Adding a new location can be a huge lift for any company, so imagine increasing from eight practices to over 77. That’s what Lightwave Dental has managed to achieve over the past five years, leveraging a dedicated Finance Team to oversee operations from a central office.
To manage all their locations spread across the East Coast, Lightwave Dental realized they needed a seamless accounts payable solution like BILL. When integrated with Sage Intacct, BILL automates and streamlines the financial operations for Lightwave Dental and helps them remain HIPAA compliant as they handle patient information. This setup speeds up the onboarding process when acquiring a new practice and helps the Accounting Team centralize their operations.
BILL simplifies the financial management of all locations by enabling one central accounting team to handle the accounts payable (AP) for all locations. “BILL allows us to function in a multi-location space by having one software for our accounts. It’s seamless and efficient for one staff accountant to bounce between locations and update the latest AP information across multiple practices,” said Katie Kraig, Vice President and Controller of Lightwave Dental.
With BILL, each staff accountant is able to manage 10-15 locations, maintaining oversight and approvals for each practice. “Without the speed the accountants gain from having bills auto-coded, it would slow everybody down. We’d probably go from handling 10-15 practices each to a maximum of 5-8, so AP automation with BILL helps us expand our operations without having to hire a ton of new accountants.”
This centralized process gives Lightwave Dental financial oversight of all their practices without having to hire a staff accountant for each location.
With so many locations, it can be difficult to ensure that all invoices receive proper oversight. Lightwave Dental uses BILL to implement two levels of approval for each invoice. The Practice Managers provide the initial approval, since they are familiar with recent purchases and the typical expenses of their practice. From there, the Senior Accountants at Lightwave provide a second layer of approval, following up on any unusually high or unexpected costs. This helps provide both local and management oversight that keeps spending in check without wasting time chasing down information on each invoice.
One of the biggest challenges of partnering with new practices on a regular basis is having to onboard the new staff and introduce them to Lightwave Dental’s policies and procedures. They need an intuitive system so new users can quickly get up-to-speed.
BILL helps streamline the AP process when Lightwave Dental partners with new practices. “The BILL inbox makes it so much easier to transition. It's just a matter of telling the vendor a new email address to use instead, and it makes the transition really smooth,” says Kraig. “Even adding users in BILL is really simple—it takes two seconds to add a user and get them access. The fact that it connects to our accounting system, Sage Intacct, directly makes it scalable.”
BILL’s intuitive interface makes it easy for Practice Managers to learn the software and provides automated reminders for incomplete tasks, easing the transition of each partnership.
Another great benefit of BILL was simplifying the patient refunds process. With so many practices to run, the previous method for patient refunds was keeping a physical checkbook at each location, which created a security risk with little oversight from the management office. Each Practice Manager would have to grab the checkbook from the location’s safe, write the checks by hand, and then scan the checks to their staff accounting who would then have to enter them into Sage Intacct. The Accounting Team often lacked visibility into what the check was for and would have to chase down that information on a case-by-case basis.
Now the staff accountants can just enter the refund amount, name, and address into BILL, utilizing HIPAA enabled processes to submit patient refunds. Staff accountants can also issue all of their practice’s refunds at once by utilizing BILL’s bulk import function, allowing the staff accountant to condense what used to be a few hours of work every week into a single weekly file upload. “The import functionality is so important for those larger volume offices,” says Kraig. “They used to have 50 checks to photograph and input one-by-one into Sage, and now they can just go, ‘Here's the list, import, pay, done.’”
This process helps Lightwave Dental uphold their commitment to protecting patient data while eliminating the risk of keeping a physical checkbook at each location.
Dental Practice Managers are always on the move, juggling patient needs, equipment orders, and administrative tasks. The BILL mobile app makes it easy to handle their practice’s AP from anywhere. “They can be in the break room in the two seconds they have to sit down and eat their lunch and just hop on their phone and approve some things really quickly. That's a great functionality for such a dynamic role,” Kraig explains. For Practice Managers who have to wear so many hats, being able to approve invoices from anywhere is a huge advantage.
Armed with a streamlined financial back office, Lightwave Dental will continue to partner with new locations and expand their operations. Kraig has great advice for controllers of any growing company. “The sooner you implement AP automation, the better. Don't wait. It's much easier to make a transition when you're smaller than it is when you're larger,” she says. “You want to pick a user-friendly option that connects directly to your accounting system. It would be silly to make a selection where you're doing any kind of import or export functionality that's not seamless.”