Saturday, April 22, 2017

Three options for treatment consents . . . PROS and CONS for each method

Any time you are trying to choose between option 1, option 2 and option 3, there are always pros and cons to think about. Your patients rely on you to provide the details between a bridge, implant and partial denture because they don’t always know what questions to ask. The same goes for trying to choose between option 1, option 2 and option 3 in your Dentrix software when deciding on how you are going to deal with consent forms for these treatment options. Yes, there are three different options for how you could deal with patient consent forms and I am going to give you some pros and cons for using each method.


Option 1 – Scan and shred using your existing paper consent forms
  • PROS – Your logo can be on the form so, when your patient takes it home, the branding for your office follows the patient home. The form can be as long as you want it to be. There is no character limit. Most likely the form is in a Word Document so you can edit it anytime you want. The forms would be nicely organized in the Document Center because your team would select the correct folder when they scan it.
  • CONS – This method uses paper. If you are trying to be paperless, this defeats the purpose. Your team will have to scan the form, which takes time. A scanned document becomes an image and uses more space on your server drive than an electronic form. The form does not automatically get locked up into history unless you sign it again in the Document Center.
Option 2 – Use the consent forms in the treatment plan module/panel
  • PROS – The consent forms are linked directly to the treatment plan case. The signature is captured electronically, creating an electronic form instead of a paper form. The details are automatically sent to the Document Center and put into their own folder.
  • CONS – It’s not very pretty. You do not have the formatting and branding options with these consent forms so you will have to compromise on style. There is a character limit so you will need to get creative if your consent forms are wordy. The form does not automatically get locked into history unless you sign the form in the Document Center.

Option 3 – Use the Questionnaire Module for consent forms.
  • PROS – This method is truly an electronic form because it is not saved as an image and uses electronic signatures. The formatting is much more customizable and looks like a nice form. You can capture up to three signatures if you need to and, when signed, the form is automatically locked into history. The forms are easy to use and nicely organized in the Questionnaire Module. You could upload these forms to your website or iPad for patients to fill out.
  • CONS – You still cannot put your logo on the questionnaire. The form is date stamped but not directly attached to the treatment plan.


Whichever option you choose in your practice, it is important to have that informed consent from the patient. The consent forms should be in a place that is easy for your team to use, edit and manage. It’s a personal choice. Hopefully this information will help you make the best choice for your office. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Take the anxiety and frustration out of scheduling

In a busy office, finding appointment time can be time-consuming and frustrating. Most scheduling coordinators I work with have created a system of using the day or week view, looking for open time. As you flip the red arrow moving forward and then forward again, the anxiety level starts to go up as your patient sits on the phone with you while you look for the first open time slot.

But what if you could narrow down your search and have the computer generate a list of the open time for you based on certain criteria instead of the endless clicking through the appointment book? Using the Dentrix search tool, you can customize your search for the patient you have on the phone and the conversation with your patient would be directed at exactly what they are looking for.

Here is how I would envision a conversation with a patient calling in to schedule an appointment with their favorite dental hygienist . . . .

Patient: Hi Dayna, this is Linda Jacobsen. I just received your email that I am due for my checkup.
Dayna: Great! Thank you for calling. Let’s find a time for you. Do you still want to schedule with Jenny? (I know she likes Jenny because I have noted it as her PROV2 in the Family File)
Linda: Yes, Jenny is the only person I want to see.
Dayna: Jenny works on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Which day works best for you?
Linda: A Wednesday afternoon would work best.
Dayna: Great, let me plug in that information and see what I can come up with for you.


Now I would open up my Scheduling search tool and see the list of dates and times that will work with Linda’s window. Select the parameters in the search tool that match your patient’s requests and click on Search/View. This will give you a list of available openings in your schedule and you can now go through the list with Linda and see which date she wants.



You have not only made it more personal for your patient but you have also eliminated the day to day or week to week endless search. 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Five tips for improving your cash flow

How’s the cash flow in your practice? It could be better? Collections and cash flow is a multi-faceted
system and it requires the involvement of the entire team. Here are my top five tips to help you increase your cash flow and lower your accounts receivable.
  1. No one gets on your schedule without a financial arrangement. Your patients need to know what to budget for before they walk in for their appointment. I realize there are many consulting firms that advocate not to talk to patients about money. However, I feel you are putting your practice and your relationship with your patient at risk if you don’t. You must have the money conversation and allow your patients to make an educated decision on how they will pay for it. 
  2. Your entire team needs to know what that financial arrangement is. I have seen the clinical team dismiss a patient thinking they were free to go when only to find out that the patient had a co-pay for today’s visit. Then the front office is all in a tizzy because they did not collect from the patient. There are many ways you can communicate with your team about the patient’s co-pay for today’s visit. You can put it in the note box of the appointment, write it on the route slip or discuss it in the morning huddle. However you decide to relay the information, it must be done because the entire team is responsible for the collections in the practice.
  3. Anyone in the practice should be able to collect money. If your front office is shorthanded for the day or maybe the financial coordinator is on the phone with another patient, anyone on the team should have the skills to collect money. Create a protocol sheet for how to collect cash, credit cards and outside financing payments (i.e. Care Credit). If a patient owes money today, he or she should not walk out the door. It is costing you a ton of money.
  4. Send billing statements two or three times a week. This changed my life when I was working in a practice and it will yours too. I devoted an entire article to this topic and you can read all the details by CLICKING HERE.
  5. Use the Collection Manager to track your accounts receivable. In the past when I was doing Insight Seminars for Henry Schein and I would get to the section on the Collection Manager Report, I would ask the audience who was using it to manage their accounts receivable. Maybe a third of the hands would go up. I am still amazed at how many people do not use this report and are still using the Aging Report for accounts receivable management. You can read an entire article on this report by CLICKING HERE.


If you take these five tips to heart and put them into your regular routine, you will see an increase in your cash flow and a reduction in your stress level. It’s all about the systems and how you manage them because you don’t have a money tree growing in your backyard.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

No need to purchase a new scanner, your current one should work just fine

Are you interested in starting the process of going paperless but you have an older scanner that might not work with Dentrix? Or maybe you have a scanner that used to work with Dentrix but, since you have upgraded, some of the features have stopped working? Well, I have a solution for you.
The new File Acquisition Method Default will allow you to scan directly to your scanner without the interference of Dentrix and then automatically pull your document into Dentrix. There are so many different kinds of scanners out there now and we all know it can be challenging to make all this technology work seamlessly.

Here is how it works . . .

Open your Document Center and click on the Setup tab at the top. Now scroll to the bottom and go to Setup Acquisition Method Default. In the top drop down menu, select Auto File Acquisition, then select a default folder (don’t worry, you will have the opportunity to change it), then select a folder to pull the document from (I set up a Scans folder on the Desktop).

Now in your start menu in Windows, find your scanner program. What I did is click on Start > All Programs > Epson > and create a shortcut on your desktop, then pin it to your task bar. Or you can go to your Printers and Devices, find your scanner and drag it to your taskbar to create a quick button on your computer.

Now that you have both of those two things finished, open a patient’s Document Center. Click on the icon you pinned to your task bar for your scanner and make sure your scanner setup is set to save the document to the same folder you created on your desktop. Then scan a document and see what happens. Hopefully what will happen is that the Dentrix Auto File Acquisition will automatically pull the document into the patient’s Document Center. Now you can give the document a description and put it in a different folder if you want.


This took me a little bit to wrap my head around it in the beginning. However, once I got it set up and working, I loved it. The support department was great at answering my questions and, from them helping me, I was able to put this article together for you all. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

3 Ways for Effective Intra-Office Communications

Every office is unique. You might be a specialty practice, a group practice or a solo practitioner. You
may have a team of 5 or a team or 25, but you all have one thing in common … Post-it notes and messages everywhere. Almost every front office I walk into has colored Post-it notes all over the desk and almost every doctor has piles of charts on his or her desk. I hope you all have stock in the 3M company for all the colored sticky notes you use. Let’s figure out a way to clean this all up.

Let’s look three effective options for improving your Intra-Office Communications. This relates to how you all communicate with each other inside of your practice. Since you all live in your practice management software all day, I want you to create an Intra-Office Communication system within your Dentrix software because this will help you be as efficient and productive as possible.

  1. My favorite option is to use the Office Journal for communicating with your team. Did you know that not only every patient has an Office Journal but every team member as well? You can create your own TO-DO list or put a task on someone else’s TO-DO list. What if your doctor needs to write you a narrative or phone in a new RX for a patient? What if you need to remember to call a patient back in April or send in your doctor’s license renewal by June 1st. Putting a Reminder on the Office Journal will solve all of this.
    1. If it is regarding a patient, open the patient’s Office Journal and add a new entry. Add it as a Reminder, give it a due date, put in the provider ID that you are assigning this message to, enter a description and a note. Click OK. Now this message will show up on the patient’s Office Journal and the team member you assigned to.
    2. Now, if it is a message you just want to send to one of your team members, go to the Office Manager and open the Office Journal. Now it will ask you for a provider ID and you can select the team member you want to send a message to. Put it as a Reminder, enter a date, description and your message. Click OK.
    3. The Office Journal can be set up to open automatically when you log in your workstation in the morning. Go to the Office Manager > Maintenance> Practice Setup > Preferences > and then check mark Automatically Launch Office Journal. I would recommend filtering your Office Journal so it will load faster. To do this, click on View at the top of the Office Journal and click on Filters, then select Reminders and give it a beginning balance date and click on Save as Default.
  2. You can use the Appointment Note as a TO-DO list for the entire office. This note is located in the upper left corner of the Appointment Book and it is just a blank piece of paper you can make notes on. Think of it as a big sticky note.
  3. The third option for Intra-Office Communications is to use the Dentrix integrated IM system, Dentalink. You can set up Dentalink and send messages back and forth from workstations to alert team members of things happening. If the hygienist is running behind, he or she can send an IM up to the front alerting them. Or maybe the front office wants to send a message to the doctor’s office workstation. These IM messages show up as a “bubble” in the lower right of the workstation and are good for today only.  


Save on Post-it notes, clean up your desk and communicate better with your team with these three options for Intra-Office Communications. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Easy instructions for tax time printouts

Don’t you just love this time of year . . . tax season!  Patients are calling in asking for a printout of
their account to send along with their taxes and receipts to prove they spent money using their HSA account.  Along with everything else you do every day you need to find time to figure out how to satisfy government records.

I want to try and make it easy for you.  Instead of printing an account ledger, which can be extremely confusing to patients, I am going to show you two alternative options. You can also use the second option for patients who are looking for statements to report to their HSA accounts.

The first option is if the patient does not need the year-end statement to have ADA codes. Open the Ledger > File > Search Payments. This will open a new window where you will select the parameters for your search (date range, guarantor name, payment types, etc.), then select Print.

The second option is if you need a payment history that includes ADA codes (most HSA plans want the ADA codes included). First, go to the Office Manager > Maintenance > Practice Setup > Preferences and make sure the “use ADA codes in description” is checked. Next, from the Office Manager > Reports > Billing, we are going to create a customized billing statement as a year-end print out.
  • Change the Beginning Balance Forward date to the beginning of the year reported and the Statement Date to the end of the report year
  • Select the Guarantor family
  • Set the Minimum Balance to Bill to 0
  • Uncheck all options
  • Clear out the Statement Message
  • Uncheck Save as Default




Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Time is one of our most precious assets

The dental office is busy, patients are running late and you frequently get sidetracked by the phones and tasks. In the midst of the chaos, the hygienist walks up front and asks where her next patient is. You look at the appointment book only to realize it is 15 minutes past the patient’s scheduled appointment time. Where did the time go?

Time is one of our most precious assets and it is something we can all do a better job at managing. So what if you had a tool that could help you manage your time better? What if you had a tool that could help the entire team manage their time better? Exclusively for Dentrix users, that tool is now available.

During this week’s Chicago Midwinter meeting, Dentrix launched the exclusive distribution of Simplifeye. I was in Chicago for the meeting, and I had the opportunity to see it firsthand and talk with the founders, Zach and Ryan Hungate.


This new software technology will streamline the doctor’s daily workflow, instantly notify the clinical team when their patient has arrived and give you more time in your day. The Simplifeye dashboard will also give your front office team the visual notifications when patients are late, the clinical team is running late and when the patient is ready to be checked out.

  • The dashboard will keep a running clock from the time the patient walks in the door to the time he or she walks out. This will give your team data on how often you are running late with patients. 
  • When the patient is assigned to the doctor for treatment the timer can give you precise statistics so you will know exactly how long certain procedures take and you can adjust in your default time units, which could increase your production per hour.
  • With the iWatch integration, the doctor will receive information about the patients currently waiting. The iWatch will send info such as medical alerts, today’s visit and last visit. 
The Simplifeye dashboard will be available as part of your Dentrix customer service plan and the iWatch integration is available for a small monthly fee.  For more information, CLICK HERE and start saving time.