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Posted February 02, 2016

dental-dentist-RDH-Hygiene-hygienistAt the beginning of the year, we have the opportunity for a new start. Yet, we often get bogged down by what we didn’t accomplish in 2015. Why? Most often we don’t have a simple, actionable system or strategy. Rather than taking a year at a time, look at 90 days and add one simple, actionable step to your routine. For the next 90 days, document dental-medical necessity for every patient, Twitter-style.

Why Dental-Medical Necessity?

Many studies in recent years have investigated the relationship between oral and systemic conditions. An increasing number of dental carriers are recognizing the medical nature of certain dental procedures. Dental-medical necessity is the reason why a test, a procedure or an instruction is given. Dental-medical necessity is different from person to person and changes over time. There is benefit to all practices to document it routinely to help optimize dental benefit coverage and cross-coding opportunities.

Twitter-Style: Less is More

Many people tend to over-write, in a similar way to how they speak. Twitter taught users to send and read short 140-character messages. That isn’t 140 words or even 140 letters, its 140characters,including letters, numbers, symbols, punctuation and spaces. Writing Twitter-style squeezes out the excess, leaving only the nourishing juice.

A sample dental-medical necessity written Twitter-style might read:

High-risk pregnancy. High-risk caries. Plaque-induced gingival disease modified by systemic factors-pregnancy, #14-15 Chronic Periodontitis 2mm bone loss

This is a 153-character dental-medical necessity that gives medical information, risk assessment and a periodontal diagnosis.

“Tweeting” Medication Risk

Those long lists of medications our patients take every day often contribute to dry mouth. Lack of saliva is much more than just irritating; it can be a contributing factor in caries infection, oral cancer, and periodontal disease. This means that the medications themselves, as well as what they treat, are part of the dental-medical necessity. A sample Twitter-style write-up might read:

Diabetes & Coronary artery disease. Vasotec, Topamax, Albuterol, Lipitor, 81mg. aspirin. Extreme oral dryness.

This patient’s dental-medical necessity is evident with this concise, specific 111 character “tweet.”

One Simple Change

Often we read articles hoping for that one simple step. A simple change has been offered, yet as Steve Jobs said,

“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

Twitter-style documentation of dental-medical necessity isn’t difficult, but it requires team cooperation, new thinking, and practice. Take this simple approach for 90 days; you might be surprised at how it increases the efficiency and profitability of your practice.

To learn more, order and read DentalCodeology: Jump Start Diagnostic Coding by Patti DiGangi and Christine Taxin.