FYI

Dentist blog from Delta Dental

Author: Delta Dental (Page 1 of 29)

Is your directory listing up to date?

When was the last time you checked your Find a Dentist directory listing? If you’ve changed office hours or added a staff member who speaks a different language, then it’s time to update your listing.

Millions of patients rely on the Delta Dental directory to locate nearby dentists who fit their needs. Make sure that you’re broadcasting the right information. Updating your listing only take a few minutes and is an excellent way of attracting new patients.

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Log in to Provider Tools and select My account.
  2. Click on Directory profile.
  3. Go to Actions and click Open.
  4. Update information, as needed.
  5. Save as draft if you’re not yet ready to publish your updates or select Publish if you’re ready to go live.

Remember, your listing can and should be revised anytime changes are made to your business. We recommend setting up a yearly reminder to check your listing for accuracy. While you’re at it, be sure to verify your other heavily searched online listings such as YelpFacebookGoogle and Apple.

Upcoming Provider Tools webinars in August

This August, take your practice online with Provider Tools. Learn how to simplify and speed up your workflow in an hour-long webinar packed with productivity tips and commonly asked questions. You’ll learn how to:

  • View patient eligibility and benefits information
  • Submit claims online and check your claim status
  • Signup for direct deposit and manage your payments

You’ll also learn more about Delta Dental – Virtual Consult, a new virtual dentistry tool that you can use for one-on-one video appointments with patients.

Get ready to be more productive. Register for a webinar today:

Have a specific question about our tools? You can also schedule a 1:1 call.

Dentist spotlight: Dr. Eric Huynh and Dr. Saranya Viyapon

When dentistry is a family affair, work-life balance is more important than ever. For married dentists Dr. Eric Huynh and Dr. Saranya Viyapon, staying busy is a virtue, but so is taking time to focus on themselves and their family. Not only does the Texas twosome owns and operates Oasis Dental in Keller and Confi-Dental in Fort Worth, they also find time to run multiple other businesses and tend to their three daughters. The busy couple works hard, plays hard and enjoys every minute of it.

How and when did you two meet?

Dr. Eric Huynh: I owned three offices back then. Sara came in for an interview and we didn’t hire her because she was out of our budget. She was going to school in Philadelphia back then but was moving back to Texas to be closer to her family. I told her if she ever wanted to come out with me and my friends, she was welcome to join us. That’s what really happened. Even though we didn’t hire her, she went out with us, we became friends and the next thing you know, we were married. It all worked out. We’ve been together 18 years now. It goes by faster than anyone could imagine.

When did you each decide that you wanted to be a dentist and why?

Dr. Saranya Viyapon: I’m originally from Thailand and we believe in taking care of people, so I always knew I wanted to be in the medical field. I like my schedule to be 9 to 5 but as a doctor, you need to be on call. I knew that wasn’t going to be a good fit for me, so I decided to study dentistry.

I love being a dentist. We’re very busy, but we’re very lucky!

Dr. Huynh: I was pre-med and studying quite a bit, but, to be honest, my score was only a little above average and I wanted to excel at whatever I did. I liked dentistry, also, so at the last minute I switched. It was such a blessing and it worked out quite well. I love being a dentist so much! 

What do you love about being dentists?

Dr. Huynh: Well, I talk a lot, and I love my patients. Most of them have been with me since 1997, when I graduated and was just starting out. We have three or four generations working in my office and everyone feels like family. It doesn’t feel like work anymore. It’s really fun. We’re very blessed. People come here and they stay here. My staff has been with me for 20 years. We’re growing old together. 

Dr. Viyapon: Being a dentist, I just love checking in with my patients. Once in a while, we get patients who are uncomfortable with the dentist and after a while they feel better about it. That’s very rewarding to me. Sometimes we’ll see patients and they’re excited to see you and tell you that they love the way their teeth feel after a cleaning. It’s the little stuff! Plus, it’s great to help people get out of pain.

What are the best and worst parts of being married to another dentist?

Dr. Viyapon: It’s so nice being married to another dentist because we understand each other’s work. We can talk about our days so easily.

Dr. Huynh: We don’t work together in the same office, so the good thing is that we can refer patients to each other if they have certain preferences about their dentist. We can also consult with each other for different cases, which is really nice. But worst? We don’t really have many issues. We have three kids, and that’s enough!

What does quality patient care mean to you?

Dr. Viyapon: Taking care of a patient as a whole and the best that we can. If something is out of our comfort zone, we’ll refer them to a specialist. 

Dr. Huynh: For me, it’s taking care of whatever they need to the best of your ability. My patients are almost family to me. I give all of them my cellphone number, but they’re so respectful about it. They only call when they really need to. I try to think of my patients like they’re my mom, my dad, my sister. I want them to feel comfortable expressing themselves. If they have hesitation and don’t trust you, there’s a problem. 

I think that’s why we don’t have many issues. If there’s a problem, we want them to know that we’ll take care of it. Basically, if they’re happy, I’m happy. 

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to yourself when you were first starting out?

Dr. Huynh: You don’t need to do everything. I was trying so hard to do it all when I started and I had to learn to delegate more. Don’t let everything stress you out because it will work out.

I think dental school can be a rough time for a lot of people. Instructors could be really hard on us and I think they’re much tougher on you than the patients are. Nothing can faze you after that. It made us better people now.

Dr. Viyapon: I’d say, don’t take it too personally. When I started out, nobody told me that, and I’d get patients who just didn’t like going to the dentist. Sometimes it’s nothing personal and we just need to be more understanding with the patient. 

Some patients have a hard time opening up because they think we’re just trying to make money and doing unnecessary work. That’s hard for younger people to learn, because when you’re starting out you think everything will be so ideal. 

What do you do in your free time? Any hobbies?

Dr. Huynh: I am quite busy, besides dentistry. We have three daughters. After the first one, I decided to not work so much because I wanted to spend time with her. We’re very hands on with the kids. As I got older, I got into other businesses. I do real estate outside of this, and it’s tremendously fun. We also own an event center. Dentistry is our 9 to 5, but after that everything is very different.

If I wasn’t a dentist, I’d be an event planner. I love the creative side of it. We really love it, and the kids get involved, too. It’s great for learning business but also brings us closer. We’re always bouncing ideas off each other and working together. It was never supposed to be like this, but I’m very grateful that it is.

Dr. Viyapon: We have three jobs, but we enjoy all of them! On top of that, our oldest daughter just became the president of the drill team this year, so now I’m president of the dance moms! 

To relax, I do yoga and we always take breaks from work. We take long weekends and we go out with friends — especially on Friday nights! During the week, Dr. Huynh does all the cooking, but on the weekends the kitchen is closed, and we always go out to eat. We like to take vacations when the kids are out of school. When we go out or take a break, we only focus on that.


Congratulations to Dr. Eric Huynh and Dr. Saranya Viyapon on being our Dental Health Partners of the Month. Learn more about their practices Confi-Dental and Oasis Dental.

How dental technology can help take your care to the next level

As technology rapidly evolves, innovative new software and hardware have begun to appear in dental offices and schools around the country. Here are a few interesting and promising technologies that might be coming to your office soon.

Teledentistry

Thanks in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, teledentistry has been expanding rapidly — in a recent survey, 34% of dentists reported that they see patients via telehealth platforms or plan to use it in the near future — and it’s projected to be a $2.6B industry by 2027.

A variety of services fall under the teledentistry umbrella, including:

  • Teleconsultation, in which a patient receives a consultation via a mobile device or computer
  • Telediagnosis, where images and data received from patients are used to evaluate and diagnose dental issues
  • Telemonitoring, where patients who have undergone treatment can be monitored without frequent in-person visits to the dentist

Along with making dental care more accessible to patients during the pandemic, teledentistry has proven to be a useful tool treating for underserved populations. Low-income patients, rural patients, elderly patients in assisted living facilities and physically and intellectually disabled patients can face obstacles with in-person visits.

While teledentistry has shown great promise, the technology associated with it can be challenge for both dentists and patients. To help, we’ve introduced Delta Dental – Virtual Consult. This free, video-based platform enables you to consult with Delta Dental members virtually through a secure, HIPAA-compliant platform.

Artificial intelligence

While the first thing that pops into you head when you hear the term “artificial intelligence” might be science fiction, the science behind artificial intelligence isn’t fiction. And it’s available to help you right now.

Artificial intelligence, or AI, uses software to process information and learn patterns. As it gathers more information, it learns to assess situations and then make decisions or predict outcomes. As a result, AI can improve your ability to detect dental conditions quickly and accurately, and consistently provide you with the appropriate treatment. In ambiguous situations, AI can provide you with a second opinion.

So far, AI has proven to be a versatile tool for dentists, with these applications:

  • Making objective, consistent diagnoses for issues such as cavities
  • Diagnosing certain dental conditions, especially ones that may be caused by multiple factors, such as jaw issues and canker sores
  • Identifying patients at risk for developing oral cancers
  • Creating precise aligners
  • Determining orthodontic dental plans, including how the patient’s teeth should be moved, how much pressure should be applied to teeth and where pressure points on specific teeth are

Extended reality

Speaking of science fiction, another emerging technology that might have seemed impossible just a few years ago is extended reality, which includes several technologies:

  • Virtual reality (VR), a computer-generated, interactive, three-dimensional reality
  • Augmented reality (AR), an enhanced version of reality that combines real objects with computer-generated images, sounds or other sensory elements
  • Mixed reality (MR), a combination of the two

These technologies have potential applications in the dental field, including:

  • Planning and executing oral and maxillofacial surgeries, particularly implant placement and head and neck reconstructions. For example, with mandibular and maxillary reconstructions, a study found an excellent match between the virtual surgery plans and the actual outcomes, including the resection planes and the distance between the transplanted segments and the bone.
  • Education and training. Immersive 3D training with haptic feedback can be an effective and cost-saving training tool. Particularly useful is the ability to not only simulate a procedure in 3D, but also to be able to feel how much pressure to apply during drilling, cutting and milling through haptic feedback. The virtual simulations also enable students to assess their performance and then refine their technique.

3D printing

Invented in the early 1980s, 3D printers transform digital files into physical objects by stacking layers of material to form three-dimensional objects. Today, 3D printers can make objects from a variety of materials, including metals, ceramics, plastics and plaster.

3D printers are so adept at creating dental devices that the dental industry has become one of the leading users of 3D printing. Clear aligners are one of the highest volume applications for 3D printing technologies in the world.

3D printers may enable dental labs and offices to produce dental devices more quickly, accurately, consistently and inexpensively than human technicians can. With this improving technology and the exponential growth of clear aligner production, it’s estimated that by 2022 as many as 500 million dental devices and restorations will be produced annually with 3D printing technology. These include:

  • Crowns
  • Bridges
  • Dentures
  • Dental models
  • Retainers
  • Surgical guides for implants
  • Veneers
  • Orthodontic models

These are just a few of the innovations coming to your office soon. New technology continues to provide innovative ways to help you improve the accuracy, efficiency and value of the dental care you provide to your patients.

Teledentistry is now available in Texas

On June 16, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas signed HB 2056 into law, making it legal for Texas dentists to provide teledentistry services to their patients. Among other provisions, the law:

  • Requires informed consent from the patient
  • Establishes standards of care for teledentistry
  • Protects patient privacy
  • Promotes care for underserved areas
  • Addresses teledentistry’s use in treating patients with special needs
  • Sets up rules for Medicaid and teledentistry
  • Requests biennial reports on teledentistry’s effectiveness
  • Empowers the Texas Medical Board and State Board of Dental Examiners to set rules for teledentistry

Building up teledentistry services from scratch can seem daunting, but there are tools and resources out there that make it easy. From guides on how to see patients to tools like Delta Dental – Virtual Consult that help you easily expand your practice, Delta Dental makes it easy for you to find success with teledentistry.

Interested? Just fill out the interest form and we’ll reach out to you about getting started with Virtual Consult.

Dental fraud — what it is and how you can help fight it

An estimated 3% of the United States’ total spending on health care is caused by fraud, according to the National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association. That may sound like a small percentage, but with dental spending projected to reach $203 billion by 2027, that means we can expect to face over $6 billion in dental fraud.

Dental fraud is “any crime where an individual receives insurance money for filing a false claim, inflating a claim or billing for services not rendered,” according to the American Dental Association (ADA). Fraud can take many forms, but it requires intent, deception and unlawful gain.

Fraud harms everyone in the dental industry. It not only drives up the cost of coverage for patients and employers, but it can also directly affect your practice. Being found guilty of perpetrating fraud can result in fines, loss of professional licenses and even jail time!

Educate yourself and your staff on how to stay on the right side of the law. The ADA (PDF) and Delta Dental can help you, and your state’s dental board may have resources as well.

Common signs of fraud to watch out for

Because fraud requires intent and deception, there are signs that you and your staff can watch out for from patients who commit dental fraud. Stay alert for:

  • Patients who use another person’s ID or multiple IDs to obtain benefits
  • Patients who request that you misreport dates to circumvent calendar year maximums or limitations
  • Patients who misrepresent their available coverage or ask you to misrepresent care to their insurance (including concealing dual coverage)

Because fraud can be perpetrated by both patients and care providers, having clear policies can help prevent fraud before it begins. Make sure your practice prohibits the following:

  • Regular failure to collect a patient’s payment without notifying the carrier
  • Claims for covered services when non-covered services are provided
  • Recommendation of unnecessary services

Although fraud requires intent, it’s possible to commit mistakes that could unknowingly get you into trouble. It’s entirely possible to unknowingly commit fraud in an attempt to help patients who might be seeking help with their coverage. For example, waiving coinsurance costs is one example of this. In other cases, it might be a simple oversight. Common mistakes considered fraud include:

  • Listing the incorrect treating dentist on a claim
  • Coding the wrong treatment (for example, prophylaxis vs. periodontal maintenance)
  • Altering dates of service

What you can do to help protect your practice

Fraud can happen at any point in the process of providing care, accepting payment and submitting claims, but having clear, consistently applied policies for your practice can help everyone play their part in fighting fraud. Here are some general steps your practice can take.

  • Make arrangements for payment with patients prior to providing services. This includes discussing coverage and fees, especially for optional and non-covered services, so that patients fully understand what their financial obligations are.
  • Discontinue relationships with patients who don’t make reasonable efforts to pay.
  • Write out a fraud policy, including examples. Make sure that your office staff has read and signed this policy.
  • Divide the tasks related to processing payments among multiple staff members. For example, have one person accept payments and another make the adjustments in patient records.
  • As a dentist or practice owner, review the claims your practice submits. Claims are considered to be legal documents submitted with your authorization. The dentist listed is legally responsible for the accuracy and honesty of a claim, even if an office manager or other staff member submits the claim.

Here are some things you can do every month to help fight fraud.

  • Mail monthly reminders to patients of their balances and minimums due.
  • Forward large uncollectable balances to a professional collections agency.
  • Review collection and production reports each month. Make sure your bank statement and your office records agree.
  • Check the percentages on your monthly profit and loss records, as well as any year-over-year changes. For example, if supplies cost about 8% of your income a year ago and you’re spending 10% this year, find out why.

What Delta Dental does to help prevent fraud

You don’t have to combat fraud on your own. We’re proud to be your partners in working to eliminate fraud at all levels and steps of the dental care process. What we do includes:

  • Educate our clients, members, dentists and employees about fraud detection and prevention
  • Conduct clinical patient examinations to ensure that provided services meet professional standards and were correctly submitted
  • Review financial and treatment records to ensure contracts are followed
  • Report potential cases to state and federal law enforcement and cooperate with fraud investigations
  • Pursue the recovery of funds when fraud is suspected
  • Terminate contracts when fraud is confirmed

If you suspect someone is committing fraud, report it. Call Delta Dental’s Anti-Fraud Hotline at 800-526-1852. You may remain anonymous during this call.

By making sure that you and your staff stay on top of the law, having understandable and consistent policies and maintaining good relationships with paying patients, you can help keep your practice in the green and trouble-free.

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