Practice management technology has improved over the years due to feedback from users at orthodontic practices of various sizes. What people look for the most is a way to automate the most time-consuming tasks.
With the advent of cloud-based practice management software, orthodontic practices benefit from a number of features that can do exactly that. Routine tasks related to financial management and communication typically take up the most time. However, these tasks are critical to the practice’s operation and success.
“Cloud-based software—specifically Cloud 9 which I use—can take complicated actions that you would see in other systems and simplify them,” says Allison Parks Hale, chief operations officer at Parks Orthodontics, York Town, Va. Cloud 9 Ortho is a full-featured orthodontic practice management software with imaging, electronic claims, electronic statements, and auto pay/auto post capabilities.
More good news: There is no more need for external reports or spreadsheets because it can all be done within the platform.
Lisa Tarus, the office manager at Hidden Smiles Orthodontics in Huntington, N.Y., says, “Besides being cloud-based, I especially love that everything is so accessible and easily documented. If you forget to mark something down you did for a patient, or a letter you printed, it is all located in their patient history. Finances are easy to post, create, and adjust. Rescheduling patients is a 1-2-3 process. It just makes things so much simpler and everything is in one place so you don’t need to go to 10 different charts or files to find what you’re looking for.”
Maintaining accurate financials is important for any business. Practices simply can’t afford to make mistakes because the consequences can affect their bottom line.
Browser-based software typically comes with robust financial tools that manage the billing process so that private pay and insurance claims can be processed quickly. These tools offer seamless integration between the practice’s ledger, contracts, and claims—which can be a lifesaver for those offices that struggle to manage billing well and may be subject to high delinquency rate of collections.
Managing and modifying insurance claims can take up a lot of time, but a feature in newer software is that these tasks can be done in real-time. This not only keeps staff informed of the status of claims, but also enables them to quickly correct any rejections for resubmission.
For example, Cloud 9 Ortho has an easy-to-use adjustment calculator that can drastically reduce the number of errors and help increase the efficiency and accuracy of all financial reporting.
The software also allows for the creation of contracts that display all patient and insurance data on a single screen. Practices can effortlessly create and customize contracts to fit their needs and those of the patients.
Another benefit of cloud-based software is that it allows practices to improve the efficiency of their accounts receivable and collections by setting up responsible parties for bank account or credit/debit card auto-payments. These payments can be made through a patient portal, which is convenient for patients and cuts down on administrative work for office staff.
Besides the great benefits of managing financials, cloud-based software provides tools for streamlined communication between staff and patients. Some practice management software offers email and text message appointment reminders at no additional charge. Being able to send out customized appointment reminders about upcoming appointments through texts or emails cuts down on the amount of phone calling for busy office staff. A patient portal is helpful for assisting patients with booking appointments online or easily viewing information about their account.
Heather Wyman, CDPMA at Massachusetts-based Cordes Orthodontics says, “We love the free integrated text and email reminders that come with Cloud 9. Having fluidity with sending messages, appointment reminders, and letters through patient email and texts has saved our office a number of headaches rescheduling due to COVID, nor’easters, and other general malfunctions of order in the universe.”
The ability to add on third-party apps is another feature that opens up a multitude of possibilities depending on how far a practice wants to take their marketing and communications with patients.
Practices that switch to cloud-based software may be surprised at how robust the tools are for easy communication with patients. This makes the staff’s day easier by freeing them up from scheduling appointments, making reminder phone calls, and managing referrals.
“Cloud 9 [cloud-based software] does excellent text and email reminders,” Heather E. Wyman, certified dental practice management administrator at the Massachusetts-based (and multi-location) Cordes Orthodontics. “They allow you to send messages and texts directly from the program to patients…Also part of the communication is that we can communicate through the program to dentists using emailed letters and referrals, and that saves us a lot of money on postage because we can now email dentists directly from our program.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has made remote communication with patients more important than ever. For example, instead of patients and families checking in and then sitting in the waiting room, they can alert staff when they arrive and come in when it’s their turn to be seen. Texting has made this process easy.
“With so much going online, offices benefit from crisp online interaction where patients, or mom and dad, can go onto their website and schedule that next appointment,” says Chris McElvy, senior trainer at Cloud 9 Software. “So that’s another big change for offices, and better software can help.”
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