Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Insurance Co-Pay plan setup

I had a question the other day from an office who had a patient with a new type of insurance plan that she did not know how to setup in Dentrix. Over the last year or so, I have been seeing a lot of new and interesting dental plans popping up around the country. The plans I am seeing the most are patient co-pay plans so I wanted to take a moment to help you with the setup. 

Most of us are used to the traditional plans that pay 100% on Preventative, 80% Basic and 50% for major dental treatment. These traditional plans are being replaced with unconventional, harder to manage dental plans. With a co-pay plan, the patient will pay a fixed dollar amount toward certain procedures and then the insurance plan will pick up the difference. Once you get it set up, the computer will take over and calculate the patient’s out of pocket on the ledger and treatment plan estimates. 

From the Insurance window on the patient family file, click on Insurance Data and enter in all the insurance demographic information and attach the correct fee schedule if it applies. If you want more info on using fee schedules, CLICK HERE. Then click into the Coverage Table section and this is where most of the setup will happen. 



First, select a different coverage table so it will show all the procedures instead of the categories. Next, highlight the procedure code where there is a co-pay applied, enter the amount in the co-pay box and click on Add. Do this for every procedure where there is a patient co-pay and also make sure that the coverage percentage is 100% (it will default to 100% but it doesn’t hurt to double check). The final step is to select the co-pay calculation method. In my example, I have selected the (total fee – co-pay) x cov% because this is the most common.

Now, if this co-pay plan has procedures that are not covered, you can either change the coverage % for that procedure code to 0% or enter the procedure in the Payment Table. Remember that the Payment Table overrides the Coverage Table so it would also be good to check to make sure the Payment Table doesn’t have anything in it that might throw off your estimates.


I hope this helps. Let me know if I can assist with any other odd insurance plan setup. I am happy to help.

Monday, November 21, 2016

What are you thankful for and how do you show it?

What are you thankful for? As I spend time with dental practices this time of
year, I love listening to how they spend their holidays … not only with each other as a team but how they give thanks to their patients. Many dental offices have elaborate parties to celebrate the end of the year and some go out into their community and volunteer their time in a shelter helping those who need it more.

One of the topics I spend quality time discussing with my teams is Patient Retention numbers and how everything they do not only inside the walls of their practice but out in the community affect Patient Retention. Everything you do is marketing your practice, whether it is walking patients up to the front desk with a very choreographed handoff to the front desk or calling in the evening to make sure they are feeling well after a tough procedure that day.

I would like to hear from you. I would love to hear not only how you give thanks this holiday season, but also about those special things you do for your patients and team members to make them feel special. Make your comments on this post and share your stories.

I will start . . .

In my practice we would always celebrate our team member’s anniversary of when they started work at the office. Since I was the “techie” in the office, I would change that team member’s screensaver to be a message about how much I appreciated everything he or she did in the office.”

Our office always gave out flowers on Mother’s Day”


I understand if you don’t want to give out your marketing secrets but let’s have some fun and enjoy reading something other than a Dentrix How-To.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Your Personal To-Do list

Did you know that not only does every patient have an office journal but every team member has an office journal? You might be wondering why that is relevant. Let’s take a little test. Can you answer YES to any of these questions?

  • Does your doctor’s desk have sticky notes all over it?
  • Does your desk have sticky notes all over it?
  • Are you looking for a better way to communicate with your team?
  • Do you work best off a list to To-Do’s?


If you answered yes to any of these, then I have a solution for you. Not only can you use the Office Journal for documenting administrative conversations with patients and keeping track of all your notes with patients, but you can also use it as your own personal To-Do list. And your entire team can have their own To-Do list in the Office Journal. You can send a note to one of your team members and it will show up on their Office Journal. Let’s run through a few examples.

Let’s say you are talking to a patient about scheduling his or her treatment and the patient says, “Can you call me after the New Year?” You can enter a Reminder Office Journal entry with a future date and it will show up on the patient’s Office Journal and your Office Journal.

You are trying to send claims for the day but you are missing the narrative for the crown on your first patient of the morning. You need to have the doctor review the X-ray and document it for the claim. That means that, instead of putting a “sticky note” on his desk, you can send him a note on his Office Journal.

A letter came in the mail today from your implant specialist that the implant is ready to restore for one of your patients. You need to let your dental assistant know to order parts and let your doctor know to treatment plan the next visit. You can send an Office Journal note on both of their journals with the specifics to the case and let them know they will find the letter from the specialist in the Document Center.


These examples happen in the dental office every day. How do you communicate with your team? How would life be if you could keep your communication inside of your practice management software? Try it and see.

Read other articles about how awesome the Office Journal is . . . 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Mining for Gold - the 3 reports for searching unscheduled treatment

When I worked in a dental practice, we still had paper charts until 2009 when I helped my practice transition to a paperless environment. This means that we had a ton of treatment sitting in these paper charts that we had to search for manually in order to find patients who were unscheduled. It was an extremely time-consuming process but it is what we had to do in order to keep our doctor’s schedule full.

When you are working in a chartless environment and all your treatment plans are sitting in the computer, you still must follow up with patients who are not scheduled … but the process is much more streamlined. What I love about computer data is that it is all trackable and you can filter it onto a report. I call it “Mining for Gold.”


In Dentrix, there are actually three reports for you to use to track down unscheduled treatment to follow up with patients. I do have a favorite but I will let you decide for yourself what works best in your practice.
  1. The Unscheduled Treatment Plan Report has been in Dentrix forever and it is what I used back in the olden days. This report gives you information on unscheduled treatment but you have to print it in order to work it and it can be very lengthy. Also, we have to remember that every time we print a report, things will change quickly and then your report is obsolete. To find this report, go to the Office Manager > Reports > Lists > Unscheduled Treatment Plans.
  2. The Practice Treatment Case Report is also a printed report but you can filter it by very specific data points that you cannot find in other reports. What I like about this report is that you can search for treatment that has been Accepted, Rejected or Proposed if you are marking your cases with this status. This is good information for your doctor to see. In this report, you can also search by the case severity if you are using the stop light feature (for more information on this, CLICK HERE). This report can only be found on the Patient Chart and Treatment Planner modules. Click on the printer icon as if you were printing a treatment plan estimate, but instead click on Practice Treatment Case Report. Then select the parameters you want and click OK.
  3. The Treatment Manager Report This is by far my favorite report in Dentrix. It offers you a way to search for patients with unscheduled treatment and create your own interactive spreadsheet where you can resort the columns to organize the report any way you want. You also do not have to print this report because everything you need to follow up with the patient is at your fingertips. For more details about using this report, refer to the blog I wrote called “Holes in your Doctor’s Schedule?” and learn more.


Mining for Gold” is my motto when it comes to looking for patients with unscheduled treatment. You need to be proactive when it comes to following up with patients. You cannot expect them to pick up the phone and call you. Keeping your schedule full is something that requires a little bit of work from you. I hope these report options help make the task a little more efficient.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Tracking the ROI on your marketing campaigns in three easy steps

You spend a lot of money on marketing, direct mailers and advertising. I am
shocked sometimes when I see how much these advertising campaigns cost the practice. How do you know if they are working? Do you know the ROI on your investment? I can help you see the statistics you need to know to help make decisions on your referral programs and new patient acquisition.
First things first . . . your team must be recording where your new patients are being referred from. If you are starting a new patient referral program or just signed up with a marketing company that is launching some direct mail campaigns, I want you to add these into your referral sources. Go to the Office Manager > Reference > Referral Maintenance. Then click on add new and enter the name of the campaign. Make sure to check Non Person and then, at the bottom, click on Referred By. The reason you want to select Non Person is because these campaigns will be tracked as Referred by Marketing on the Practice Advisor Report.

Second, make sure your team is checking the new patients against the referring sources on a daily basis. The easiest way to do this is using the Daily Huddle Report. Look at the Daily Huddle each day and make sure the total number of new patients is accurate and make sure the total number of new patients matches the total number of referral sources. This makes sure that every new patient is tracked with how he or she found you.

Now the juicy stuff . . . you can run a report that will show you the total number of patients by each referral source, see how much their treatment plan is worth and how much production has been completed. This is invaluable because you can not only see how many patients this campaign is bringing you, but also how much revenue. AMAZING!

Go to the Office Manager > Reports > Management > Referred By Report. Next, select the referral dates, production dates and select the referring source you want to analyze. Then at the bottom make sure to check Show Production Detail.


This will be great information when you are looking to renew a campaign or just great feedback to your marketing company

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Personal goals = personal growth = practice success

Did one of my recent articles get you thinking about planning for the end of the year? I talked about how you can make adjustments in your appointment book to make room for those last-minute new patients who are trying to get in before the end of the year so you can make your new patient goal number. I also discussed how you can forecast your appointment book production numbers to see if you are coming up short for your production goals. If you would like to re-read this article, CLICK HERE to be redirected.

These practice goals are not only important, but they are critical to the health of the office overhead and the stress level of the team. But what about you? What are your personal goals? When I was working in a practice, I got my hands on as much CE as I could handle. Do you know what goal I think you could set and accomplish by the end of the year? You could become a Dentrix Master and receive a certificate to prove it. This could be your personal end of the year goal.

Clinical CE is great and, for some of you in the dental practice, it is a requirement in order for you to maintain your license. Your entire day revolves around your practice management software and most offices have zero training or continuing education for the software you use every day. You all must maintain a certain level of knowledge of Dentrix in order to function on a daily basis. I am asking you to up your game and not just function, but excel. Become a Dentrix Master.

It’s easy to start and extremely rewarding to finish. The Dentrix Mastery Tracks were launched to help you learn more about your software, things you might not know exist and things you want to learn more about. This is your chance to set a personal goal and help your office at the same time.  I believe in you.


Your first test is free! 

To get started CLICK HERE and Create New User. Then enter code FreeTestDOM




Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Bracing for Hurricane Matthew or any natural disaster

As I write this blog for you all today, I am sitting in a hotel in Jacksonville, Fla., because I am working with an amazing periodontal office with their systems, health history updates and overall practice efficiency. Last night, I spoke to their study club members on some practical measures when it comes to protecting their patient records. It is ironic that, as I write this, we are on the verge of Hurricane Matthew hitting the east coast of Florida … so this post becomes so much more important.

It is up to the practice to make sure that their patients’ Protected Health Information (PHI) is kept confidential, the integrity of the record is sound and your patients’ records are accessible. So as I watch the Weather Channel from my hotel room tonight, I wanted to put together some tips you can follow to help you protect your patient’s information.

Notice what I said “some tips you can follow to help you protect your patient’s information.” It is not the job of your software, your hardware or your office design to ensure the protection of your patient’s data. It is up to you to put systems in place.

Since Florida is on the verge of a Category 4 hurricane, I want to point out a few things that could potentially affect the confidentiality, integrity and accessibility of your patient’s protected health information.
  • Power outages are going to be a huge issue with this upcoming storm. If you are going to close the office and want to have access to some of your patients’ information for returning calls, phoning in medications or following up with your patients after some surgeries, I would recommend you using Dentrix Mobile. When you use Dentrix Mobile, you have the opportunity to remote in using a mobile device and having access to some of your patients’ critical information.
  • Make sure an authorized team member has access to the backup of all the patient data in case of flooding or destruction of the practice. The backup of the data might be on an external hard drive or in an online secure backup system. Dentrix has the option of using eBackup to store your patients’ information securely and safely. This would give your practice a good option to access patient data in case of an emergency.
  • Make sure you have your Business Associate Agreements in place with your outside contractors. What if you are working with a consultant, accountant, attorney or computer company who has access to your patients’ information and they are the ones who are affected by the storm which jeopardizes the confidentiality of your patients’ information?



You can never do too much to prepare for a disaster and you have an obligation to protect your patients’ health information. It is not something you want to take lightly. Seeing this storm and looking back on storms in the past makes me realize we should be prepared for anything.