Use of the CDT codes In Your Dental Practice
By Dennis Lanier, CDT
The codes that I am talking about are the Current Dental Terminology codes that dental practices use to document their services and lead to faster reimbursement from insurance companies. It is also important to use the most current CDT/CPT/ICD-10-CM code combinations, when it comes to accurately getting the full amount of your insurance claims. More detailed options for documentation also provides better protection from legal liability, as well as fewer rejected insurance claims.
Most dental practices have the codes in their software, which are revised annually, but also buy a hard copy called the CDT Code Kit from the ADA ($85 member price). The kit includes the following items:
- Dental Procedure Codes Book (J017);
- Coding Companion Book, “Help Guide for the Dental Team” (J447), which includes coding questions and answers in real life scenarios that will help your staff reduce rejected claims;
- CDT Code Check App (J017i) for iOS or Android to make the codes quickly accessible whenever you need them.
The ADA owns the rights to CDT codes and the codes are the standard baseline used by most in the dental field.
Many practitioners are not aware of any other steps that can be taken to cut coding errors and boost legitimate reimbursements. I would recommend your next step to be a more aggressive strategy that not only has the codes, but also provides suggestions on when to send, what to send and how to say it.
I am a member of the American Dental Coders Association (ADCA) pursuing my certification as a Certified Dental Coder (CDC). The ADCA specializes in bringing us the latest industry information, coding tactics, and skill sets to optimize our dental billing and coding, and is a great source for CEU sharing and has meetings around the country.
As part of your strategy development, I would recommend two books, Coding with Confidence and Administration with Confidence by Charles Blair DDS. Both books have easy to follow sections for each code. The “Coding Correction” section is colored green, yellow or red to quickly identify problems for each code. There are also sections for comments, limitations, narratives, and sometimes photos for each code.
Another tool is the online system called Practice Booster (www.practicebooster.com) because you can access resources such as:
- The Code Advisor
- Call center support to assist you with dental or medical coding issues (live between 9AM to 6PM Monday – Thursday)
- The Insurance Solution Newsletter which keeps you up on what is happening in the industry
- The Forum to see the experiences of other offices. The main reason this is a great tool for me is because it is on my cell phone and tablet which means I can study anytime, anywhere.
Taking your insurance billing and coding to this next level will definitely increase your bottom line, but there is still more that industry professionals can do. Have someone from your team attend courses and actively participate by asking questions. Talk to the lecturers any time you can to verify that you completely understand what they have been teaching. Getting to know the experts allows you to get contact information that you can use if questions come up later. Having these types of resources will increase our overall value and respect as part of the dental team.
The aggressive use of all of our resources to get the maximum return from the insurance providers not only helps strengthen our business but also allows the least out of pocket expenses to our patients.