Dr. John Van Der Werff’s Journey to a New Life and Practice with Nierman Practice Management by his Side
By Rose Nierman
Paralysis did not stop Dr. John Van Der Werff from achieving his dream – a practice limited to Dental Sleep Medicine and TMD treatment. The type of paralysis was not the “analysis paralysis” we occasionally feel when making tough decisions. This time it was the real deal.
John Van Der Werff, DDS had it made as a dentist, family man and community leader. After beginning his dental career in 1982, he purchased a practice in 1985 in Redding, California. When not practicing dentistry, he and his wife went on mission trips and helped start two churches. His practice grew and life was good, when one terrible morning in 2003, he woke up in a hospital. The doctors told him he was a quadriplegic as a result of a ski accident. He had surgery to fuse vertebrae C4-C6 the next day.
I knew John before the accident. I was in shock when he approached me at a TMD and sleep apnea dental meeting and told me about his accident. He shared with me that he believed that he had recovered just enough use of his hands to return to practice with a focus on Dental Sleep Medicine and TMD treatment. As he talked to his friends and considered his gifts and experience, he became determined to help patients with jaw pain and TMJ disorders. Pursuing continuing education opportunities, Dr. Van Der Werff obtained Diplomate and fellowship status in TMD and dental sleep academies.
I had told John that we would do whatever we could to help him get back to his practice again. In a relatively short time, Dr. John Van Der Werff and his team proved to be very successful in providing the best quality care possible to their patients, while enjoying their new practice.
This year at a meeting, John told another colleague with whom I was visiting that he is not only grateful to our company for helping him out with a recent insurance audit, but that he could not have returned to his new rewarding practice without the help of Nierman Practice Management and DentalWriter™ Software to manage the medical billing and narrative reports for his sleep and TMD patients. This did my heart good.
According to Dr. Van Der Werff, “There are some days in our lives – not many, but some days –which, when they come to an end, will have changed us forever. This was one of those days.”
We salute Dr. Van Der Werff for taking this day in 2003 – the day of all days – and with unwavering faith – beginning anew to help chronic pain and obstructive sleep apnea patients. And, we are thrilled that DentalWriter Software and our team at Nierman Practice Management could have a small hand in helping him regain this part of his life.
Transforming Dr. Terry Billings’ Dental Sleep Medicine Practice with Medical Billing Training and Education
By Rose Nierman
Dr. Terry Billings was one of the first dentists to incorporate functional appliances into his practice and recognized that jaw structure, airway and sleep breathing issues are all related. When consulting with his patients about snoring and morning headaches he suspected sleep breathing issues and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and wanted to get started treating his patients with oral appliances and collaborate with their physicians.
Dr. Billings approached me a couple of years ago concerned with the low number of his OSA patients moving forward with treatment. He had a hunch that the majority of patients had a fear of the unknown and would have accepted Oral Appliance Therapy with a more clearly defined estimate of their medical insurance coverage than his office was able to provide. I assured Dr. Billings that we see this often and helping our clients’ become true experts at billing and estimating benefits for OSA and TMD is what the Nierman Team is here for!
We then invited Dr. Billings and his Dental Sleep Coordinator, Jeanne, to join Nierman Practice Management’s CrossCoding; Successful Medical Billing in Dentistry™ Seminar in Jupiter, FL. At the seminar they learned efficient medical billing protocols and how to estimate out-of-network benefits and present these benefits to their patients.
Following the seminar, we were thrilled to hear from them that they are helping many more patients than they thought possible. Jeanne reached out to myself and Courtney Snow a few times to talk through insurance cases over the next couple months, and that’s all it took! The percentage of patients accepting treatment skyrocketed and referring physicians are delighted that their office is proficient at billing medical insurance for oral appliance therapy and now refer many more patients. “Our practice has really become inundated with patients who need our help”, says Jeanne.
Jeanne loves her role as their dental sleep apnea coordinator. “I’m the patient’s first contact when scheduling appointments and in coordinating consults with physicians. I’m also their advocate in helping them move forward with treatment.” Although some practices outsource the billing to Nierman’s CrossCode™ Medical Billing Service, Dr. Billings has “all hands on deck”, billing insurance in-house with Nierman Practice Management’s DentalWriter™ Software.
Dr. Billing’s website now touts that “Jeanne’s specialty is getting medical insurance coverage for your oral sleep appliance. She handles all insurance matters from pre-authorization, filing your claim, and collecting the payment from your insurance company. She works for you, the patient, to ensure that you pay the minimum out of pocket amount for your oral appliance to treat sleep apnea.”
We are happy that our CrossCoding™ Medical Billing seminar, DentalWriter™ Software and the Nierman Team helped Dr. Billings focus his practice and connect with physicians to treat OSA. All of this is especially rewarding to hear because Dr. Billings’ office had been displaced by Hurricane Katrina several years ago. To watch them rebuild stronger than ever is inspiring.
Their quest to help patients escape the social and health consequences of obstructive sleep apnea such as heart disease, stroke, daytime sleepiness, cognitive disorder and orofacial pain makes it all worthwhile!