Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Requiring Referral Sources for New Patients

With the release of Dentrix G7.3 comes some exciting new features. One of them is an option to require a referral source for a new patient. I really like this new feature because I think it will benefit all types of offices.

To enable this new feature, in the Dentrix Office Manager go to Maintenance > Practice Setup > Preferences. At the bottom of the Additional Options section, check the box for Require Referred By for new patients.



Occasionally, an office team member may forget to enter a new patient’s referral source. This can cause reports regarding referral sources to be inaccurate. If these reports are inaccurate, it makes it difficult for a practice to use these reports to analyze data and make future marketing decisions.

By requiring a referral source for new patients, you can rely on the data you receive from these reports to be accurate. With accurate information, you can:
  • Determine whether your practice advertising efforts are successful and what type of return on your investment you are receiving. Because these reports also include production generated from referred patients, it allows you to put a monetary value on each referred patient, therefore giving you the ability to analyze the return on your advertising investment.
  • Know who your main referring doctors are and develop a way to thank them. This is particularly helpful for specialty offices.
  • Evaluate which patients are referring their friends and family, especially if your office relies on internal marketing through patient referrals.

The Referred by Patient and Referred by Doctor/Other Reports provide valuable information regarding referral sources to your office. This information can be used to analyze current and future marketing plans. However, these reports are only accurate if referral sources are being entered into Dentrix.

By requiring a referral source for new patients, you can eliminate the problem of no referrals being entered. I’m excited about this new feature. I believe it will benefit all types of offices, both general dentistry as well as specialty, to create more accurate reports and therefore make better marketing decisions.

If you have questions about this topic or others, please e-mail me at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.


Charlotte Skaggs, Certified Dentrix Trainer

Charlotte Skaggs is the founder of Vector Dental Consulting LLC, a practice management firm focused on taking offices to the next level. Charlotte co-owned and managed a successful dental practice with her husband for 17 years. She has a unique approach to consulting based on the perspective of a practice owner. Charlotte has been using Dentrix for almost 20 years and is a certified Dentrix trainer. Contact Charlotte at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

A Tip Worth Remembering

As this week is Thanksgiving, it’s time to think about all the things in our lives that we are thankful for. One of the things I’m thankful for is you, my readers. Thank you for taking time each week to read my blog and I hope I’m able to provide you with tips that make your work-day a little easier.

This week, I am re-posting a reader favorite, 5 Tips for Efficient Patient Check Out. This post provides tips on how to use Dentrix for a smoother patient check out, as well as ways to use this time as an opportunity to remind patients to schedule their next appointment.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Charlotte Skaggs, Certified Dentrix Trainer

Charlotte Skaggs is the founder of Vector Dental Consulting LLC, a practice management firm focused on taking offices to the next level. Charlotte co-owned and managed a successful dental practice with her husband for 17 years. She has a unique approach to consulting based on the perspective of a practice owner. Charlotte has been using Dentrix for almost 20 years and is a certified Dentrix trainer. Contact Charlotte at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Utilizing Treatment Plan Reminder Letters

Last month, I wrote a blog about how to find patients with outstanding treatment that have remaining insurance benefits. It’s important to contact those patients to get them to schedule their outstanding treatment because not only can it increase your practice’s production, but it’s also a good service to your patients to help them track of and use their insurance benefits. Scheduling treatment helps your patients to get the quality dental care need they need while taking advantage of their outstanding insurance benefits.

The best tool to use in Dentrix to create a report of patients with outstanding treatment and remaining insurance is the Treatment Manager. I like to use the Treatment Manager to contact these patients by phone because you can easily log correspondence in the Office Journal directly from the Treatment Manager. However, if you are unable to reach patients by phone, you can send them a letter which includes remaining insurance benefit information. Sending a letter is another way to communicate important information about remaining insurance benefits to your patients.

When sending letters to groups of patients based on customized criteria, I recommend using Letters and Custom Lists in the Office Manager. Letters and Custom Lists allows you to create letters or lists of patients meeting a selected criterion. A good letter to use for patients who have outstanding treatment plans and remaining insurance benefits is the Treatment Plan Reminder letter which is a template in Letters and Custom Lists. To find this letter template, open the Office Manager, click the Letters & Custom Lists menu item and then click Misc. Highlight Treatment Plan Reminder from the list of letters, and click Edit.



From the Letter or Custom List Setup screen, you can set a filter to select a range of remaining insurance benefits. For example, you may want to set the Dental Ins. filter to include patients with remaining benefits of $500-$1500. You can set the Procedures filter to include a particular procedure code, a procedure code range, or to search for all procedure codes. Within the Procedures filter, you can also set a date range for the treatment planned procedures. I would recommend selecting a date range for this calendar year to send letters to all patients with treatment planned procedures in 2019.



Once you’ve set all the filters you need, click OK and create your letters. When generating the letters, I would recommend selecting the option for Dentrix to automatically create an Office Journal entry for these letters. This saves you from having to make manual entries in the Office Journal to say that you sent a letter to the patient.

Send these letters to your patients to prompt them to call for an appointment for their outstanding treatment plans. This can help your office to keep a consistently full schedule and meet your production goals. It’s also beneficial for patients as you are helping them to make the most of their dental insurance benefits.

If you have questions about this topic, please e-mail me vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.


Charlotte Skaggs, Certified Dentrix Trainer

Charlotte Skaggs is the founder of Vector Dental Consulting LLC, a practice management firm focused on taking offices to the next level. Charlotte co-owned and managed a successful dental practice with her husband for 17 years. She has a unique approach to consulting based on the perspective of a practice owner. Charlotte has been using Dentrix for almost 20 years and is a certified Dentrix trainer. Contact Charlotte at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Dentrix Tools for Accurate Insurance Estimates

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog about customizing coverage tables in Dentrix and how you can use them to more accurately estimate patient out-of-pocket expenses. Here are some additional tools in Dentrix you can use to provide your patients with the most accurate estimate of what their insurance is expected to pay.

Payment Table

The Payment Table in Dentrix allows you to enter a dollar amount that an insurance company will pay for a particular procedure code. This can be very beneficial in the case of an alternate benefit, like when an insurance company provides an alternate benefit for a posterior composite filling. 

When making changes to the Payment Table or the Coverage Table, it’s important to remember that changes made will affect all the patients covered under that insurance group plan. This can be a great tool because as you update the Payment Table for one patient, you can provide an even more accurate estimate for the next patient covered under that insurance plan that has the same procedure. 

You can enter amounts into the Payment Table in the dental insurance portion of the Family File, but I find the most efficient way to enter these amounts is when posting an insurance payment, by clicking Enter Payment, and then selecting the Itemize by Procedure option.



Whether you post an insurance payment through an individual claim or if you use the Batch Dental Insurance Payment feature, you have the option to update the Payment Table. 

The majority of the time, I recommend you update the payment table so Dentrix estimates insurance payments more accurately in the future for all patients with this dental insurance group plan. Here are the instances in which I would not recommend updating the payment table:
  • A procedure wasn't covered due to a patient's frequency limitations
  • A procedure wasn't covered due to the patient needing to meet their deductible
  • A procedure wasn't covered due to an age limitation
  • A procedure was partially covered (or not covered) due to a patient meeting their annual insurance maximum

Deductibles

Dentrix gives you an option to enter the amount a patient has used of their annual maximum, if they have met their deductible outside of your office. I find this to be a great tool, especially as we approach the end of the year when many patients may have used a significant portion of their annual maximum. If a patient has used some of their maximum at a specialty office, for example if you referred them to an endodontist for a root canal, it is important for Dentrix to calculate the amount of insurance used at the specialist’s office in the treatment plans you create in your office.

You can the features in Dentrix to accurately calculate insurance and patient portions of procedures. Using the Payment Table, entering maximums and deductibles used, and customizing Coverage Tables can help you to provide your patients with the most accurate estimates. This can result in maintaining healthier accounts receivables by allowing you to collect accurately from patients at the time of service. 

If you have questions on this topic or others, please e-mail me at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.


Charlotte Skaggs, Certified Dentrix Trainer

Charlotte Skaggs is the founder of Vector Dental Consulting LLC, a practice management firm focused on taking offices to the next level. Charlotte co-owned and managed a successful dental practice with her husband for 17 years. She has a unique approach to consulting based on the perspective of a practice owner. Charlotte has been using Dentrix for almost 20 years and is a certified Dentrix trainer. Contact Charlotte at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Additional Practice Analysis Reports - What Information Do They Provide?

In last week’s blog post I wrote about the Production Summary report, one of the Practice Analysis reports in the Dentrix Office Manager. This week, I would like to talk about the other Practice Analysis reports, and how they can be beneficial.


Payment Summary

You can use the Payment Summary report to analyze what type of payments are being made to your office based on the Payment Types you have set up in Dentrix. This could be beneficial information for your practice’s accountant at the end of the year. It can also help you to determine what percentage of payments are being made by patients and what percentage are being paid by insurance.

To generate the Payment Summary, open the Office Manager > Analysis > Practice > Reports.
Include all providers and all billing types. Select a date range (for example 01/01/2019-11/05/2019) and check the Payment Summary box. The report will give a total amount for each payment type, the  average payment amount, and the percentage of your total office collections each payment type represents.

Adjustment Summary

The Adjustment Summary report can provide you with valuable information regarding adjustments to payments. You can evaluate what type of adjustments have been made for a selected date range. The report will give a total amount for each adjustment type, the average adjustment amount, and the percentage that each adjustment type contributes to of the practice’s total adjustments. 

To generate the Adjustment Summary, open the Office Manager > Analysis > Practice > Reports.
Include all providers and all billing types. Select a date range and check the Adjustment Summary box. You could use this information to evaluate adjustment types. For example, is the office giving too many professional courtesy adjustments? Being able to see the quantity of each adjustment type, and the collections dollars they represent can help you to make important decisions for your practice.

Patient Summary

The Patient Summary report provides you with a snapshot of your patient population. There are other reports in Dentrix that can provide more detailed information, but the Patient Summary is a nice at-a-glance summary. It provides you with the total of active patients, how many are male, female, insured, etc. as well as some family information. It’s important to note that on this report an active patient is dictated by their status in the Family File and not based on their last visit date. 

To generate the Patient Summary, open the Office Manager > Analysis > Practice > Reports and check the Patient Summary box.

The Analysis Reports in the Practice Analysis can provide you with valuable information regarding your practice. I encourage you to become familiar with them, as they may help you to make important decisions for your practice. If you have questions, please contact me at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.


Charlotte Skaggs, Certified Dentrix Trainer

Charlotte Skaggs is the founder of Vector Dental Consulting LLC, a practice management firm focused on taking offices to the next level. Charlotte co-owned and managed a successful dental practice with her husband for 17 years. She has a unique approach to consulting based on the perspective of a practice owner. Charlotte has been using Dentrix for almost 20 years and is a certified Dentrix trainer. Contact Charlotte at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Practice Analysis - Production Summary: What Information Does it Give You?

At the end of each year, it’s beneficial to evaluate your practice to determine what went well during the year and what needs improvement. This can also be a good time to evaluate which procedures were completed throughout the year, and when estimating your practice’s 2020 budget, if new equipment or supplies should be purchased based on those completed procedures.

For example:
  • If you find your office is generating most of its production doing crown and bridge procedures, you may want to consider purchasing a Cerec machine or a digital scanner.
  • If your office is mainly providing periodontal services, you may want to invest in additional periodontal instruments. 
  • If your office is placing a lot of implants (or referring them to a specialist), you may want to consider purchasing cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT).
In my opinion the best report to generate for information about which procedures your practice has completed during the year, is in the Practice Analysis. You can find the Practice Analysis Reports in the Office Manager by clicking Analysis > Practice. When the Dentrix Practice Analysis screen opens, click  Reports.

You have options to filter your Practice Analysis Reports by Provider and by Billing Type. For generating a report to determine which procedures you have completed for the year, I would suggest leaving both options set to <ALL>.

Next, select a date range. Then, in the Select Summary Reports section, check Production Summary. This report can be generated by category (for example Diagnostic, Preventive, Restorative, Endodontics etc.) or by procedure code. You can choose all procedure codes or a procedure code range. 


The Production Summary Report will provide:
  • The number of procedures completed within the selected date range
  • The total production generated by these procedures
  • The average fee for the procedure
  • The percentage these procedures contributed to the office's total production

This report can provide you with valuable information to evaluate future purchases for equipment or special supplies. This is good time to review these reports in order to make decisions for the upcoming year. 

Please contact me if you have any questions at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.


Charlotte Skaggs, Certified Dentrix Trainer

Charlotte Skaggs is the founder of Vector Dental Consulting LLC, a practice management firm focused on taking offices to the next level. Charlotte co-owned and managed a successful dental practice with her husband for 17 years. She has a unique approach to consulting based on the perspective of a practice owner. Charlotte has been using Dentrix for almost 20 years and is a certified Dentrix trainer. Contact Charlotte at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Customizing Coverage Tables

In order to maintain a healthy collection rate and accounts receivables, it’s important to collect your patient’s out of pocket portion of their balance at the time of service. This means estimating accurate insurance payments is important in order to know exactly how much the patient should pay. Entering accurate coverage tables into the Dentrix Family File can help you to provide your patients with more accurate estimates.

When entering PPO insurance into a patient’s Family File, most offices use the default coverage table.  The Dentrix default coverage table breaks down ADA codes into sections and categories, such as Diagnostic/Preventive (ADA codes D0100-D1999), Basic Restorative (ADA codes D2000-D2999) Endodontics (ADA codes D3000-D3999) etc.

I recommend customizing your default coverage table in order to make your insurance and patient estimates more accurate. For example, although a full mouth series of X-rays (ADA code D0210) falls into the category of Diagnostic/Preventive (ADA codes D0100-D1999), that particular code is often covered by insurance as a basic service with a deductible applied.

Let’s walk through how to do that.

You can customize your default coverage table in the Office Manager > Maintenance > Reference > Dental Ins Coverage Tables. Click the Add button to create a new line within the coverage table. Leave the Beginning Procedure column set at D0100, but change the Ending Procedure to D0191. Leave the Category, Coverage %, Deductible, Co-pay and Pre-Auth columns as they are, and click Change.

Then click the Add button again, and add a new line with the Beginning Procedure and Ending Procedure both set to D0210. Change the Category to Basic Restorative and enter the Coverage %, Deductible, Co-pay and Pre-Auth information based on what the plan pays. Then click Change.

The last step, is to add the rest of the diagnostic/preventive procedures in a new line on the coverage table. Click the Add button, enter Beginning Procedure as D0220 and the Ending Procedure as D1999, and enter the other column information based on the plan, and click Change.



So what you’ll end up with, is your original grouping of diagnostic/preventive codes at their original coverage, except the one code (D0210) which has a different coverage.

You can modify any coverage table to separate codes out of their original categories, and set a different coverage for them, apply a different deductible, apply a copay or require a pre-authorization. You can customize the coverage table based on the trends you see in your office.

Here’s some ideas of ADA codes insurance companies may pay differently for than are pre-set in the default coverage table:

  • FMX (ADA code 0210)
  • PA (ADA code D0220)
  • Sealants (ADA code D1351)
  • SRP (ADA codes D4341 and D4342)
  • Crown build up (ADA code D2950)
  • Occlusal Guard (ADA code D9940)

One thing to double check when customizing the default coverage table, is to be sure that all procedures codes are included (no gaps) and that they are listed in sequence.

Providing patients with more accurate estimates while they’re in the office can result in healthy account receivables. It can also result in happier patients because they won’t be receiving an unexpected bill from your office.

If you have questions about this topic, e-mail me at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.


Charlotte Skaggs, Certified Dentrix Trainer

Charlotte Skaggs is the founder of Vector Dental Consulting LLC, a practice management firm focused on taking offices to the next level. Charlotte co-owned and managed a successful dental practice with her husband for 17 years. She has a unique approach to consulting based on the perspective of a practice owner. Charlotte has been using Dentrix for almost 20 years and is a certified Dentrix trainer. Contact Charlotte at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.