Dental outsourcing is a complicated topic that generates different thoughts and emotions from my reader base. Outsourcing touches all of us and in most cases we don’t even realize that we are all outsourcers. For most of us, when we hear the term outsourcing we think of greedy industrialists and corporate America sending US jobs abroad.
In dentistry, and in our daily lives, outsourcing and paying for convenience is a common activity. Here are some common outsourcing activities that you and I engage in daily;
- Referring procedures to specialists
- Using HR, Payroll and E-claims service companies
- Going to the bank (online included)
- Contracting an IT firm to support your computer network
- Sending impressions to the C&B laboratory
- Using a marketing firm to manage your social media activity
- Using a patient communication service to confirm appointments and market patients
- Getting your car repaired at the service dealer
If you are a cosmetic dentist, then you may have thought I was referring to the popularity of vacation dentistry in Costa Rica and other tourist destinations (off shoring/outsourcing).
My true goal however, is to examine outsourcing in dentistry objectively. We are all engaged in outsourcing and I believe outsourcing will play an even bigger role in our future. Most small businesses lack the resources, facility and talent to scale up during this period of consolidation and a slow growth/sluggish economy. They have no choice but to outsource certain vital business functions and oversight to improve operations and control escalating costs.
Big business has always been focused on managing costs and efficiency which leads to operational improvements and over-all profitability. The centralization of certain business functions is in vogue for many types of business. This can result in a reduction in personnel, improved oversight and better quality. They have also found that it’s easier to staff and train personnel in one facility even if that facility serves a national framework. These same companies evaluate various processes and systems to determine if they should be managed in house or outsourced by reviewing costs and benefits. When the quality and service levels meet basic minimum standards and the cost savings are significant, big business will contract others to provide those critical services.
So Why Outsource?
I believe most businesses hope to reduce costs and focus on their core business by outsourcing certain tasks and functions. Other businesses outsource to improve their quality, reduce start-up costs and planning efforts. Some firms outsource to reduce labor costs and to finance projects as there may be tax advantages to do so.
In the future, the outsourcing of creative and administrative processes will become the norm as pay by production or piecemeal may be friendlier than hourly compensation with the burden of all of the HR components. Lastly, innovation and specialized skills have always been in demand and have their roots in outsourcing!
I believe patient insurance eligibility and the verification of employee benefits will be amongst the first processes to be outsourced by dental facilities because it makes good sense to do so. This will free up time for the administrative team to execute on profitable activities that yield revenue or compliment your brand. We must all be more patient/customer focused in this new era of social media to avoid commoditization.
Recently, I attended a group practice symposium with several consultants and corporate executives. It was the first time I ever attended an event like this and it was a real eye opener for me. My clients are 100% privately owned and operated so I am not exposed to institutional accounts or national chains with any regularity.
I know fee for service and PPO dentistry but I am a novice on group practice. It was exciting for me to learn about these group practices and their level of sophistication. The Dental Service Organizations [DSO’S] operate serious businesses with the appearance of your neighborhood dental office. They monitor key practice, performance indicators and utilize the business tools in their practice management software. They know the clinical care and operational norms of the industry and work with their facilities to meet them. This is why they will continue to grow. They are paying attention to details and put resources where needed.
Truth be told, I have a wonderful client list that I have been serving for over twenty two years! I am very fortunate to serve such a great group of clinicians and their teams but many of them have struggled since the Armageddon of 2008. While I continue to introduce unique opportunities, interesting products and services to improve their operational efficiency or new patient numbers, there are clients who choose to not engage.
Fortunately, I have many clients that are students of the business and are committed to growth and development. We continue to make strides and will win the future! Working for Henry Schein Dental provides me with a portfolio of products and services second to none in the industry. Inspiring and motivating people to change, is my mission and I love what I do.
Below is a small write up on a company that is all about efficiency. I suspect we will see many more companies like this pop up over time. Many of the vital functions done in the front office can be provided by a service company that may do it better, faster and for less! Depending upon the service or process, your personnel may be involved obtaining the data.
Laura Edwards (Director of Marketing at OneMind Health) is a friend and vital connection in my dental network. I have asked Laura to tell us what OneMind Health is all about.
OneMind Health is a technology company with a unique system that helps dental practices get paid faster from insurance companies and from patients with much less work and much less stress. You might have known us by our previous name, MDE or Mercury Data Exchange – we changed our name last year to OneMind Health. The idea behind “One Mind” is that we see our mission as being the connector/translator that can get the various players in the dental world to be “of One Mind”.
Our suite of products, called OM Dental Suite helps to translate 3 main exchanges for the practice
- Verifying patient benefits
- Sending and managing claims
- Sending and managing patient statements
Our newest product, Complete Benefits Delivered, does exactly what the name says – it delivers complete details, including annual max and specific code information, on your patient’s benefit plan – automatically. Now you can FINALLY get your team off the phone, reduce denied claims and help patients accept the treatment you’re recommending. Check out their website: http://onemindhealth.com/om-dental-suite/om-propel/om-propel-with-complete-benefits-delivered/
Regardless of their business model, an organization must monitor its performance. A little tweak in case presentation, financial arrangements/solutions, reactivation, re-care or the patient verification process could mean upwards of a 30% increase in production. Most businesses realize the need for the data and analysis but it adds layers to their work and is often ignored. They are caught between production and training and the clinical and the operational. It’s just too much to handle without the right systems and people.
We will continue to see the dental marketplace consolidate over the next decade. This means more mergers and acquisitions and a movement towards group practices. These activities will increase outsourcing activity. Combine these activities with our new digital infrastructure and the dental landscape will be changed forever. What is considered a traditional dental practice today will be a dinosaur tomorrow?
Modern dental facilities embrace technology, are built for efficiency, are moving towards Same Day Dentistry and provide a unique patient experience. They are patient centric and operationally effective. Organizations that fail to remain competitive in this new normal will gradually lose market share. The Web and mobile search capabilities are making it easier for the consumer to evaluate and compare.
I work for a fortune 500 company and we are always reinventing ourselves. It is seen as a curse by some in our company and a pathway to success for many. As the market changes so must we to secure and win our future. You are either a willing or unwilling participant. Whether you are cultivating, acquiring or transitioning – put on your seatbelt!