by Jason Tierney
Practicing dental sleep medicine (DSM) places dentists in a unique position in which they fall under the auspices of both dentistry and medicine. Most dentists that have successfully implemented DSM into their practices utilize a dedicated DSM practice management software, typically an electronic medical record (EMR). Many dentists attempt to use traditional dental practice management (PM) software to manage DSM in their practices. This decision is understandable, but, as I’ll show you, not advisable. It likely is detrimental to growth, with the benefits of EMR far outweighing the direct and indirect costs.
Screwdriver vs. hammer
“Screwdrivers and hammers are both tools, yet their uses differ. Can you use a screwdriver as a hammer? Sure, but why would you if a hammer is available?”, asks Dr. Stacey Layman, co-founder of GoGo Billing and owner of two practices in the Phoenix, AZ area. “For years, I tried to manage sleep in my practice using a PM software but it was sorely lacking in many ways. Switching to a DSM software was a game changer. It saved time and helped us keep track of our patients without any details falling through the cracks. Now we conduct exams, send physician letters, and file claims directly through our software.”
Valuation of the practice
Dr. Saba Khalil owned a successful restorative practice in St. Louis, MO where he treated dozens of patients with oral appliance therapy (OAT) monthly. He ultimately decided to sell his restorative practice and focus entirely on DSM. Because his DSM practice records were stored exclusively in his DS3 software, his practice valuation did not include the DSM production. Dr. Khalil was able to sell the restorative practice but move to a new location and practice DSM. He retained all patient records and there was no confusion regarding production figures or encounter note history during the sale. He said, “Had I used my restorative PM software for DSM, the sale of my practice would’ve been a nightmare. DS3 ensured that all of the records and figures were set up to allow for a clean break.”
Protection during audits
Dr. Richard Drake of San Antonio, TX utilizes a DSM-specific EMR to document treatment and file medical insurance claims for his OAT patients. Dr. Drake has been randomly selected for audits on three occasions by various medical payors. He referred to his EMR as a “life saver” when facing these audits. “I just logged into DS3 and went back to seeing patients while the auditors reviewed my records. There was nothing to worry about. With a typical practice management software, I wouldn’t have been so confident,” Drake shared.
For practices that plan to implement and grow DSM, you can use your PM software, but employing a specialized DSM program is the optimum way to go. Incorporating an EMR can decrease your liability and administrative efforts while increasing your productivity and positioning you for success in the event you opt to transition into practicing only DSM in the future.