Back in the Day
Do you remember back in the day when you would get film x-rays from a referring doctor or the patients’ previous dentist and you would stick them in some kind of a filing system until the patient’s appointment? The x-ray accordion file or hanging file folder seemed so simple and everyone in the office knew where it was.
Well those days are quickly coming to an end for those dental offices transitioning to electronic health records and digital x-rays, and I’ll be the first to admit that the road to change can be a bit bumpy. Although there are multiple ways to import images and store them effectively, in my office it has been challenging at times to make sure the x-rays are received and then imported into the patients chart so that the clinical team has access to them before the patient’s appointment. So, here’s some hard-won advice from one who’s been there.
Life after “The X-ray File”
So, what DO you do with the digital x-rays you receive for a new patient when you haven’t yet opened their account in Dentrix? Is there a digital equivalent of that accordion file or hanging file folder that’s been so effective for storing those x-rays all these years? I have a couple suggestions.
If you are using Microsoft Outlook, go to file > Data File Management > click on “add,” and create a file folder for your x-rays received from other offices. This will give you a way to move those e-mails containing x-ray images into a designated file folder where you can store them separately from all the other e-mails in your inbox. Then, when you are ready to import the images into your software, you can delete the e-mail containing the x-rays.
Another option is to create a file folder on your desktop called something jazzy like “x-rays from other offices.” If you choose this method, you will then need to create patient-specific sub-folders inside of this folder. This will enable you to download the images into the patient’s unique sub-folder as they come in, and you’ll be able to locate them more easily when you need them. Then, when the patient comes in, you would import the images from your desktop folder into the patient’s chart and then delete the patient’s sub-folder from the desktop file.
Either way . . .
Whichever way you go with your pre-upload storage system, when you are ready to import the images to the patient’s chart, you can import them into the Dentrix Document Center or your imaging software. And here’s a tip: If your office has not yet purchased an imaging software program and you are importing x-rays into the Dentrix Document Center make sure you have saved the image in the correct format. These formats include .bmp, .jpg, .tif, .gif and .png. The most common is .jpg (jpeg). Don’t be afraid to ask the office that is sending image files to you to send them in one of these file types to make it easier for you. Help them help you!
Once the x-rays are safely home in the Dentrix Document Center, you can easily view them on the computer screen, attach them to an insurance claim, e-mail them using Microsoft Outlook or export them out to a different folder or your desktop. But these last topics I will save for another day . . .