only for Medicare Advantage contracted dentists. We apologize for any confusion.

New loan options now available through Delta Dental and Lendeavor

A special loan program for network dentists has been expanded to offer you even more options.

The program, available in partnership with Lendeavor, now includes loans that you can use to acquire, refinance, expand or equip a practice. Also available are loans to acquire or refinance commercial real estate for a practice.

Delta Dental will cover the first 12 months of your loan’s interest, and Lendeavor will cover an additional month of interest.

To accommodate these new options, the program’s funding has been increased to $300 million. This program expires on December 31, 2020 or when funds run out. Terms and conditions apply. To find out more, visit the application page.

How you can help fight opioid addiction

As an oral health care provider, you’re an essential member in the fight against the opioid epidemic. Many adolescents who abuse opioids have their first encounter with medically prescribed painkillers (such as those prescribed for wisdom tooth removal), according to the National Institutes of Health. The overall percentage of opioids prescribed by dentists increased by 12.9% from 2010 through 2015, so being aware of how to combat overprescribing is more important than ever.

The American Dental Association’s Policy on Opioid Prescribing supports:

  • making continuing education on prescribing opioids and other controlled substances mandatory
  • implementing statutory limits on opioid dosage and prescription duration
  • improving the quality, integrity and interoperability of state drug monitoring programs

Another important aspect of helping to combat opioid addiction is having open and honest discussions with your patients. The ADA has put together resources to help you educate your patients about the addictive qualities of narcotic painkillers. You can find a comprehensive collection of webinars about opioid prevention for dentists. For example, the ADA offers advice on selecting strategies for pain management that are appropriate for the estimated severity of different procedures.

Studies have also found that a combination of ibuprofen and acetaminophen can be a more effective pain management tool than simply prescribing opioids, as well. As Dr. Daniel Croley, our Vice President of Network Development, says, “We ask that all dentists consider non-addictive pain management as their first choice. When narcotics are needed, only prescribe the lowest dosage and quantity needed to effectively manage your patients’ pain.”

The opioid epidemic may be too big for any one person to solve, but to quote Dr. Croley, “Together, we can stop the overprescription and abuse of opioids.”

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