In this week’s episode, Teresa brings us advice for the admin items we can knock off our todo list during the COVID-19 shutdown. Use this time to be creative and get prepared for when you are able to return. Teresa gives lots of great advice with this one!
Teresa Duncan, MS is such a wealth of knowledge. Please visit her website and enjoy her awesome resources! For more info from Teresa, see below!
Teresa Duncan: Speaker on insurance and management, Podcaster, Author of a book and contributes to several magazines and the ADA’s publications!
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This TIPisode has been transcribed for your viewing pleasure:
Teresa Duncan: Hi. This is Teresa Duncan with Odyssey Management and the owner of the Nobody Told Me That! podcast. I’m here today to talk to you about what you can do right now administratively to keep busy. Some of you are in the office working as a skeleton crew and working on that to-do list that’s been there for a long time. And I wanted to just make sure that you were concentrating on a few things that would have big payoffs for you down the road.
So one option that you could do is to run your recare report. Now, I know this is something that is typically done up front, but why don’t you learn how to do it, if you don’t already, and that way you can see all of the different filters that you could possibly use. Once you learn the filters, you may realize that you’d like to start filtering it a certain way.
What I would do is run the report and highlight those people that you know are at risk for increased disease without proper, regular care. So these are the ones that three or four months down the road, six months down the road, they’ll come in, and you’ll say, “Wow. It’s too bad that you missed that last appointment because it’s kind of gotten out of control.” Those are the people that definitely we want to schedule after all this has died down. But those people might be worth a call to just say, “Hey. Thinking about you. Don’t forget to do this. It’s — you know, may not see you for a while. You may be interested in, you know, asking you some questions, maybe going over home care again.”
If you’re sort of introverted, that’s probably going to sound hellish to you. That’s okay. If you’re extroverted and this is up your wheelhouse, then it’s not a bad thing to do. Especially the patients that we have long-term relationships with, I think they will very much appreciate it. They may not call you back. But you know what? They will know that you called. And a lot of times texting is a good way to get in touch with them as well.
Now, most of you know that I speak mostly on insurance and management. So I have one insurance piece here that I want to give to you, and then we’ll talk about some other things. Right now is a good time to learn about insurance if you’re not really in the thick of it or it’s always kind of befuddled you. Go up front and take a look at some of these benefit sheets that your team has laying around. Or, if they have a full rundown of somebody’s benefits, take a look at it and run through it. If anything looks unfamiliar to you, now is a really good time to go over it.
Now, I’ve heard from some of you that you’re having virtual team meetings, which is great. You’re trying to learn things and go over protocols virtually. I think that’s awesome. This is one of those maybe you could suggest to the manager that they give you a crash course in what’s going on up there with all of the benefits.
If you’re ever planning to move into management or operations, this is a really important component. You’ll see very quickly the impact that benefits have on the operations of a company and also on the patient. And many of you do work for corporations, or maybe you’re going to look into working for corporations one day. This is the kind of information that they’re going to ask if you have any experience with and if you’re familiar with.
I have many calls from hygienists who are moving into corporate positions or sales positions and they realize that they didn’t understand the insurance piece, and now they’re having to do catch up. Right now, let’s do it so that you’re not stressed for it, and you can ask questions as you need to.
Okay. Now, let’s move back into the clinical area. Let’s talk about your templates, my friend. Let’s talk about the clinical templates that you have. And I’m sure if you’re anything like any other office, the templates are great — if they’re set up, first of all — the templates are great, but over time, they need to be switched and edited. And a lot of times we don’t have the time to do it, so we edit on the fly. Now’s a really good time to open up all of your templates and make all of those changes that you know you’ve been wanting to make along the way.
If you’re not sure how to do it, every software practice management system — every software will have help items online. They’ll have tutorials. If you go on YouTube and Google the software, it’s going to show up because somebody has taken the time to do it. So you should be able to find out how to.
I’d love for you to make two different changes into your clinical templates here. I would love for you to start adding in the time the patient was seated, and at the bottom, the time the patient was dismissed. So time seated and time dismissed.
I want you to do that because we are — the dental world — is moving into a medical model, and at some point, that is going to be required, and that’s going to be part of your notes. If you’re administering any kind of anesthesia, then you already know that it’s in the notes. So make sure that you just note time seated, time dismissed. Honestly, it’s not going to hurt, so why not? Let’s go ahead and do that.
The second thing is to put in any radiographs that you take. Make sure that you note the reason why you’re taking them. There’s been an increase in audits of practices that are being asked to pay back money because they don’t note why radiographs are being taken. Go back to hygiene school, and doctors go back to dental school. You’ll remember that radiographs were prescribed. They’re never just take because of insurance or because “that’s just how we do it.” Radiographs should be a prescribed procedure based on the criteria that the patient presents to you.
So, what that means is, in your notes, you’ll say “Radiographs required due to…” And it could be comprehensive evaluation — as part of comprehensive evaluation, patient complains of bleeding in one area, patient complains with generalized inflammation. I mean, you could have a ton of stuff that you could do: see interproximal surfaces; wanted to maintain health; evaluate healing. There’s a ton of things you can think about, but we really do need a reason why radiographs are taken.
And, on the flip side of that, I need you to have in your notes “radiographs reviewed” because where they’re getting people on the audits is that maybe the radiograph’s prescription is there, but nowhere in the notes does it say that anyone looked at the radiograph. So just adding in those two words so that your doctor — you know, your doctor’s doing it. Adding in those two words is going to help — “radiographs reviewed” — and, of course, “by doctor so-and-so” if you’re in a group practice. So you want to make sure that that’s part of your notes.
Now, one other thing is to look at your perio charting. When I used to do case presentation, I loved making sure that my perio chart was full of colors and really wonderful to present to the patient because it was so graphic, and people really learn graphically, as you know. I would change the colors. Of course, red is red and yellow is yellow. But the background colors a lot of times you can change. You can have it printed on special paper if you want to. I mean, this is the kind of stuff that you don’t do when you’re in the thick of it. You can take some time to learn it.
So, what I recommend is when you have a patient in for an evaluation and you do that initial periodontal probing, why don’t you offer to send them an email or send them a copy of the periodontal charting or just print it out to them? So print it out to them and say, “Hey, here it is.” Or say, “I can email this to you.” And you do. You have the capability of doing that.
The patient has this. They’re going to take it home. I guarantee you they’re going to show it to somebody. But, what it does is it gives them an understanding of just where the problem areas are because, trust me, when they walk out, they’re going to get down to the parking lot, and they’re going to say, “What did she say? The left side or the right side?” So this is really a good reminder piece for them.
And then say you do scaling and root planning, osseous surgery, whatever it is. Maybe you have some healing in some areas and not in some others. So you put in the probing for that day. Every software has the ability to compare probing, and it’ll show on the chart the first probing, the second probing. And, from a treatment plan presentation point of view — remember I’m not clinical. I was more on the admin side. I was a former assistant, but more on the admin side — from a treatment plan presentation point of view, this was very powerful. And I did see the comprehension in the patient’s eyes because they could clearly see that one side was not doing well or the other side — you know, both sides weren’t doing well. They could tell that they hadn’t progressed, and that really does open up the conversation for home care and how they’re doing with home care.
So I hope that that’s very helpful for you because I did find that presenting the comparison perio chart was a really — was a real asset to me when I was talking to them about moving forward with other treatment plans that were necessary.
So I’m sure there are other minor tweaks that you can think of along the way. I mean, this is a real good time to reset the administrative side of your perio program and to learn what people do up front. You know, what do they do up there? Now’s a good time to ask what do they do up there.
And I also just want to tell you guys that we are all in this together and reach out if you need help with anything. If you’re not feeling particularly good about anything, reach out to your coworkers, reach out to your fellow hygienists. Reach out to somebody because this is the one thing we really didn’t see coming. So it’s okay to mourn that a little bit, but let’s take this opportunity to get some stuff done that we’ve always wanted to do.
Hopefully this tip has helped you — or these little tips have helped you. If you are so interested in listening to more of me and my podcast, it’s called Nobody Told Me That!. My name is Teresa Duncan, and I will be back with another TIPisode in the future. Until then, enjoy.
Michelle Strange: We hope you enjoyed this week’s TIPisode. Be sure to reach out to our guest experts and let them know how helpful their tips were. Follow A Tale of Two Hygienists on Facebook, Instagram, and head over to ataleoftwohygienists.com and subscribe to our newsletter. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and keep listening for more awesome content from your unofficial dental hygiene podcast.
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