Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Dentrix Continuing Care, Part 1 of 3

An effective recall system is an important part of any dental practice. It is the key to a successful hygiene department. Although many offices try to pre-appoint patients before they leave the office, there are usually patients who don’t schedule or who cancel their appointments. It is crucial to have a good tracking system for patients so that you can follow up.

Dentrix Continuing Care is designed to do just that. It tracks when a patient last had a continuing care procedure, like a prophy or x-rays, and when they are due next. If it is set up correctly, Dentrix will prompt you to schedule the patient’s next appointment and patients will show up on continuing care lists which you can use to find patients without a scheduled appointment. I have found some offices don’t know how to properly set up continuing care initially so that Dentrix does the work for you.

A continuing care type is a term used to describe specific procedures that are completed on a recurring schedule for the patient. For example, a continuing care type named PROPHY could consist of a cleaning and an exam every six months. A continuing care type is tied to a procedure code. When you set that procedure code complete from the Appointment Book, Dentrix will ask you if you want to create a new continuing care appointment. You can use this feature to schedule the patient’s next appointment. If the procedure code is not set up correctly with the continuing care attached, Dentrix can’t function as designed.

To check which continuing care type a procedure code is attached to, open the Dentrix Office Manager. Click Maintenance > Practice Setup > Procedure Code Setup. Find the procedure code and click Edit. Highlight the Continuing Care Type you want to assign to this procedure code then click Select. Save the changes you made in the Procedure Code Setup and Close.


It is important to note that a procedure code can only be attached to one continuing care type.  For example, the code D1110 (Adult Prophy) can’t be attached to both the PROPHY and PERIO continuing care types. 

However, a continuing care type can be attached to multiple procedure codes. 


For example, if you attached procedure code D1110 to the continuing care type PROPHY, you can also have procedure code D1120, a Child Prophy, attached to the same PROPHY continuing care type. 

Once these procedure codes are attached to the PROPHY continuing care type, any time a patient has D1110 or D1120 set complete from the Appointment Book, Dentrix will prompt you to schedule their next appointment for those procedures and the Dentrix Continuing Care system will calculate their next due date according to the interval you’ve set up for that patient and that continuing care type.

Join me next week and we will talk about how to customize Dentrix Continuing Care intervals on an individual patient basis. As always, feel free to contact 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, June 13, 2018

School’s Out, Get Those Patients In!

It’s summer time and school is out! Now is the perfect time to schedule appointments for children and college students who may have had limited availability during the school year. Throughout the school year many children play sports or participate in other after-school activities, and parents don’t have time to bring them to dental appointments. Summer is also the time when college students who have been away for school are back in town. This makes summer the ideal time for those patients to come in for their hygiene appointments as well as for any outstanding treatment.

In Dentrix, you can create custom lists of patients you can contact about scheduling their appointments using two different filters.

You'll want to narrow down your list to only include children and college-age patients based on their birthday.

Open the Dentrix Office Manager, select Letters & Custom Lists, and then select Misc. From the list, select Patient Report (by filters) and click the Edit button.


Make sure all filters are cleared out before you begin. Otherwise your list will be limited and incomplete. Then set the following filters a) birthday, b) continuing care, and c) procedures:



First, click the Search button (>>) next to Birthday, and enter a beginning date and ending date for the birthdays you want to search for. For instance, if you want to search for school-aged children between the ages of 5 and 18, you would enter 01/01/2000-12/31/2013. Be sure to check Search as Date Range so that your search finds all patients with birthdays within that date range, then select OK.



Then, click the Search button next to Continuing Care and enter a Due Date range. For example, to find patients due during the summer months, enter the Due Date from 06/01/2018 to 09/01/2018. Then choose PROPHY from the Continuing Care Type list, choose the option to include patients Without Attached Appointment, then click OK. This will give you a list of school-aged patients who are due for a prophy between June 1st and September 1st and do not already have an appointment.




Then, if you also want to find which of these school-aged patients are overdue for hygiene visits, and who also have outstanding treatment, you could add a third filter. Click the Search button next to Procedures. Check the Treatment Plan option, and leave the procedure code range set from <ALL> to <ALL>. And click OK.



Only patients that meet the three filtering criteria (birthdate range, overdue for prophy, and have unscheduled treatment) should appear on our list. We’ll generate that list using the List Manager.
The List Manager is an interactive workable list.  From the list you can click a patient’s name and access other Dentrix modules like the Family File or the Patient Chart which can be useful to have accessible when contacting patients and scheduling appointments.



By using the Patient Report (by filters) to find a filtered list of patients, and then working with the list of matching results in the Dentrix List Manager, you can easily identify groups of patients like school-aged children and college students  you can contact about treatment. 


It’s beneficial for the patients and the practice to contact these patients and schedule their appointments while school is out. The patients have more flexible schedules which makes it more convenient for them to come in for appointments. Contacting these patients can help you fill open appointment times in your schedule. For more information or questions about Patient Reports or the Dentrix List Manager, 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, June 6, 2018

Charting Referred Procedures

Have you needed to find the date a referred procedure was completed? For example, a patient is in the chair and the doctor needs to know when the patient’s implant was placed, or a root canal was completed. Charting referred procedures in the Dentrix Patient Chart can help in several ways. The patient’s chart is more accurate, and it gives you the information you need quickly instead of having to search for it in a paper chart or the patient’s Document Center.

When you chart referred procedures, you can also help to generate production. Because the referred procedures are there in the Patient Chart, your doctor can easily see that an implant was placed 3 months ago and is ready to restore. Then you can schedule the patient’s appointment for the implant restoration while the outstanding treatment is still fresh in their mind and they are motivated to schedule. Or perhaps, if your office allows for it, you can provide treatment the same day. That can greatly increase your daily production.

When a procedure is treatment planned in the Patient Chart you can double click on the procedure and mark it as Referred To Doctor.


This will put a symbol (R>) next to the procedure to show it has been referred, and it will change the fee to 0.00. The referred procedure still prints on the patient’s printed Treatment Plan Case, which I like, because it communicates to the patient that procedure needs to be done and if you have set visits in their treatment plan, the patient knows in what order the treatment should be completed.

Once the treatment has been completed by the doctor you referred the patient to, you can mark the procedure as completed in the Patient Chart. Because it was done by another provider, the procedure will have an Existing Other status in the Patient Chart and show as Existing Other in the graphic chart.

 For example, I like the visual of seeing the unrestored endo tooth because it reminds me that the crown still needs to be scheduled. 
Plus, did you know you can print a referral right from the Patient Chart? This can save time having to hand write a referral and then scan that referral into the Dentrix Document Center. After you have marked a procedure as Referred To Doctor in the Patient Chart, click on File > Print > Referral Slip.


The date range will default to today’s date, but you can change the date range as needed to include the date of the referred procedure. You also have the option to write an additional note on the bottom of the referral if there is something you need to communicate to the referred to doctor. 

Charting referred procedures in the Patient Chart can save you time. You no longer have to search for information, it will all be in one place. The Patient Chart will be more accurate with a record of all procedures including those that were referred out to another doctor. If you have questions or comments on this topic, you can 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, May 30, 2018

A Bird in the Hand Is Worth Two in the Bush

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. This old proverb can apply to dentistry. Typically, an office will have patients who have outstanding treatment plans on the schedule for a hygiene appointment. These patients are your bird in the hand. It can benefit both the patient and your practice to provide these patients with their outstanding treatment the same day as their hygiene appointment.

In my experience, a patient is most motivated to proceed with a treatment plan while they are in the office. They received an educational explanation from the doctor and clinical team and they understand the importance of their treatment plan and the consequences of not getting it done. They had a discussion with the financial coordinator and understand their payment options. But then they leave the office and life gets in the way. The patient’s outstanding dental treatment goes to the bottom of their priority list.

What if we could provide the treatment while they are in the office and they are motivated? This is good for the patient for a couple of reasons. We all know dental problems do not go away. Over time they only become more extensive and costly. Secondly, since the patient is already in your office they can avoid taking additional time off from work to come to the dentist. The dental practice also benefits by providing same-day dentistry which increases case acceptance and practice production.

The key to being able to provide same-day dentistry is communication within the office. Communication starts at the beginning of the day with a morning meeting or daily huddle.

During your daily huddle you can discuss the patients who are coming in that day who have outstanding treatment plans. You can plan which operatory, doctor and assistant will be available during that time and may be able to provide same-day dentistry for those patients. You can plan when the financial coordinator will have a financial discussion with the patient regarding their estimated insurance benefits and payment options. This type of planning can streamline the treatment plan presentation to the patient.

The Dentrix Office Manager has a Daily Huddle Report within the Practice Advisor that lists the patients coming in for appointments on a given day and which of those patients have outstanding treatment plans. Open the Dentrix Office Manager > Analysis > Practice Advisor > Daily Huddle Report.


Then click Scheduled Patients Setup and check Patients with Treatment Plans.


You can use the Daily Huddle Report while you are discussing your upcoming day to identify which patients have outstanding treatment plans.



Having a daily huddle can improve office communication and possibly allow the office to provide same-day dentistry for some patients. In my experience, offices that have been able to implement same-day dentistry have seen great success with it.

I am a big proponent of offices having a daily huddle to improve office communication. This is a topic I am passionate about because I have seen it improve workflow for many offices. If you have questions about how to implement this in your office or how you can improve what you are already doing, 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, May 23, 2018

Spring Cleaning for Your Dentrix Database


My neighborhood had a community yard sale recently and it got me thinking about de-cluttering and spring cleaning. In our homes we tend to collect clutter over time and we also do it in our Dentrix database. The problem with clutter in your Dentrix database is that it can cause reports to be inaccurate. Let’s look at some of the places we tend to collect clutter in Dentrix and talk about some ways to clean it up.

1. Patient Database
Does your office have a protocol for inactivating patients after several failed attempts to schedule? For example, some offices will attempt to contact a patient three times before changing the patient’s status in the Dentrix Family File to inactive.

If you have attempted to contact a patient to schedule and have been unsuccessful, you can send them a letter letting them know you have been trying to reach them, and since they haven’t responded, you are going to change their status in your system to inactive.

When I sent the Inactive Patient letter, I was surprised how many patients responded. They did not want their status changed to inactive because they thought that meant they had to find a new dentist. Sending this letter enables you to clean up your patient database and may motivate some patients to schedule.

You can find the Inactive Patient letters in the Dentrix Office Manager. Click on Letters & Custom Lists, then click on Inactive Patient.



When you change a patient’s status to Inactive, be sure to delete their Continuing Care in their Dentrix Family File and to mark any outstanding treatment as Rejected, otherwise the patient will continue to show up on your Unscheduled Treatment Plan List and Continuing Care List. 

2. Provider Database

Do you have old providers listed in your database? This can be frustrating when you are scheduling an appointment and must choose from many providers. You can inactivate old providers in the Dentrix Office Manager > Maintenance > Practice Setup> Practice Resource Setup.


When inactivating a provider, you must choose a replacement provider. I recommend using a replacement with the same job classification, replace a doctor with another doctor, a hygienist with another hygienist.

To inactivate providers, all computers must be logged out of Dentrix and you should have a current back up. 

3. Employer and Insurance Database

Employer and Insurance databases often get cluttered. Duplicate entries happen in almost every office. It’s a good idea to have an office discussion about how employer names and insurance carrier names should be entered to avoid duplicates. For example, do we want to enter the insurance carrier name as Blue Cross Blue Shield or BC BS?

When entering a new insurance plan into the Dentrix Family File for a patient, I recommend searching by group number first to see if that group already exists in your Dentrix database. This can help to avoid duplicates.

To clean up your insurance and employer database, you can join plans and purge plans. Open the Dentrix Office Manager, click Maintenance > Reference, and then either Employer Maintenance or Insurance Maintenance.


It’s important to note that Dentrix only allows you to purge insurance plans that are not attached to a patient and have no outstanding claims attached.

To find out which plans are not attached to a patient you can run an Insurance Carrier List from the Office Manager > Reports > Reference > Insurance Carrier List. Check Include Subscribers. This will provide you with a list of insurance carriers and the patients they are attached to.



To check for any outstanding claims, run an Insurance Aging Report. From the Office Manager, choose Reports > Ledger > Insurance Aging Report.

I recommend purging and joining employers and insurance plans on an annual basis. Make it a part of your year-end routine to get a jump on your spring cleaning. You may not have a need to do it that frequently if you and your team commit to preventing duplicate entries. Create a policy on how employers and insurance plans should be entered in Dentrix and train the team. Have them get in the habit of searching for an employer or insurance plan before entering a new one.

For more tips, read the Dentrix Magazine article titled 6 Ways to Clean up Your Dentrix Database

Enjoy your de-cluttered Dentrix database! Please feel free to contact me with any questions 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, May 16, 2018

Tracking Production Accurately

I was training in a practice recently where there is one doctor and two hygienists. The hygienists are responsible for reaching a daily production goal. Both the hygienists and the doctor want to be able to run accurate reports for production and collections so they can set attainable goals. Dentrix offers some features which help to post production and collections accurately by provider so you can run reports at the end of each month and evaluate each provider’s production.

In Dentrix G6 there is a great tool to help you split procedures completed during the same appointment between providers. This is something that you usually do in the case of a hygiene appointment. The prophy would be posted to the hygienist and the exam would be posted to the doctor.

In the Dentrix Appointment Book, when you click the Set Complete button, you can click one of the completed procedures from the list and change the provider. That procedure will then be posted to the Dentrix Ledger with the correct provider. I really like this feature. It is a reminder to check and make sure the provider of each procedure is correct.




I recommend checking your day sheet at the end of each day to ensure all procedures were posted to the correct provider. I always find it frustrating to find an exam posted to a hygiene provider at the end of the month. It’s a needle in a haystack to find and correct it. I find that reviewing daily is more efficient.

Dentrix G6 also has tools to help you ensure that collections are posted to the correct provider. When you are posting a patient payment in the Dentrix Ledger, there is a “Split By Provider” option. This will split the patient payment between the appropriate providers.




Also, when you are posting an insurance payment, be sure to use the “Itemize by Procedure” option. The insurance payment for each procedure will be posted to the appropriate provider. And, finally, don’t forget to check that adjustments are posted to the correct providers too!




Using these tools in Dentrix, you can make sure both production and collections are posted to the correct providers. Accurate tracking and reporting of production and collections by provider allow the practice owner to evaluate which providers are most productive. This could be beneficial if the practice owner is considering a bonus or incentive system. In some offices, a hygienist must maintain a daily average production goal to be eligible for an increase in pay.

If you have questions or would like more information on this topic, 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, May 9, 2018

Minimizing Open Appointments


Unfortunately, patient cancellations are a fact of life in every dental office.
I was in an office recently where the office manager complained she would get several messages from patients on a Sunday night, canceling appointments for Monday. The office schedule was typically very busy and booked out far in advance. The office wished they had a list of patients who would like to come in sooner to fill their schedule.

I recommend keeping a list of patients who may want to come in sooner for an appointment. It’s a huge time saver to have a list of patients ready and waiting to come in. There are many patients who may want to come in sooner. For example, a patient who is retired or works from home may have a schedule that allows them to be flexible for appointments. A patient with a toothache may be very eager to get started on that root canal as soon as possible. Or a patient who can only come in for a 4:00PM appointment may be willing to come at 4:00PM on any day. These are patients you can easily call and offer appointments to fill open appointment times.

Dentrix has appointment lists for these very types of patients. When the patient has an appointment scheduled but wants to come in sooner, you can assign these schedule types: Fixed, Open, or ASAP.

I suggest using Fixed for your patients who need a specific day and time and can’t be flexible and come in on short notice. Open would be used for patients with a flexible schedule who may be able to come in on short notice. ASAP would be used for patients who want to come in as soon as possible. (Dentrix defaults the schedule types to Fixed unless you customize this in the practice appointment setup.)

To assign a schedule type to a patient and have the patient show with a status of “open” or “ASAP,” open the Dentrix Appointment Book, double-click an open time, and select a patient to display the Appointment Information dialog box. Click the Schedule field and select ASAP or Open.



You can access the ASAP and Open lists from the Appointment Book, under the Appt List menu. In Dentrix G6.5 and newer versions, the ASAP and Open appointment lists have been combined into one interactive list that you filter to view the patients you want to see.

I particularly like this new feature because it makes the appointment lists more user friendly. You can select from ASAP, Appointments, Pinboard and Unscheduled Lists. Or you can create custom lists by clicking on Setup > Appointment List View.



The new Dentrix Appointment List is more interactive than previous versions because not only can you access the patient’s Office Journal directly from the list, but you can also access the patient’s other Dentrix modules, such as the Dentrix Family File, Patient Chart and Ledger. I find it helpful to have easy access to these modules when I’m calling a patient to schedule.

Once you have selected an Appointment List, or created a custom list, you can sort the appointments by clicking on the column header. You can use this tool to sort the appointments by name, by provider, by operatory and by appointment reason. I like to sort by appointment reason, especially when using the lists to fill an open appointment. I can start by calling the patients who need a high production procedure, like a crown, to maintain a productive schedule.

Try using these appointment lists to fill open appointments more easily. They give you a list to work from that is accessible from all computers. Also, team members can confidently contact these patients, knowing that the patients have expressed an interest in coming in sooner.

Please e-mail me at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com if you have questions or would like to learn more.


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.