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2020 has brought many unexpected challenges. Now is a good time to evaluate the health of your practice and make changes for the new year.

CDA has created a Practice Health Check to help you with this process. Answer the questions below to assess your practice’s readiness across regulatory compliance, dental benefits, employment and practice management. Utilize the resources provided with each question to implement change and mitigate risk in your practice.

Regulatory Compliance
Do you have the required controlled substances prescription forms for 2021? 

Valid prescription forms for controlled substances in 2021 must meet state requirements which include a bar code and serial number. E-prescribing for all medication prescriptions becomes mandatory in 2022 so switch to electronic now if you don’t want to have a bunch of useless forms at the end of 2021.

Learn more: Controlled Substances Prescribing and Dispensing

Have you updated your COVID-19 addendum to the Injury and Illness Prevention Plan? 

The updated template is more in line with current CDPH and CDC guidance. Cal/OSHA expects employers to have written policies in place to prevent transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the workplace.

Learn more: COVID-19 Addendum to the IIPP

Do you have adequate PPE for a minimum of 14 business days? 

CDPH guidance establishes this standard. Disposable gowns and N-95 respirators may not be available at all times. Consider using reusable gowns and alternate respirators such as powered air-purifying respirators and elastomerics which can be disinfected.

Learn more: CDC Optimizing Personal Protective Equipment Supplies

Dental Benefits
Have you prepared for 2021 CDT code changes and updated your professional practice fees accordingly?

The American Dental Association updates the Current Dental Codes (CDT) annually. To avoid claims delays or denials in the upcoming year it is important to understand how the codes have changed year to year. CDA recommends dentists should evaluate their fees annually to ensure they are competitive and evaluate fluctuations in overhead costs.

Learn more: Understanding Dental Benefit Plan Contracts & Fees, see section titled “How often should fee schedules be updated?”

Have you reached out to patients to encourage scheduling procedures before the end of the year?

Most dental benefit plan maximum annual coverage dollars are lost if not spent before the end of the benefit year. As 2021 comes to an end it is important to educate your patients on how they may take full advantage of their dental coverage and complete treatment plans.

Learn more: Dental Benefit Plan Handbook Chapter 3 - Verification and Explanation of Dental Benefit Coverage

Employment
Does your exempt employee’s salary meet the minimum required by state law?

Exempt employees in California generally must earn a minimum monthly salary of no less than two times the state minimum wage for full time employment. An exempt employee’s full weekly wages must be paid for each week in which any work was performed. Because of the complexity of this area of law and the potential for fines and awards of back overtime pay when an employee is misclassified, understanding the distinction between exempt and nonexempt “hourly” employees is crucial. 

Resources:

Employee Exemption Checklist

California Minimum Wage Poster

Job descriptions: Best Practices, Tools & Samples

Exempt Employee Sample Offer Letter

Read more: Proceed with caution when making pay deductions for salaried employees

Are your wage statements accurate and compliant with CA law?

California Labor Code Section 226 contains very specific requirements for the information employers must put on employees’ wage statements and imposes financial 

penalties on employers who don’t follow those requirements. 

In order to avoid risk, employers should perform a periodic audit of employee’s wage statements to ensure that they are compliant. In general, payroll processing companies rely on the employer to provide accurate information and are not responsible for non-compliant wage statements.

Resources: Essential elements of a wage statement in California 

The DLSE Enforcement Policies and Interpretations Manual 

Are you scheduling working interviews as part of your hiring process?

All employers who require any applicant to work as part of the interview process must pay the candidate for the time spent in the working interview. The law is very simple and clear on this.

Since candidates, as employees, who perform working interviews must receive timely pay, for all time worked, they must complete all relevant new hire documents, such as a W-4 and an I-9, and the employer must pay all applicable payroll taxes. It is also important for employers utilizing working interviews to be aware that applicants can legally file claims for unemployment benefits (if they are not subsequently hired) or workers’ compensation benefits (if they are injured during the working interview).

Resources: Offer Letter: Nonexempt Temporary Employee 

New Employee Orientation and Onboarding Checklist 

The Laws Relating to the Time, Manner and Payment of Wages 

Read more: Compliance essentials: Hiring and paying temporary employees  

Practice Management
Have you adapted your schedule to consider the impact of COVID-19 (production goals, capacity and staffing)?

Each year, it is important to evaluate your practice’s schedule and plan the schedule for the upcoming year. This year is especially critical.

Consider the following:

  • Utilize practice management software reports to analyze:
    • the past 2-3 years of practice production
    • production by provider
    • hygiene production
    • new patient volume
    • seasonal fluctuations in the schedule
  • Identify trends and market conditions in your area which may impact the schedule.
  • Recognize growth opportunities or limitations based on the practice’s physical capacity, services, staffing and technology.

A schedule template serves as the foundation in which to base strategic business decisions, such as staffing needs/hours, PPE / supply management, and equipment purchases.

Learn more: Scheduling Patients - COVID-19 Precautions

Staging the Dental Practice (for physical distancing and safe patient flow)

Do all patients receiving treatment in your practice sign a financial agreement and understand their financial obligation?

Response: Managing collections is a DAILY system that needs to be managed. The goal should be to collect 98% of patient payments and co-pays at time of service. To achieve this goal, the practice must have clear and constant financial procedures and communication tactics in place. Financial arrangements should be discussed and determined with the patient prior to the patient’s appointment.

Resource: Patient Financial Agreement and Consent

More Resources

Access more Practice Health resources in our comprehensive Practice Support Resource Library.