Preparing for the digital healthcare revolution

January 8th, 2015

As hospitals get ready to launch ICD-10 by October 2015, clinics run by dental schools should be getting ready as well. The world of medical care is changing, and students are going to need help making the transition. A number of new technologies have come into existence, and they are all contributing to make the purchase of quality dental enterprise software a must for colleges and universities that want to ensure their students get a good education.

Electronic health records are becoming the de facto form of sending out information to dental insurance companies and patients for billing purposes. Coding in EHR is not so easy that someone can pick it up right away. It needs to be taught and practiced, and the best way to go about doing this is to have a clinic established where students can work with patients and practice their oral hygiene skills along with their dentistry knowledge. When the patients leave, the students update the EHR in order to process payments through the insurance company and send a bill to the patient. With good dental enterprise software, this is done just as it is with real EHR software. Thus, the students learn exactly as they should without any trouble making the transition once they begin full-time work.

Additional innovations
EHR isn't the only thing that future dentists and oral hygienists need to understand. According to Healthcare IT News, there are a number of trends that doctors must face if they want to become adept in the increasingly digital world of dental work. For one thing, there are now patient portals and other methods for digital access to information a patient would previously have to ask his or her doctor for. Instead, patients can now go online and see their records right there from the comfort of their own home or through a mobile device on the go. These portals record how much money the patients still have to pay on their outstanding bills, along with information they may need for insurance purposes.

Globalization is also becoming a major factor, and this is partly what presses the need to getting ready to use ICD-10. When dentists want to work with other dentists from another country, they will need to send their EHR through the ICD-10 format because everyone else in the developed world already uses ICD-10. In order to match with international records, a patient who travels from one country to another may additionally request that his records be written with ICD-10 compliance.

Mastering insurance through technological innovations
A final matter having to do with technology and dentists is the use of EHR to interact with insurance companies. Filling out EHR forms properly has a lot to do with whether an insurance company will pay for a procedure. Because, as Dentistry IQ points out, insurance companies are largely in the business of making money, they will not easily reimburse a form that was filled out improperly or incompletely. Instead, the company will simply reject it out of hand. This causes a delay not only for the clinic but for the patient as well.

Because of the transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10, dentists and oral hygiene professionals have a lot of codes to keep track of, and the more experience they have with different sorts of EHR software, the better off they will be once they take on a real job at a practicing place of business.

As a further consideration, there is a certain nuance to insurance forms that proper dental enterprise software, like other EHR-processing technology, has built inside of it. There are some ways of filling out a dental form that will result in a "non-negotiable" denial from an insurance provider. But filling out the form differently might lead to a different response. As such, it helps to have the experience of this first hand, and such a thing can only be done when the technology is put into the hands of someone as early as possible.

Filling out insurance forms is so complex that many practices choose to hire a practice administrator to work with insurance companies full-time, but much of this can be done by experienced dentists themselves if they have prior exposure to the tools of the trade.

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