AADOM DISTINCTIONcast: Optimizing Dental Office Collections – Strategies for Efficient Revenue Management

In this presentation, you’ll learn key components of best practices for reducing billing errors and effective techniques for tracking and resolving claims promptly. We’ll also cover preventative measures, such as establishing robust billing policies and training staff to enhance overall efficiency. Tailored for dental professionals and practice managers, this webinar offers valuable insights to reduce outstanding claims, improve cash flow, and optimize your billing processes.

Sponsored by: Kleer

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Savanah: Hello, everyone! Welcome to Distinction Cast, where AADO showcases the best and brightest minds in the dental industry from within our Dental Management Association.

I’m Savanah Carlson, director of member services here at AADOM. And I want to thank you for joining us today.

AADOM DistinctionCasts is more than just insights into dental management. It’s a dynamic platform designed to amplify the voices of AADOM’s distinction holders, providing them with the opportunity to educate and inspire their peers.

By tapping into their expertise, we are able to jump into the trenches of everyday dental management and allow these distinction holders to empower and support their fellow dental leaders as they navigate the challenges and opportunities of running successful dental practices.

Before we dive in today, we’d like to thank our sponsor, Kleer, and hear a couple of words from them.

Sponsor: Hey, OM’s. How about we make your life a lot easier, plus let you in on the secret to increasing practice production and patient loyalty?

Sounds too good to be true?

We know a partner that can make it happen.

Klee subscription-based dentistry, a proud official dental membership partner plan of AADOM, is the only solution you need. Kleer offers automated features and an unparalleled membership plan platform that alleviates the challenges of managing your own plan. While you can focus on what you do best, they automate the rest.

Get started with Kleer today at kleer.dental/plan.

Savanah: I’m excited to introduce today’s ADDOM DistinctionCast educator, Leslie Lytle.

Leslie has over two decades of dental experience. She’s been with our current practice since 2004 and she is an AADOM diplomat. She received her DAADOM in 2020. She has a bachelor’s in business management and many other certifications.

She finds immense fulfillment in the ever-evolving field of dentistry, cherishing the bonds formed with patients over the years, from their first visits to milestones like graduations and starting families.

Welcome, Leslie!

Leslie: Thank you, Savanah. Thank you guys so much for having me today. I’m so excited for this event.

Savanah: I’m so happy you’re here. As a diplomat and receiving your DAADOM, what have you implemented in your practice from the education you received?

Leslie: I think it’s just like an all-around learning to be able to share with them the different experiences and things that you can have with AADOM—different levels that you could grow into.

Savanah: That’s great. And what will you be educating us on today?

Leslie: Ah, today’s category is going to be Optimizing Dental Office Collections — Strategies for Efficient Revenue Management…MONEY!

Savanah: Money!

We have to make it for the doctor.

We have to make sure the patients are on board with it and that the team knows how to talk about it, too.

I’m really excited for your presentation today and I’m just going to hand it right over.

Leslie: That sounds great. Thanks again. Yeah, we’re just going to take a dive right on into this and start out. I’ve got a lot of slides. Feel free to take pictures of them if you guys want. Like I said, this is all my own research, so we’ll go ahead and get started from today.

So first is going to be our introduction. What I’m planning to touch base on today.

It won’t be in any specific order:

  • Importance of collections
  • Revenue management
  • Financial options

Why Collections Matter

Why do collections matter? Well, there are tons of reasons:

  • Importance of timely collections for cash flow, timely collection, patient payments, and insurance payments to maintain a healthy cash flow.
  • Dental practices have several ongoing experiences, such as staff salaries, rent, supplies, equipment, and maintenance.
  • Impact on practice profitability (What can you do to make a positive impact?)
  • What are some things that you can do as a practice? One of the things that we have noticed here for us is to try and negotiate with your insurances for better rates.

We all know that this is a task that we don’t like to do and insurance companies aren’t very successful all the time with trying to get us where we need to be. But this is something that we can definitely start at if you are high into filing insurances in your practice.

Staying up to date with your full fee schedule. A lot of people have not heard of the Fair Health Consumer website. It’s an awesome website that you can go to fairhealthconsumer.org, I think it is, and be able to help type in your fees or type in the codes of dental. And it’s going to show you, in a roundabout, the prices and quotes that are available for your zip code area.

Another thing that I utilize here in our office is the NDAS book—the National Dental Advisory Service dental fee book. This is just one of the other things that I get to try and help us when it starts to near towards the fall time—around your fourth quarter, you should be looking at your fees for the following year.

You want to make sure that you’re updating your fees yearly. A lot of practices that I’ve talked to will be several years, and they haven’t upped their fees. But this is something that I believe if we all stick together and do those small increases each year, hopefully at some point in time, it’s going to help us as practices to be able to achieve more financial income from some of the insurance companies.

And we all want to try and weed out policies that pay out the lowest or are hard to receive payment from. It’s not worth our time to have to fight with insurance companies and go back and forth and trying to get money. Your claim should be paid in a timely fashion.

I know with a lot of different things that have happened with the cyber attacks—my office did not get affected in any way with that with the programs that we use. But I know some of you guys are just going through a battle with that, and I’m so sorry to hear that. But I’m thinking that they have a good protocol now, and things are starting toe head on the upward side for us in that manner.

And maintaining positive patient relationships. That’s one thing that you definitely have to do. We’re very patient-oriented here at our practice. We try to help our patients out the most that we can with their insurance.

Although those are the patient’s main responsibility, we’re just here to assist in giving them advice and the best estimates that we can give. But nothing in life is 100%. So we just want to make sure that the patients understand that as well.

What Are Some Challenges in Dental Collections?

Common challenges faced by dental offices in collecting payment include:

  • Incomplete or incorrect patient information
  • Scheduling errors
  • Inadequate insurance verification
  • Insufficient claim management
  • Ineffective patient collections

Patient Communication Difficulties

In today’s day and time, I feel that communication should not be one that we’re having a hard time with. There are so many different opportunities out there for us to have texting, emailing—the telephone is still a great way. I’m a telephone person. I love to call patients on the phone.

Texting is definitely one.

And there’s so many systems nowadays that will track what you text the patient and what they text back. So there’s not really a communication problem, I feel.

Patients Aren’t Updating Their Documents Correctly

That’s something we all need to take care of.

We all hate to do paperwork, but it’s something that you do have to keep up to date on. Always confirming the patient’s mailing address, phone number, and email.

We’re in a very transient area where I’m located because we’re in the middle of three to four Marine Corps bases. And our patients are constantly moving in and out. So we are always having to change email addresses or phone numbers or mailing addresses. We want to make sure we stay up to date on those.

Patient Anxiety

When patients aren’t nervous or scared, we may not have their full attention. So we need to make sure that we sit down, we take the time to talk to those patients to help them maybe overcome that fear or have them secure that relationship with you where they feel comfortable and they trust you to be able to move forward with the treatment that our doctors are recommended for them.

Language Barriers

Sometimes, there are language barriers. There are tons of different resources right now.

I just heard of one not too long ago. If you’re an ADA Member, they actually have people there who can help you with that language barrier and be a translator for you for a very low cost.

Learning Styles

For the patients, we’ve got to figure out:

Are they hands-on type of person, or are they somebody that just wants to hear the bottom line? They trust you a hundred percent. They don’t want to beat around the bush. They want to go ahead and do it. Get in, get done, and get out.

Or are they the type that wants to ask a lot of questions, spend a lot of time, see the photographs, that type?

Financial Problems

And then to find out if there are any personal financial problems. We have to treat everybody the same. There are so many different opportunities out there these days that we can offer patients as far as different financial options go. You have to figure out what works best for your practice.

Some of the other things that are challenges in dental collections are:

  • Insurance complexities
  • Office coding errors
  • Coordination of benefits
  • Frequency of services
  • Understanding the dental terminology
  • Downgrading or alternate benefits
  • Rollover maximums

These are all things that I love to learn about, but there are so many different categories here. There’s something new to learn every single day in dentistry is my thought.

Become a Member

Best Practices for Dental Collections

  • Clear financial policies
  • Effective patient education about insurance coverage and patient expectations. We can’t teach the patients what their manual is for their insurances, but we want to be able to help them look through it and help them understand it.
  • Streamlining billing and invoice processes. There are so many different companies right now that you can do for your billing and sending off your dental claims.

Just to go ahead and go through some of those is just a great time saver for us as the practice administrators to be able to do this.

How often are you sending out your dental claims? Dental claims should be sent if not once a day, twice a day for sure.

You want to make sure that you’re doing that and sending out your patient billing statements. Send those out daily. As soon as you close out a claim, go ahead and mail that statement or send it off electronically to the patient. There’s no reason that we should wait and bill out. Once every two weeks or once a month, like  I’ve heard different practices doing. You guys deserve that money right then, just like they deserve to have that claim paid out as soon as possible.

Have a Clear Financial Policy

For your financial policies, make sure that your practice has a good financial policy in place.

If you have digital forms, make sure that they have a place to acknowledge that they’ve read the disclaimer and have them sign it. I know we can go through this a hundred times and somebody’s still going to fight you on a bill, but make sure that you have it in there and make sure they have it.

If it is a digital form, ensure that they have to actually check the box, say, “Yes, I read this. Yes, I understand this.” That could always turn around and help you out in the future, if it was to turn into anything.

Make sure that your insurance payment policy has a verbiage in it, explaining that it’s not a guarantee of payment. Nothing in insurance is a guarantee of payment at all. And any remaining balances are the patient’s responsibility.

Make sure that the patient acknowledges and signs this document. We can go through it 100 times, stamp it in red, and highlight it. Patients are still going to go through it. But, at some point, if you ever had to go through something in a legal matter, it may be the one document that helps you out.

Make sure that your treatment plan has a disclaimer as well, so the patient understands it’s only an estimate. Once all the claims have been closed, any remaining totals are the patient’s responsibility. Make sure that the patient signs this document as well.

Make sure that all the documents are in the patient file, especially the treatment plan, that you have a copy of it on file.

This is something we went heavy into, I would say, probably about six or seven years ago. We utilize some great companies right now, where the patients get the treatment plan texted right to their phones.

And we do not have a treatment consultation room at my office. Our team is all trained to go over the treatment plans in their rooms.

If it was something more in-depth, we would bring them back for a consultation with the doctor. But, my staff has them sign their treatment plans in the room, and it’s filed automatically into their chart the minute the patient signs it. That way, we know that they understand the treatment that needs to be done and what their estimate is, and then we can go ahead and make their appointment from there.

Effective Patient Education About Insurance Coverage and Payment Expectations

Patients depend upon us, the dental practice, to understand the ins and outs of their dental policy and what they signed up for. It’s our responsibility to let the patient know that we will assist them as much as possible, but ultimately, it is the patient’s responsibility.

You have to train your patients to understand how your practice runs, how your claims processes run and how their co payments are handled:

  • Do you send claims daily?
  • Are your patient statements sent?
  • Are they sent daily or monthly?

We went over that a few minutes ago. I figured there’s no time, but we do everything in real time. So go ahead and do that in real time and send out your statements and your claims.

Ready to see the full version of this DISTINCTIONcast and elevate your skills?

Join AADOM now to access the full video and a world of resources. Your next big step is just a click away!


Learn About the Presenter:


Leslie Lytle, DAADOM earned her Diplomate of Dental Office Management (DAADOM) in 2020, her Bachelor of Science Business Management degree in 2020, her North Carolina Radiology certification in 2007, her Dental Assistant Certification in 2004, and her Associate of Arts Degree in Business and Marketing Management in 1999.

She has 23 years of dental experience. Leslie joined her current practice, Family Dental Care NC in August of 2004.

Leslie states that she loves everything about dentistry, especially the joy of being able to learn and experience new things on a daily basis. “I love seeing the patients bring their children in for their very first visit, to seeing the long-term patients that are here every six months become family. The best part is patients who were toddlers when I started are now adults and graduating and starting families of their own. I’ve enjoyed growing with these patient families through the years!”

Her favorite hobby is running! Over the past several years, she has run 2 Full Marine Corps Marathons and is nearing almost 20 half marathons. She does not do it to make time or beat records; her passion is in having completed the distance.



One thought on “AADOM DISTINCTIONcast: Optimizing Dental Office Collections – Strategies for Efficient Revenue Management
  1. Avatar
    Shannon Beck

    Leslie Lytle did a fantastic job with the live training on Optimizing Dental Office Collections. I would love to do a FaceBook Live with her on this same subject.

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