Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Case Acceptance . . . how much treatment are you scheduling each day?

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you have gained a lot of
knowledge about treatment planning, case management and following up on unscheduled treatment. Keeping your schedule full is imperative to having a successful practice and knowing what reports to manage to ensure patients don’t fall through the cracks is one of the core systems we manage in the practice.

You might be asking yourself, “What is my case acceptance?” and “How can I show my doctor the cases I am closing every day?” Is there a report that will show the treatment plans that are accepted on a daily basis? What if you are on an incentive plan for case acceptance? How would you show that to your doctor?

All those questions came to me from a practice administrator who is tracking case acceptance for his team. Then, the same question came in from a treatment coordinator who is on a bonus program for closing cases. I found it interesting that I was asked basically the same question by two different offices within the same week so I thought, “If they have this question, I bet the rest of the world does as well.”

You may know that I love, love, love the Treatment ManagerReport for following up on patients with unscheduled treatment. However, this report does not let me filter by accepted cases. For my article today, this is where I want to focus. You can generate a daily list of treatment plan cases that have been accepted so you can now know how much treatment you are scheduling and you can show it to your doctor if you need to report it.

Let’s say that three months ago, a patient was diagnosed with two crowns and she left without scheduling. Today, you called the patient to follow up and you got her scheduled. Woohoo! If you mark the case as accepted, now you have a way of tracking it.

Let’s also say that, today, you have five patients come in and you schedule three of them for treatment. If you also mark those three cases as accepted, they will also show up on the same report. Now you will have an accepted case report with four cases for today.


Go to the Patient Chart with the Treatment Plan Panel in view or the Treatment Planner and click on the printer icon as if you were going to print a treatment plan estimate. Instead of clicking on the Print Treatment Case, click on the Practice Treatment Case Report. Then select today for your date range and highlight Accepted for the case status. You will generate a list of all the cases that were accepted today and be able to show your awesome hard work for today. Great job!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Welcome to 2017 . . . update fees and keeping your reports accurate

It’s a new year! Welcome to 2017! It’s time to think about new insurance benefits, fee schedule updates and making sure that all your reports are up to date. There is a lot going on at the beginning of the year that we need to plan for and make sure your practice is running like a well-oiled machine.

First, let’s tackle the new insurance benefits. Now, not all insurance benefits renew in January but most still do and it is important to keep your insurance as accurate as possible so you can keep your accounts receivable in check. The insurance benefits used is updated and reset back to zero at the time you run the month end process.

It might be time to do a fee increase in your practice or maybe one of your contracted PPO plans has sent you an updated fee schedule (wishful thinking I know) that you need to update. If this is the case, then go to the Office Manager > Maintenance > Reference > Fee Schedule Maintenance. Now you can select the fee schedule you want to update and choose the appropriate process you want to complete. If you are going to update your office fees by a set percentage, then highlight the fee schedule name and click on auto updates and enter the details. If you have a PPO fee schedule plan that you need to update certain procedure codes, then highlight the fee schedule and click on View/Update. Then edit the procedure codes one at a time.

Now, the last thing I want to really hit home is how important it is to run your December month end so that your management reports are as accurate as possible. The month end routine will move your ending balance from the previous month into the beginning balance of the new month, so if you need to know what your A/R is at the end of December for accounting purposes this is extremely important. The easiest way to check your accounts receivable is to look at the Practice Analysis from the Office Manager > Analysis > Practice and then looking at the YTD ending balance. This ending balance will not be accurate if you have not performed month end.


Looking for an amazing year! Thank you for being a loyal reader of my blog.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

New Associate? Get the setup right from the start

Do you have a new associate in your practice and not quite sure how to make sure the provider settings are correct? Let me help.


There are a couple of settings that you need to make sure are correct to avoid any delayed claims, rejected claims and provider payment allocation. Depending on if your new associate is paid on production or collection will determine how you should setup your default payment allocation. Also, it is important to know how Dentrix looks at the provider with some of the management reports.

  • The first thing you will set up is the provider ID in the Practice Resource Setup. This is where you will enter the NPI, Tax ID, DEA and provider license number. The doctor’s personal (Type I NPI) number will go here and the office tax ID number.
  • After you have the provider setup finished, then double check that the claim is set up the way you want it. The claim setup in located in the Practice Defaults, go to the Office Manager > Maintenance > Practice Setup > Practice Defaults. This is where you want to double check that the Billing/Pay To Provider and the Rendering/Treating Provider is set up the way you want it. The information here makes up the bottom two boxes on your insurance claim form and the insurance companies use this information to know who to send the check to and if the rendering provider is a contracted provider.
  • Depending on how your associate is being paid may prompt you to double check your default payment allocation setup. Go to the Office Manager > Maintenance > Practice Setup > Preferences and look in the upper left corner of this window to see how it is set up now. There are four choices and you can read a blog I wrote recently about these options by CLICKING HERE. If your new associate is being paid on collections, this is going to be extremely important.

The above list are the critical things to makes sure the billing and claim form is set up correctly for your doctors.

You will also need to setup your new provider with the appointment days, hours and a special color for the appointment book.  You can read more about how to set up the appointment for your new doctor by CLICKING HERE.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Why do I need to run Month End?

January is right around the corner and that means we are coming up on Year End.  I get asked a lot of questions about what the process is this time of year.  Is there a special report I should run?  Is there anything I need to know about running Year End?  The fact is there is nothing different to running Year End as there is to running Month End. 

Month End is a very important process to keeping your system running smoothly and making sure all your data is as accurate as possible.  It is also a very important security feature and should not be ignored.  I am surprised how many offices have not run a Month End for months, or even years.  Let’s go through exactly what the Month End process does so you have a clear understanding of how important it is. 

The Month End process does four main things . . .

  • It will age your account balances.  This will move your current balance into 30 days, 30 days into 60 and so on.  On many reports, including the Provider A/R Totals report, it will move your ending accounts receivable balance into the beginning balance for the new month.
  • Your ledger for that month will now be placed into history, which means that you cannot edit or delete anything on the patient’s ledger.  You will need to make an adjustment if you want to fix something on the ledger.
  • The Month End will lock up any clinical notes that have not been signed so there can be no editing to your clinical documentation.  If you need to change a clinical note, you can do an addendum. 
  • It will reset any insurance benefit used back to zero if the insurance plan is scheduled to renew.  This becomes very important for your December Month End because so many plans renew in January. 

For more information about the Month End process, please check out these other blog posts.

CLICK HERE for some sample reports to run



Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Top 10 Blogs of the Year

What an amazing year it has been. The Dentrix Office Manager blog continues to grow and this year we topped over 17k page views each month . . . . thank you so much! Thank you for sharing your favorite posts with your friends and colleagues.

Enjoy the top 10!

  1. Checking insurance benefits will suck the life out of you unless you change your system  Dental insurance benefits are the thorn in our side every day. Checking benefits, eligibility and maximums for our patients is a great benefit … and it also sucks the life out of us to the point where we don’t have time for other things during the day. There needs to be a balance between it being a customer service task and a hand-holding task. The insurance benefits belong to the patient. They do not belong to the practice and we need to put the verbal skills in place to help our patients understand this . . . 
  2. Give your scanner a break . . . two ways to eliminate scanning  Does your front office have a basket over flowing with papers with a sign on it that reads “TO BE SCANNED?” No one in the office wants to touch it because it is one of those tedious tasks that no one wants to do … so it just grows and grows. I know how you feel and many practices I work with say that scanning is one of the biggest pain points they deal with every day . . .
  3. Health History Update . . . it's about being prepared for anything  If your patient had a medical emergency and your team had to call 911, how long would it take you to pull up his or her most current medical history? Is the list of current medications and allergies buried among all your clinical notes or does your most recently scanned health history form have the words “no changes” all over it, forcing you to continue searching back to the next scanned document … only to find the words “no changes” all over this one as well. It’s not just about being prepared for an emergency … it’s about being prepared for anything . . .
  4. Protect yourself from an insurance audit with proper documentation  Have any of you been noticing your X-rays being denied more frequently than usual or have you been subject to an insurance audit on excessive X-rays? It is happening and if you have not seen it yet, you will soon. I want you to be as prepared as possible when the insurance companies come knocking on your door . . .
  5. Must Reads for Doctor, Assistant, Hygienist and Admin team  . . . So I thought for the holiday weekend I would put together a priority list for the doctor, hygienist, dental assistant and admin team.  Here are the top three posts in each category . . . 
  6. Three tips for an accurate list of patients with unused insurance benefits  We have all heard the phrase “Garbage in, Garbage out.” This phrase comes into play especially when you and your team are trying to generate a list of patients who have unscheduled treatment and unused insurance benefits. Since this is typically the time of year when you want to start reminding patients to use or lose their unused insurance benefits, you want to make sure that this amount used is not a bunch of garbage . . . 
  7. It's the little things . . .  It’s the little things that matter.  I hear that statement all the time being out in the dental industry working with dental practices from all over the country. I love it when I show clients something and their eyes light up because they now know something that is so simple but makes such a huge impact on their day . . .
  8. Hygienists . . . you are one of the primary educators in the practice  We all know that research shows the systemic links between oral health and the rest of the body, especially the relationship between periodontal disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and respiratory disease. As oral health providers, it is our responsibility to educate our patients about the significance of periodontal disease and how it will affect the rest of their body . . . 
  9. Accurate Family Balance or Accurate Patient Balance . . . you choose  In my last post, I talked about the fact that I love how many things in Dentrix can be customized to fit the needs of the practice, from the toolbars to colors on the patient chart. In addition to visual customizations, you can also change the way payments are handled in the ledger as they are applied to the providers and specific patients. You would think that every office would want to handle payments and track collections the same, but this is not the case . . . 
  10. How to generate an Unscheduled Treatment Report for patients who have already said "Yes" to treatment.  Back in February, I wrote an article on using visual tools to help communicate the status of the treatment plan with your entire team. If you want to re-read it, CLICK HERE. If you have implemented some of these visual aids, did you know that you can filter one of the Treatment Plan reports to give you a narrower search?



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.