Why You Should Standardize Your Coding Procedures

November 14, 2023 | 4 min read

For many dental practices, treatment codes are the necessary evil — keeping up with the evolving systems is time-consuming and labor-intensive, yet not doing so isn’t an option. An efficient coding practice is the backbone of effective dental revenue cycle management (RCM), without which your revenue and cash flow could be impacted negatively.

Let’s look at the common challenges and how you can overcome them by standardizing coding procedures.

Common Treatment Code Management Challenges

Dental practices and DSOs must stay current with the latest code sets to ensure accurate billing. Meanwhile, coding complex, multi-step dental procedures is an error-prone process. If you miss a few codes in your claims, you may not get reimbursed for the entire procedure!

Errors and omissions, like inaccurately assigned codes, may lead to denied claims or even violation of insurance regulations. You often need to resubmit the claims, causing delays in payment, increasing administrative costs, and impacting your cash flow. 

However, training and educating dental staff on proper treatment code assignment and management is time-consuming and expensive. You must also implement a documentation process and maintain up-to-date records to support billing and insurance claim processing. 

Manually managing treatment codes and claim submission is labor-intensive and error-prone. Yet, the path to automation isn’t always straightforward. For example, if you use a billing application that doesn’t play nicely with your dental practice management software, you risk increasing administrative complexity and creating a frustrating employee experience.

Additionally, as patients become responsible for a larger portion of their treatment costs, dental offices often need to explain the out-of-pocket expenses to patients. You must clearly break down the costs and communicate the treatment coding process to patients to promote transparency, build trust, encourage prompt payment, and avoid disputes.

Standardize Coding Procedure To Improve Revenue Cycle Management

Standardizing coding procedures can help you overcome the billing and treatment code management challenges discussed above. 

“By implementing standardized coding procedures across an organization, dental practices can reduce errors and improve overall financial efficiency. Consistent, internal organization of these processes is crucial to successful data governance and reporting.” ~ Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) Best Practices for Enhanced Dental Practice Performance white paper.

The process involves establishing uniform and consistent protocols and guidelines for assigning billing codes to dental procedures, treatments, and services and ensuring all employees follow defined rules when selecting billing codes.

The Benefits of Standardizing Coding Procedures

Standardization improves billing accuracy and avoids coding errors that could delay reimbursement and impact cash flow. It helps improve operational efficiency and staff productivity while reducing administrative burden. Meanwhile, the streamlined documentation supports consistent patient record-keeping.

The standard guidelines help facilitate communications among staff members and simplify employee training and onboarding. They can also improve patient communication by promoting clarity, consistency, and transparency to minimize disputes and frustration.

Standardized coding procedures help you comply with insurance regulations and legal requirements. When coding systems or regulations change, you can quickly update the procedures to stay current. Additionally, you can implement more efficient quality control to review and verify coding accuracy before claim submission. 

Standardization contributes to better data analytics and decision-making because it's simpler to track the performance of specific procedures. Meanwhile, reduced errors, streamlined billing, and improved reimbursement mean better financial health for your practice.

Get the action plan to standardize treatment codes with our newest white paper: The Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) Best Practices for Enhanced Dental Practice Performance 


Support Coding Procedure Standardization with Dental Practice Management Software 

A robust cloud dental software brings all the pieces together to help you improve treatment code management and ensure billing accuracy. A cloud-based, integrated platform, like tab32, enables you to standardize procedures across multiple locations and in all administrative processes to ensure consistency and accuracy. 

For example, you can set up “explosion codes” templates in the EHR module to add all the billing codes associated with a procedure to a patient’s chart during treatment and avoid spending hours matching up codes later. Meanwhile, our billing module integrates seamlessly with the EHR function to minimize manual processes and ensure the right billing codes are submitted to payers for faster reimbursement. 

Request a demo to see how we can help you improve RCM and your practice’s financial health.

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