Tuesday, October 10, 2017

More tips for getting your claims paid faster

Last week, I attended the annual Dentrix Train the Trainer conference. At this conference, I get to be the student and learn about all the new features being release in the next year. Over the next few months, you will be reading about some of the amazing updates coming out with eServices, Dentrix Pay and your Dentrix software.

Today, I want to give you some things I learned about the current eClaims service and how you can increase the success of your claims getting paid faster.
  • Always batch your claims and send out in a group. What I learned at the conference is that if you send claims in real time or what might be called a “one off” claim, there is a greater chance of getting a duplicate claim.
    • You can turn off the option of sending claims in real time so it will stop asking you every time you create a claim on the ledger. Go to the Ledger > File > Direct Processing Options and uncheck the “Display Real Time Payor Notice”. The is very common with Metlife claims.
    • When you batch your claims, you will get one set of eClaims reports instead of a set of reports with every real time claim. This will save on the amount of reports that display on your Batch Processor. This is more of an annoyance than a tip for quicker payment.
  • If you are not sure of the Payor ID, the Payor Search tool on the Dentrix website is more up-to-date than the Payor ID list in the Insurance Info window. Remember that the Payor ID is the electronic address and, if you have the wrong Payor ID listed, it will slow down the payment of your claim. CLICK HERE to be directed to the Payor Search Tool on the Dentrix website.
  • You should NEVER have to resend a claim if you have a DC#. What is a DC#? It is the Document Control Number or the confirmation number that the insurance company has received your claim. With this number, you can always find your claim and hold the insurance company accountable to find it. For more info on this tip, CLICK HERE to read more about the reports and confirmation numbers.


If your office sends a lot of claims every day, I would recommend sending a batch of claims at lunch and then sending a batch of claims at the end of the day. This will break up the process and give you a smaller list of claims to go through each day. My recommendation is that claims get sent out within 24 hours of date of service.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Letter Merge vs. Quick Letters

In my last post, I talked about sending out a letter as a reminder to patients who have unused dental benefits and also have unscheduled treatment. After I wrote that blog, I started to think, “Does everyone know how to use the Dentrix Quick Letters and the Dentrix Letter Merge features?” Today, I would like to spell out the difference in the two features and also give you some instructions on how to customize your own letter.
  • Quick Letters works wonders when you want to send a customized letter to one patient. You can merge personalized patient information into the letter without having to manually type in the information. For example, you can merge patient name, address, remaining insurance benefits, patient balance, last payment date or last visit date.
  • The Letter Merge feature is amazing for sending out a bulk set of letters to a group of patients. This is a great way to target a list of patients who fit your specific parameters and you want to send them out a customized letter with the same content. For example, you could send a letter to patients with a specific medical alert, insurance company or who have had a particular procedure code set complete.

No matter which feature you use, the procedure of adding the letter into Dentrix is basically the same. The first thing to remember about adding a new letter into your system is that it must be saved in the Dentrix letter folder. You cannot just save it on your desktop or C: drive. How do you find your Dentrix letter folder? Go to the Office Manager > Maintenance > Practice Setup > Preferences > then click on the Paths tab. You will see the Letter Template Path and click on Open Folder. This will take you to where all your custom Dentrix letters reside. Now that you know where to save your letter, you are ready to create your own letter.

Now, if you have a letter already built, you could open it, add in the merge fields and then save it to your Dentrix letter folder or you could build a new letter from scratch, add the merge fields and save it in your Dentrix letter folder. In Dentrix G4 PP8 update, there was an add-in for Microsoft Word 2007 or higher to make it easier for you to add the merge fields into your letter. You will find this add-in under the Mailings tab in MS Word. The merge fields help take an ordinary letter and make it personal. After you have created your letter and saved it into the Dentrix letter folder, you are ready to add it to your Quick Letters or the Letter Merge.
  • For Quick Letters, open up the feature and click on New, select Browse and it will take you to the Dentrix Letter folder. Find your letter, highlight it and click on Open. Now just give your letter a name and you are good to go. It will show up in the list alphabetically by title. If you need to edit your template, click on Edit Template. When you are ready to mail your letter, click on Build View. NOTE: When you build a letter, make sure you do not click on Save because it will write over the top of your merge fields. My recommendation would be to print one copy of the letter to send to your patient and print one to the Dentrix Document Center to save a perfect copy.
  • To add your new customized letter into the Dentrix Letter Merge feature, go to the Office Manager > Letters & Custom Lists, select a category and click on New and it will open the Letter Merge window. Click on Browse in the upper right corner to find your letter, highlight it then click on Open. You can have your custom letter in both the Letter Merge and the Quick Letters. Now give your letter a name in the upper left corner and you are good to go. When you are ready to create a list of patients to send this letter to, you will come back here to the Letter Merge and select Edit instead of New. Then select your parameters for the patient list, click OK and then Create Letters.

I realize letters might seem old school, but in some cases, they can make an enormous impact. People these days don’t expect to receive a letter in the mail so, when they do, they open it because it might be important. It is so easy these days to ignore or delete emails but it is harder to ignore a letter sitting on the kitchen counter. It will get opened and read.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Putting a little pressure on your patients to schedule unscheduled treatment

My tip for September is to start adding some pressure to patients who have unscheduled treatment
and have remaining insurance benefits. Hopefully throughout the year, you are managing your Treatment Manager Report on a weekly basis so you are continually planting those seeds with patients about being proactive about their dental needs. However, there are always those patients who wait until the last minute to take action and might need a little more incentive.

One thing I have been hearing more and more is the dental practice doing a fee update regularly in January. I am happy to hear about doctors keeping their fees up to date and not waiting three to four years to update their fees. If you do a fee update each year, this is a good time to poke your patients with a stick who might be procrastinating to schedule their dental treatment. If you are sending out a campaign, either by mail or email, you could let your patients know that their treatment plan fees are good until January 1st and, at that time, you will be updating fees.

So we have two things happening in this article that I want to explain so you can implement it in your practice. First, filtering your list to find patients who have unscheduled treatment and still have remaining insurance benefits. Second, preparing your treatment plans so, when you do a fee increase, you can update your existing treatment plans to reflect the new office fees.

One of my favorite reports for managing unscheduled treatment is the Treatment Manager. You can filter this report by date, provider, patients and also whether they have remaining dental benefits. Usually during the year, I would not recommend filtering this report because I never advocate allowing dental insurance benefits to dictate your treatment decisions. However, when the national statistic states that only 5-8% of dental benefits are being used, we need to put some pressure on patients to maximize their benefits.

From the Appointment Book, open the Treatment Manager and select the parameters you want to select so you get a list of patients that fit your selections. Now you can call, send a letter or save this list in an Excel document if you want to export it out to your email system. My recommendation would be to let your patient know that he or she has dental benefits remaining to use up and, on January 1st, the treatment plan fees will be going up due to a regularly scheduled update.

In the treatment planner, you can assign an expiration date to your patient’s treatment plan so, when you do a fee update, you can include or exclude expiration dates so you can honor fees for some patients. From the treatment plan panel in the patient chart or the treatment plan module, click on the Supporting Information tab. Here you will find the settings for the expiration date where you can select one of the default settings or manually set the date to whatever you want it to be. Then, in January when you do a fee increase, you will have more control over whose treatment plan fees are updated and whose fees will remain the old fees.


At the end of December, I will write a more detailed article on how to update your fees and give screen shots to help you with this process. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Two tips for faster claims payment and benefit checks

Last week, I attended the AADOM (American Association of Dental Office Management) annual conference and I have learned about many new products and services that integrate with your Dentrix software. I will be writing about some of these in my upcoming posts and newsletter. On Saturday, I attended an insurance panel where my friend and fellow consultant, Teresa Duncan, was the moderator between the insurance industry and an audience of office managers.

On the panel of insurance industry representatives was a rep from GEHA, Dentegra, NEA and Unlock the PPO. One of the questions that Teresa posed to the panel was, “What can the office do, or stop doing, to help them be more successful in the claims processing arena?” 

Here was their recommendations . . .
  • Automation – There are many software solutions that you can use to help the office automate the process of collecting insurance benefit information and send the most complete dental claim possible. The dental team spends hours on the phone calling insurance companies to look up dental benefits when there are services that offer this type of information on an automated basis. Also, there are many dental claims that come into the processing center that are either incomplete or missing important diagnostic information.
    • My recommendation is to use the Dentrix eCentral Insurance Manager system for checking on benefits for your patients. It checks benefits automatically for patients on the schedule so you can have up-to-date information before the patient comes in or you can call the patient if the status has changed since the last time he or she was in. I realize that not every insurance company has chosen to participate in the eCentral program, but if you can get 80% from this automated system, it will still save you a ton of time.
    • When you use the Dentrix eClaims system, it will alert you of procedures that require some kind of documentation so you can make sure to attach an X-ray or perio chart of the image before the claim is sent.
  • STOP SENDING PAPER – I was surprised at this because I thought everyone was sending electronic claims at this point but the panelists said this is one of the top things on their list. It does not help your claim if you send your claim with items highlighted with a bright pink highlighter. You should know that every claim that comes into the processing center is scanned as soon as it comes in from the mail room. If you have bright pink (or any color highlighter), it will scan in black and your claim will get kicked out. Your best chance at getting your claim paid in the fastest way possible is to send it electronically.


I have talked about both of these things before and it was good to get validation from people working at the dental insurance companies and working in the dental insurance industry that the best option for dental insurance benefits and claims processing is via an electronic method. For more information on these topics, click below to be directed to other articles.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

It's that time of year again . . . being prepared for storm season

Last year at this time, I wrote a blog about Hurricane Matthew as I sat in my hotel room in Jacksonville, Florida. What we are experiencing now with Hurricane Harvey and Irma helps me realize that this blog article will need to be an annual post this time of year. 

I want to send my thoughts and prayers out to my friends and followers in the Texas and Florida areas.  

As we watch the news, people are reminded of how to be prepared to save their lives, their pets and the evacuation process. If you are a small business owner, you also need to prepare on how to save your business or at least have minimal damage. The dental practice is a small business and the most important piece of your business to try and save is your patient data. It is up to you to protect your patient data, even in the eye of a hurricane.  

Since what I wrote last year is still relevant, here are the important paragraphs from my post from October 3, 2016. If you would like to be re-directed and read it in it's entirety, CLICK HERE

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. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Do I break the appointment or just deleted it?

The single biggest pain point in the dental practice is holes in the schedule. WhenWhat is the difference between breaking an appointment and deleting an appointment?” Just the other day I encountered an office that was leaving the missed appointments on the appointment book so they could track them. What happens in these situations is that the office has not had any formal training or been given any resources on the best practices for managing the appointment book so they just make up their own system for tracking missed appointments.
I write about keeping the schedule full, it is always a big clicker. One question I receive a lot is, “

Keeping your schedule full is a management system that needs to have a protocol in place so that the entire team knows what to do when a patient misses an appointment and what steps to take to fill that opening. Today, I would like to give you all some best practice tips on what to do with the appointment if the patient does not keep the scheduled appointment.

  • Move the appointment to the Unscheduled List if the patient does not reschedule and you want to follow up with the patient. If you do not want to lose the appointment details, then you can store the visit on the Unscheduled List for a short period of time so you can make a couple of follow-up calls. There are two ways to get an appointment onto the Unscheduled List
    • Wait/Will Call the appointment – Use this if the patient did not show and gave you adequate time to fill the open time. Some offices have a 24- to 48-hour no-show policy so, if the patient cancels outside of that policy, then I would use the wait/will call feature.
    • Break the appointment if the patient is a no-show or cancels inside of your cancellation policy. When you break the appointment, it will put a note on the Office Journal and track the missed appointment on the Family File for future reference.
  • Delete the appointment if you do not need to follow up with the patient and just want to remove the appointment off your appointment book. When you delete an appointment, it will only show up on the Audit Trail and this task can also be password-protected.


For more information on this topic and read other articles, click the links below . . . 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

What's the best way to block out my Appointment Book?

“I need to make sure my team knows where to schedule appointments because I feel like there is no organization with the schedule,” said a doctor during one of our recent training sessions. “What is the best way to block out our schedule so my team know where to put the correct type of appointment so we can be more productive and less stressed out?”

These were the exact words from a doctor who was trying to create a system for scheduling and didn’t know where to begin with setting some standards for his team. We talked about the different methods for blocking out the schedule inside of the Dentrix software so that he could make the best decision for his practice.
I have seen offices use both the Perfect Day Scheduling feature and the Events feature for mapping their schedule. Today, I wanted to give you some pros and cons for using these tools to help you make the best decision for your appointment book.
  • Perfect Day Scheduling is designed to map out the schedule and give you a guideline for your team so they can easily see what type of appointment goes in that place. The great thing about this feature is that you can place multiple blocks throughout the day and, once you set it up, it will be set up every day until you change the setup. You can set up different colors to symbolize different appointment types. One complaint I get from doctors is that you can easily schedule over the top of the Perfect Day Scheduling blocks. In my opinion, this is more about the discipline of the team member scheduling to the system than the system itself. If you want to read up more about Perfect Day Scheduling, CLICK HERE.
  • Using Events to map out your schedule can be done and it will fix the issue of not being able to schedule over the top of the block. With an event, the team member would have to delete the event in order to schedule an appointment. Events can be created to span over multiple days and you can set them in your appointment book for up to a year time frame. Just right click on the appointment book and click on Create Event. You can also set the Events in different colors to symbolize different types of appointments. 

Our goal here in The Dentrix Office Manager blog is to not only give you great tips and tricks, but also give you resources to make the best decisions for your practice.