Three Tech Trends Shaking Up the Dental Landscape in 2020

Today’s dental providers are increasingly discovering the benefits of integrating the latest technologies into their practice.

While the dental industry has traditionally been somewhat slow to adopt digital tools, the tides are shifting as providers begin to embrace software and systems designed to help their practices run more efficiently.

There is good reason for this shift. Research shows that the utilization of technologies, electronic services, and other tools can increase dental practices’ production and streamline workflow by between 10% and 30%.

Simply put, the right technology can improve dental practices’ overall performance.

As we move into 2020, dentistry will continue to be disrupted by technology in a variety of areas. Three tech trends in particular are likely to shake up the dental landscape in the next year.

Clearly, very few dental practices are submitting insurance claims with corresponding attachments such as X-rays and diagnostics on paper anymore. Digital submissions for these materials are now the norm, and, therefore, adoption rates for electronic attachment services are climbing.

Our company, for example, introduced a new attachment service in 2017 to optimize the claims process for both payers and providers. This technology eliminates the need to access another site to use an attachment service, acquire an attachment request, or confirm receipt of attachments.

By fully integrating our offering into DentalXChange’s ClaimConnect application, we were able to offer enhancements and improved claims management previously unavailable to dental offices. Claims are processed more quickly as wait times for approvals, researching, editing, and pre-authorizations are virtually non-existent, and services can be bundled for increased efficiencies.

In the two years since introducing the product, thousands of dental providers have added DentalXChange’s Attachment Service, including a 51% growth in the service over the last 90 days. By working to integrate the service with not only our own ClaimConnect application, but also with several practice management systems, we have seen much quicker adoption and client satisfaction compared to standalone options.

As the dental electronic data interchange (EDI) space expands and becomes more sophisticated, providers and payers are realizing the advantages of technology that allows payers to expedite electronic claims accurately, safely, and speedily.

Revenue Management Tools

Technology that integrates the full revenue cycle of a dental practice with their existing practice management systems is growing in popularity.

This technology includes software services that can verify patient eligibility with a payer, receive and post electronic payments and patient copays, and process credit card payments directly from their software. These services allow practices to streamline payment processes through one company and interface, making bill payment systems notably easier and more intuitive for practices to use.

Digital tools that simplify dental practice management will become even more highly desirable going forward as practices increasingly adopt technology to run their businesses.

Faster Provider Credentialing Services

Verifying provider credentials is a mandatory insurance processing procedure that has the potential to delay payments significantly, especially since dentists are required to recertify their licenses every two years.

Technology that automates credential verification can shorten payment timelines dramatically and provide a more user-friendly way for dental practitioners to keep up with their licensing requirements.

For example, our firm launched a co-branded digital credentialing solution in partnership with Delta Dental of Colorado in 2018 and successfully reduced credentialing processing times by 89%. Throughout 2019 and into 2020, we have seen continued expansion of this service, demonstrating how the industry is growing more accepting of the technology we’ve developed.

Software that helps providers manage their credentials and keep payers current on their status will become increasingly necessary as productivity demands increase in the dental realm.

While the medical and pharmacy fields have been quicker to adopt technology than dentistry to date, dental practices are steadily recognizing that digital tools allow their practices to run more smoothly, efficiently, and cost-effectively in both the short and long term.

As a result, the EDI industry continues to generate new offerings and programs that deliver digital solutions to today’s dental providers and payers.

Looking ahead, increasingly sophisticated insurance claims systems, integrated payment software solutions, and provider credentialing services will continue to lead the pack as dental practitioners rely more heavily on technology to stay competitive in 2020 and beyond.

Mr. Wellwood is president of DentalXChange, a pioneer of the web-based dental EDI solutions industry. DentalXChange accounts for more than $65 billion in dental claims annually. Through its own clearinghouse and secure web portals, the company processes nearly 175 million EDI transactions, consisting of more than 47 million dental claims annually.

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