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The Power of e

A casual stroll through the local department store to purchase a new wardrobe has become a bidding war waged online at various e-auction sites. Grocery shopping has become a snap, or rather a click, with e-grocers capable of delivering your groceries right to your front door. Vacation planning has never been more simple using online sites dedicated to finding you the lowest airfare, least expensive hotel, and best package deals on entertainment attractions. In addition, when you go to the airport for departure, you can use your e-ticket at the computer kiosk to avoid spending extended quality time with the ticketing agent.

And why not? Electronic business (eBusiness) has been sweeping the nation for years to some very positive ends. In the examples above, you're on the receiving end of better deals and more convenience because of eBusiness capabilities. Of course, this holds true not just in our personal lives but in our workplace as well. Practice management software has been a mainstay in most dental practice front offices for many years. Now we're expanding into computers in the operatories, digital radiography, and digital photography, in and outside the mouth. While some dentists still complain about technology, virtually all of us receive significant benefits from today's computer technology. Infact, most of us probably couldn't do our jobs or run our business as well as we do without help from some form of automation, usually PCs.

Granted, even though we can't fully automate every business operation, there's plenty of room for more automation in most business operations. One area that's very easy to automate, not to mention extremely cost effective and profit enhancing, is our work with forms. Obviously, it's worth a look. By moving from paper to electronic forms, you not only eliminate waste and increase forms-related productivity, but you also create the potential to automate a lot of the information processing that lies at the heart of your business or professional success.



Not that long ago, our office was still using paper-based statements and insurance claims. Everything ran fairly smoothly, but it was a very time-consuming process to print, stuff, and stamp statements and envelopes. The office staff's time would be better spent doing other things. We did statements twice a month, and it took about 4 hours each time. The office staff enjoyed handwriting notes on the statements-adding a personal touch, but the time it took to accomplish this task was much too long.

After we learned about some of the eBusiness options available to us from a statement perspective through our practice management software provider (we use Patterson EagleSoft, but there are many vendors offering similar eBusiness solutions), the staff discussed going to electronic processing of statements. We really liked the ease of electronic insurance claims and thought we should investigate the ease of use for utilizing eStatement. We have been sending our claims electronically for years. The turn-around time on electronic claims is much faster than by mail, so we decided it was the appropriate time to make the switch to eStatements.



Our office manager was the real driving force behind the switch, and our office is running even more smoothly and efficiently than it ever has, thanks to eStatements and eClaims.


The statements look so much more professional than before, so it is to our benefit to use them. Let's face it-we are running a business here, and the statements should reflect what we're trying to accomplish. Of course, you can still add a personal note if you want, or print the statements you want to personalize and send them out from the office. You also can add your own message that will print on all statements over a certain age.

With eClaims, office managers now have instantaneous access to the status of insurance claims. With the click of a button, we can check on the status of a claim with both the clearinghouse and the participating insurance company, eliminating the need to make lengthy, and sometimes multiple telephone calls. As a claim is tracked, the office efficiently obtains valuable information, such as if the clearinghouse received the claim; if the clearinghouse forwarded the claim to the insurance company; and if the insurance company accepted the claim. If the claim is rejected, the office is notified immediately.


Some people still seem to worry that computerization of the workplace means they'll be out of a job before they know it or that they'll start losing the physical control they have with paper-based claims and statements. Neither of these statements is true. First, you won't be out of a job, but you will be more efficient in the job you are doing! By sending everything electronically, our office staff actually has more time to follow up on past due accounts and claims that are older than 30 days. The extra time also is used for phone calls to accounts that need calling and going through charts to reach out to some of the inactive patients to see if we can get them back into the office.

Secondly, there is absolutely no control lost. These things can't send themselves! If we feel a statement needs more than the usual attention, it is simply printed here at the office and handled the old-fashioned way. We have the option to do that, so we always have the control we need.

Oh, and did we mention that we have a team of designated eBusiness experts available to us with a simple phone call if we ever face any challenges or have any questions? It helps to pick the right partner when you're moving into the digital arena, and having access to a specialized group of individuals whose sole purpose is to help us get the most out of our eBusiness solutions is very comforting, especially anytime we hit the  "send" button.

In all honesty, our patients see our statements as more businesslike, and payments have definitely increased and been received faster since we switched to eStatements. And eClaims continues to save us hours of unending telephone calls to insurance companies and add years to our office manager's life.

eBusiness is inevitable, and the sooner you embrace it, the sooner you'll realize how much more efficient and productive your office can become.




Dr. Hynek is a graduate of Loyola School of Dentistry and has been practicing general dentistry for 17 years. He is in private practice in Oswego, Ill, and Calumet City, Ill, with a staff of 9, including 2 hygienists, 3 assistants, and 3 administrative personnel.  He can be reached at (630) 554-1855.


Ms. Schillinger has worked as the office manager of Dr. Hynek's Oswego practice for the past 15 years. She can be reached at (630) 554-1855.


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