Keep Electronic Narratives Brief

Whether writing a narrative to support a periodontal claim, restorative claim, or orthodontic claim, electronic narratives should be as brief as possible. In fact, the longer the narrative the greater the possibility that it will not be read. This is because some clearinghouses and third-party payers can only accommodate electronic narratives up to 100 characters, even though some practice management systems are able to transmit 150-200 characters. Keep in mind that electronic claims often pass through several clearinghouses before ever reaching their final destination, which increases the possibility that your narrative may be truncated by the time it reaches the patient's dental carrier. When this happens, the carrier may return the claim requesting additional information—the same information that you sent with the original claim!

Quick Quiz:

Question: In the sample narrative below, what is the only piece of information that actually needs to be included in the remarks section of the claim form?

Sample Narrative: Prior crown on #8 is ten years old with fractured porcelain, an open margin, and caries on the distal margin.

Answer: The fact that #8 had a ten-year-old prior crown should already be noted in Box 43 and Box 44 of the most recent ADA claim form. Fractured porcelain is not enough to justify a new crown, nor is an open margin without decay. However, caries on the distal margin does justify payment for a new crown. So, in this situation, "caries on distal margin" is the only information that actually needs to be included in the remarks section of the claim.