Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Maximizing a Provider's Time in the Schedule

It can be difficult for a new front office team member to learn the ins and outs of scheduling. It can be even more challenging if they have limited dental experience. To effectively schedule patient appointments, it’s important to understand where the doctor and assistant are during an operative procedure.

Scheduling is such an important task in the dental office. I’ve seen offices that are very busy but unproductive. The goal is to maximize the doctor’s time and be as productive as possible.

In Dentrix you can schedule provider time and assistant time. This can help a new front office team member to understand where a doctor can be double-booked to maximize their schedule and where they can’t. Using this system can also help a new doctor to know where they need to be and when to effectively manage their time.

You can adjust provider, assistant, and chair time within a patient’s appointment.
When scheduling a new appointment select the search button (>) next to Appt Length in the Appointment Information window.



The Appointment Pattern Time window will appear.  Select the time units, then whether those time units should be designated as Provider, Assistant or Chair Time.



In this example, the fist 10 minutes of the appointment is designated as assistant time for the assistant to seat the patient and place topical anesthetic. The next 10 mins is designated as provider time for the doctor to anesthetize. The next 10 minutes is assistant time while the patient gets numb, and the final two 10 minute time frames are provider time for the doctor to perform the procedure.

Scheduling using dedicated time units allows the doctor to be most productive because instead of waiting for the assistant to finish their part of the procedure they can be working in another operatory. For example, doctor could anesthetize a patient in one operatory and while waiting for that patient to get numb, they can work on another patient. I’ve seen this work well in offices, especially during procedures that require a lot of assistant time, such as a crown prep. While the assistant is making the temporary, the doctor can work on another patient in another operatory to be most productive. Time is money as they say, so it’s important for dental offices to be as productive as possible.

Time units dedicated to a provider (X) can’t be booked in more than two appointments at a time. This eliminates the doctor being booked in more than two operatories at once.

Not only can you can adjust appointment time patterns within an individual appointment, but you can also set them for specific procedure codes, so they will be pre-set when you are scheduling an appointment for that procedure code in the future.

Let’s take the crown code D2740, for example. In the Procedure Code Editor, you can select how the time units are set up for this procedure code.



Once you have allocated the Provider, Assistant, and Chair Time for the procedure, save your changes. And the next time you schedule that procedure for patients, it will be easy for your providers to know where they need to be, and you can better manage their time.

Scheduling appointments and properly assigning provider, assistant, and chair time can help the front office team to schedule more effectively. It gives them the ability to know where they can double-book a provider, and more importantly, where they can’t.

For questions on this topic or others, please email 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, August 8, 2018

Presenting Alternate Treatment Plans

When I was growing up, my dad worked for a company that produced high performance sports cars. The cars had a Lamborghini engine and cost about $200,000. My dad took me on a sales trip once that taught me a very valuable lesson. 

Two prospective buyers came to look at the car which we had brought to a high-end car dealership in Houston. The first prospective buyer was a well-dressed man with an expensive looking watch who already owned an earlier year model of the car. The second prospective buyer was a man in dirty overalls and a cowboy hat who drove a beat-up pickup truck. At the end of the day my dad asked me who I thought was going to buy the car. I answered naively, “The first man, he’s the one who can afford it.” 

My dad informed me that the man in the overalls was in fact one of the wealthiest land owners in Texas. That was a lesson in sales and about people in general that I have carried with me ever since. 

I’ve referred to that experience many times over my dental career. It taught me to never assume what a patient may want or be able to afford. It’s our job as the dental office to offer every patient all available treatment options. Present the cost for each treatment option and discuss the pros and cons. Allow the patient to make an informed decision about their dental care. 

The Dentrix Treatment Planner allows you to create different treatment options for a patient by creating multiple treatment cases. For example, a patient may have a missing tooth. They have several options to replace the missing tooth. A partial, a bridge, or an implant. When creating a treatment plan, I like to use the Treatment Planner Layout within the Patient Chart because it allows me to do multiple tasks from one screen. To switch to the Treatment Planner Layout, in the Patient Chart select the View Menu, then Chart Layout, then Treatment Planner.


First, you should treatment plan all of the options for the patient in the Patient Chart. These procedures will automatically go into the default treatment case in the Treatment Planner. The default case will be the one with the bold title.


Create a new treatment case by choosing the New Case icon in the Treatment Planner Case Setup panel. 



Click on the partial procedure within the default case, and drag and drop it into the new case folder. You can right-click on the word Treatment Plan next to the folder and select Rename Case. Rename this case “Partial”. 


Next create another new case and move all procedures associated with the bridge option from the default case to the new folder and rename it “Bridge.”

Repeat these steps for the remaining procedures associated with the implant option, renaming the new case “Implant.”

Dentrix gives the option to link these cases. Select the Link Alternate Cases icon on the tool bar and a menu will appear for you to choose which cases you want to link together.



When one or more cases are linked together, one of the cases is designated as the recommended case. The recommended case is shown with a yellow star on the link symbol. You can change the recommended case as needed by right-clicking any case, and then selecting Set as Recommended Case.

Once you have presented the options to the patient you can accept the patient’s chosen treatment plan. To accept a treatment case, select the folder and then click the Update Case Status button and choose the Accepted option. 



My favorite part about linking alternate cases is that when you accept one treatment case that is linked to other treatment cases, Dentrix will give you a warning message that this case is linked to others and it will automatically reject the other treatment options. Select OK to accept the selected case and reject the others.

Rejected cases no longer show in the graphic chart or in the treatment planner unless you check the box to include rejected cases. 



I like this feature because although we may not want to always view rejected cases, Dentrix has kept a record in the Patient Chart that additional options were presented to the patient. Rejected cases will not show on unscheduled treatment plan reports.

Linking cases is a great feature when presenting a patient with more than one treatment option.  If you have questions or comments on this topic, or any other, 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, August 1, 2018

The Value in Using Insurance Claim Status Notes

Dealing with dental insurance is a necessary evil in our profession. Tracking outstanding insurance claims is an important, on-going task in all offices that accept insurance payments. Having an organized tracking system can make this job easier.

A general goal for offices, except for ortho, is not to have any outstanding insurance claims over 60 days past due. To obtain this goal you must dedicate time daily to follow up on insurance claims. Once you have contacted an insurance company to find out the status of an outstanding claim, Dentrix has a specific place to record this information.

In the patient’s Ledger, double-click the insurance claim to open the insurance claim window.


Dentrix will automatically enter the date the claim was created and sent. Double-click the Status block to open the Insurance Claim Status window. There are fields available for you to make detailed notes regarding the status of this insurance claim. For example, you could make a note explaining that the insurance carrier is requesting X-ray, sent X-ray today. By adding notes in the Claim Status Note field, you or anyone else in the office can see when the last time the claim status was updated and what action was taken. You also have the option to check the box and enter the applicable date if Tracer Sent (meaning you attempted to track the claim), if the claim is On-Hold, if it was Re-Sent or Voided.



The advantage to making claim status notes within the insurance claim is that when you run the Insurance Aging Report (Office Manager > Reports > Ledger > Insurance Aging Report) you have an option to view the status notes on this report. 


Printing claim status notes on the Insurance Aging report is beneficial because if you can see that a claim that was resent yesterday, you may not want to contact the insurance company again regarding this claim. This can save you a lot of valuable time. 


Example of how claim status notes print on the Insurance Aging Report.
If you have questions about this topic or others, please contact me by e-mail 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, July 25, 2018

Appointment Book Views and Scheduled Production

One of the great features in Dentrix, by Henry Schein One,  is the option to set up Appointment Book Views. Appointment Book Views allow you to customize what the Appointment Book looks like on an individual work-station.

You can select which operatories, providers, days, and times that are displayed when the Appointment Book is viewed. A recent Dentrix Tip Tuesday blog post explains how you can also select which type of information is displayed for each appointment, such as patient name, phone number, chart number, appointment reason, appointment amount, provider etc.
One of the things that I like about setting up Appointment Book views is you can set up a view for a provider to track their projected production for the month. For example, you can create a view for a hygienist or a doctor and be able to see their scheduled production at a glance by first selecting that provider’s view, and then clicking the calendar in the upper left corner of the Appointment Book.


On the Calendar screen, select Scheduled Production to view the scheduled production amount for the provider(s) associated with the Appointment Book view. Scheduled Production is a toggle switch you turn on and off showing a dollar amount listed on the selected calendar day.


By clicking the Options button in the Scheduled Production calendar, you can choose if Dentrix will calculate production with production adjustments or use the production from the Practice Analysis.


When scheduling a high production case, I recommend referring to the scheduled production calendar. You can quickly see which days have lower production and schedule a high production case on one of those days. This helps to ensure the office meets its monthly production goals.

If you have entered monthly production goals they will display on the scheduled production calendar with the variance of the scheduled production to the production goal.
To enter monthly production goals, open the Office Manager. Select Analysis > Practice. In the Dentrix Practice Analysis screen, select Setup > Goals.  Goals are setup for each provider.


Select the provider and enter the year you are setting up goals for. Then click Read Selected Goals. You now have the option to add a monthly goal. Click the Add button and enter the month for the goal (for example, 8 for August) then enter the gross monthly production goal for that provider.

That goal will now display on the scheduled production calendar. Based on the providers you have selected in the Appointment Book View, Dentrix will display those provider’s production goals in relation to the scheduled production. If you have all providers selected, then you will be viewing the production goals for the entire practice.

You can use Appointment Book views to view your scheduled production which can help you schedule appointments in a way that helps you to meet your practice production goals.
Please reach out to me if you have any questions about Appointment Book Views and scheduled production. 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, July 18, 2018

New Patient Numbers

The number of new patients seen each month is an important statistic for every dental practice.  Healthy new patient numbers ensure practice growth. Therefore it is imperative that these numbers be accurate.

There are several reports in Dentrix that show new patient numbers for each month. You can find new patients seen each month in the Practice Advisor Report, the Practice Analysis in the Office Manager, and even on the production calendar in the Appointment Book. I have been in offices that say they don’t think their new patient numbers are correct.

It’s important to understand how Dentrix calculates the number of new patients seen each month. Dentrix looks at the patient’s first visit date in the Family File to get these numbers.



The best way to schedule a new patient appointment, to ensure your new patient numbers are calculated correctly, is to double-click on the desired day, time, and operatory in the Appointment Book and when the Select Patient screen appears, clicking the New Patient button.



Enter the new patient’s name, phone numbers, e-mail address, home address and referral source and select OK. 
In the appointment information window, choose Initial and select the procedures the new patient will be coming in for. Assign the appointment provider if necessary and select OK. 


The new patient’s appointment is now scheduled in the Appointment Book and Dentrix indicates this is a new patient by showing NP in front of the patient’s name on the appointment.


When the patient comes into the office for their first appointment, select the appointment in the Appointment Book and go to the Family File. From the Family File, select File > New Patient with Appt. Select if you are creating a new family or adding to an existing family.


Dentrix pulls in the information you entered for the patient when you created their appointment. Fill in additional information as needed (including birth date, patient status, and gender). Dentrix will assign the patient’s first visit date as the date you are entering the patient into the Family File. This date can be changed manually if necessary. When finished, click OK to save the patient’s information.


Entering new patients this way will keep your monthly new patient numbers accurate. If you have questions about new patient numbers or how to enter patients into the Family File, 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, July 11, 2018

Using the Dentrix Time Clock

I hope I’m not telling my age when I say that I remember using an actual punch-style timeclock to punch in and out on a time card each day. As the office manager, I would have to manually add up each employee’s hours for each pay period. It was always a time-consuming process. Then we started using the Time Clock feature in Dentrix. It made the process much easier. Dentrix would do the work of calculating each employee’s hours based on a selected date range.

In order to use the Dentrix Time Clock, each staff member will need to have a unique user ID. You can set up each employee with a user ID in the Dentrix Office Manager. Select Maintenance > Practice Setup > Practice Resource Setup.


Remember when setting up employees in the Practice Resource Setup that dentists and hygienists should be entered under Providers, with dentists being primary providers and hygienists being secondary providers.


Assistants and administrative staff should be entered under Staff.

Once set up in Dentrix, staff can use the Time Clock icon located in the Dentrix Launcher to clock in when they arrive the morning, in and out for lunch, and clock out at the end of each day. 


If an employee forgets to clock in or out, they can add a note to on their time card to communicate to the office manager they made an error. 


At the end of each pay period, I recommend the office manager print the Time Clock report. Open the Time Clock Module and select Report. On the report, Dentrix calculates each employee’s hours and gives you a total number of hours for a specific date range. The report displays a list of employees and their hours.


Select the employees you want to include on the report, then select the date range for the pay period. Under the Select Report Types options, check the box to include notes. These would be notes that an employee wrote on their time card, for example, “I arrived at 9:00am, but forgot to clock in”. 

Check to Exclude Days with no Punches/Notes so Dentrix doesn’t print days without punches like weekends. I recommend checking the New Page for Each Employee option and giving it to the employee to review. They can sign the time card to verify they have reviewed it. 

I have found that allowing employees to verify their time card can eliminate future discrepancies regarding hours. You can keep the signed time card with the employee’s check stub, or you can scan it into the employee’s Dentrix Document Center.   

If you have questions about the Dentrix Time Clock, check out the Punching the Clock and Set up Your Time Clock Dentrix Tip Tuesday posts, or 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, July 4, 2018

Dentrix Continuing Care, Part 3 of 3

Over the last few weeks, we have been talking about using Dentrix Continuing Care as an efficient recall system for your office. Using Dentrix Continuing Care you can schedule patients according to their customized frequency interval. For the patients who don’t pre-schedule their appointment, you can use continuing care lists to follow up. If continuing care is not set up correctly, it can’t function properly.

We have discussed how to assign a procedure code to a continuing care type and how to assign office default intervals for a continuing care type. We also discussed how to customize frequency intervals for an individual patient. For example, those patients who may need to be seen more frequently for a procedure, like a prophy.

Now that you have this setup, you may have continuing care types you will no longer use that need to be cleaned up. A continuing care type can be deleted, however to delete it, no patients can be attached to it. Let’s first look at how we can identify patients attached to continuing care type.

One of my favorite ways to identify groups of patients in Dentrix is using the Patient Reports (by filters) in the Office Manager. Open the Office Manager, select Letters and Custom Lists > Misc.  Highlight Patient Report (by filters), and then select Edit.

In this setup screen you have many options for search filters. Dentrix will search your patient database using the selected search filters and create a list of patients that meet your search criteria.

In this situation, I would recommend searching for patients with the Status of patient, inactive, and non-patient to be sure we find all patients in your database attached to the continuing care type you want to delete.


Before you begin selecting your search filters be sure to check that all the filter fields are clear. Otherwise Dentrix will apply those filter fields and your report will be incomplete.

Select >> next to Continuing Care. Choose the continuing care type you want to delete to find which patients are attached to it. I would recommend leaving both the Due Date and Prior Treatment Date fields blank to find all attached patients and I also recommend selecting ALL in the Include box to view patients both with and without appointments. Then click OK to go back to the Setup window.


Click OK again to close the Setup window and then click Open List Manager. The List Manager opens and will show all patients attached to the selected continuing care type that you want to delete. From this list you can highlight a patient’s name and click the Family File icon on the toolbar. 



In the selected patient’s Family File, double-click the Continuing Care block. Select the continuing care type you want to delete, click the Clear button, and then Yes to confirm.


Once all the patients attached to that continuing care type have been cleared, you can delete the continuing care type. To do this, open the Office Manager, Select Maintenance > Practice Setup > Continuing Care > Continuing Care Setup. Choose the continuing care type and select Delete. Then close the Continuing Care Setup window.  


Using these steps, you can clean up your continuing care type and delete any that the office no longer uses. Now that your continuing care system is set up correctly you can use it to easily schedule the patient’s next appointment and you can generate lists from which you can contact patients that don’t have an appointment. Using and maintaining Dentrix Continuing Care is the key to having a successful hygiene department. If you have any questions regarding Dentrix Continuing Care, 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.