Remote Workers Need Schedules Too!
A big part of today’s professional culture is working remotely, and the dental field in particular is benefiting tremendously from this option. Not only does working remotely provide the employee more freedom and eliminate commuting, but it also serves the dental community more effectively nationwide. It allows dental offices access to the vast knowledge possessed by multiple dental billers and insurance specialists who pool their knowledge together like we do here at Dental ClaimSupport- which is exactly why our collections and appeals process is one of the most effective and efficient you will find. Part of the efficiency is a schedule. WAIT, WHAT?! That’s right. Being remote doesn’t mean “I do what I want, when I want!”. It means our remote team members have a very flexible schedule, but a schedule nonetheless.
Could you work remotely in dental billing and “do what you want, when you want”? Sure- if you want to take twice as long to accomplish things and end your day feeling scattered and inefficient. Having a timeline to follow daily is the key to professional and personal success. Everyone wants to be successful at work, AND have a good work/life balance, right? I’ll tell you how it’s done!
After 25 years in the dental field as a clinician and manager, and as a remote Account Executive and now Team Leader, I can tell you- a schedule at home is every bit as important as a schedule in the office.
How do I build my schedule?
Efficiency is key. The first step to creating your schedule is asking yourself in what order do you accomplish the most? Do you accomplish more working aging reports in the morning or in the afternoon? Your best bet is to delegate morning and afternoon to either working aging or posting payments. Posting payments tend to have deadlines, so I prefer to get my posting done in the morning when that applies and hold myself to a mid-day deadline so that I can work aging reports all afternoon. In the event that I don’t have payments to post in the morning, or very few- I will flip flop my schedule and make aging phone calls. As we all know, early morning calls to insurance reps tend to move much more quickly and smoothly.
The second step pertains to the actual posting and working denials. Instinct may tell you to stop what you are doing when you encounter a denial in the middle of posting and work the denial immediately, but if you consider efficiency, this can actually hold you back. If you set that denial aside and complete posting, you can work the denial while you work aging and eliminate possible multiple phone calls. Most importantly, your mid day schedule deadline will remain intact.
Step three relates to posting as well, but from a weekly perspective rather than daily. Paper checks and bank deposits have daily deadlines, so work with that. EFTs, as we all know, don’t hit bank accounts daily or even when they state they do online. It is not efficient to log into web portals every single day looking for EFTs over and over again. The goal is to maintain them within the week the funds are released. Know what insurance companies always release funds on the same day weekly and coordinate other EFT payments with those. For instance, whether your office has checks daily or twice a week determines how you can tailor your EFT posting to eliminate spending time on them daily. You do not have to check all EFTs every time you have checks to post. For instance, United Concordia always releases EFTs on Tuesdays so I post all EFTs for an office from Monday through Wednesday that week on Wednesday. I post Thursday and Friday EFTs on Friday. I do have a backup to this schedule for heavy paper check posting weeks. I will post all EFTs for that week on Friday in the morning and work Aging Friday afternoons. Friday is my “hard deadline” for EFTs, which works well with my non negotiable Friday afternoon aging report work, as they tend to go hand in hand.
Step four is to schedule your claim submission during your day. Typically claims are submitted next business day to give the office time to correct any claims they may need to. The most effective plan is to submit all claims first thing in the morning, next business day, before you begin your posting and aging schedule. If this is not applicable for your office’s requests, then adapt, but be sure you are not submitting claims more than twice a day, at the same time. Submitting claims is easy to forget to do if you do not have a non negotiable time to do it per office.
Now, remember those denials we set aside? If you have implemented the schedule above, you should have at least 2 mornings or 2 afternoons that are free and quiet to work on this, and/or more aging, because you have set yourself up to not be posting payments randomly all day every day.
What about lunch? What about breaks? When do I make appointments or go to the gym? These are extremely important questions. It’s very easy to work non stop at home and not realize you have even done so- because the beauty of working at home is that you’re comfortable. You have to take care of you in order to be your best! Set times aside daily for meals or free time. I tend to make appointments early in the day or at lunchtime for an extended lunch break when possible, just as I would if I worked in an office, otherwise I will tend to neglect myself. I plan ahead and may work a little extra the day before an appointment as well. If you stick to a schedule as outlined above, you will likely find some extra breaks or quiet time may just “happen” for you because you will be maximizing your work time so well.
Having a schedule, ironically, will grant you much more freedom than “doing what you want, when you want!”
– Stephenie Neville