Monday, September 26, 2011

Drumroll please . . .

It’s here!  The feature you all have been waiting for . . . Dentalink! 
I know, I asked the same thing . . . Denta –what?   Dentalink is the new instant messenger feature inside of your Dentrix software.    Like other IM programs, (such as  Yahoo instant messenger), Dentalink allows you to send a quick message to someone or have a full length conversation.  Unlike with other IM programs, though, with Dentalink you don’t have to create a new password or join anything to be a member,  you just have to install the latest version of eSync with the new Plug-in Manager.

Once your office computers are updated, Dentalink is ready to go.  You will see a little conversation bubble in the lower right task bar on your computer and if you miss a message notification from someone it will blink yellow until you read it.  Pretty cool, huh?  If you do want to go into the eSync setup and customize Dentalink you can – for example you can change your workstation names and create some templates if you are finding yourself typing the same sentences over and over again.  But none of that is necessary – the functions you need are already built in.
So here’s a situation for you:
                Your patient, Ms. Jones walks in and you greet her just like you always do.  Ms. Jones sits in the reception room for 5 . . .10 . . . 20 minutes until you finally walk to the back to find out why they are running late.  Your hygienist says “Oh, we decided to place Arestin in a couple areas while Mr. Smith was here, can you let Ms. Jones know that I am running a little behind?”  You think (to yourself of course), “Why didn’t she just tell me that 20 minutes ago so I could have let Ms. Jones know as soon as she walked in the door?”  
Once your office has Dentalink installed -any team member can send a Quick Message from any workstation up to the front desk notifying them of the situation.    Armed with this information, you’ll be able to set a reasonable expectation for Ms. Jones and save yourself the aggravation of being left in the dark when changes occur that impact the schedule.
Here’s another one for you:
                Your office has a Comlite system with buttons and flashing lights to let the clinical team members AND YOUR DOCTORS know when they are needed.   However, your doctor is in his office glued to his computer watching an oral surgery webinar and ignoring the Comlite.  If you had Dentalink installed, you could send him an instant message that would “pop-up” right in the middle of his webinar.  You could say something like “Is the Comlite not working in your office again?”  We use that one a lot J
Give the Dentalink feature a try!  I know you’ll appreciate the simple effectiveness of this tool – and I think you’ll find it allows your whole team to stay more closely in sync with each other throughout the day. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Use it or Lose it!

Put a little extra peace in your Holiday Season
It’s that time of year again . . . time to send out a reminder to our patients letting them know how much money they still have available of their insurance maximum so they can take advantage of their benefits before they lose them at the end of the year. (I know, I know, not all insurance companies renew at the end of December, but you can use this same technique for those unique plans that renew at other times during the year.)
A reminder today can save a heap of stress come December
Patients love that we take the time to send them a gentle reminder about their available benefits and treatment needs.  Sending out this letter now will hopefully save us all from that mad rush at the end of the year.  You know that phone call we get on December 10th that goes something like this;
“Hi, this is David and I want to get that crown done so I can use up my insurance before the end of the year.  Sorry I didn’t call sooner but time just flew by.” 
Unfortunately for David, our reply at that point would likely be;
“David, we have had a lot of people in your situation and our schedule is full till the end of the year so I will need to keep you on a waiting list.” 
By sending out the reminder letter now, we can help avoid this situation and at least lower the possibility that we’ll have a bunch of David’s calling around to other offices to see if they can get squeezed in before the clock strikes midnight on the 31st of December.
Wondering how to generate a letter like that? 
Dentrix letter merge makes it easy.  Here’s how to use it:
From the Office Manager, go to Letters > misc > Treatment Plan Reminder > Edit > then select the parameters for your search.  Click on the >> next to the ‘Dental Insurance’ to open the options for insurance, then click the >> next to the ‘Procedures,’ put a check mark next to  ‘Treatment Plan,’ and select the date range you want.  These selections will help you generate a group of patients who have a treatment plan with remaining insurance benefits. 
If you want to customize the Treatment Plan Letter (dtxlm21) you can click on ‘open template’ and make any changes you want and then say “yes” to save.  (Remember, however, that when you create a merge, you must always say “no” to save after you are done printing.)
Hopefully with this secret weapon your phones will start ringing off the hook with patients scheduling their treatment before the end of the year and not jamming up the schedule the last few weeks of December.   Trust me -  given the right nudge, even David might just pull it together and come in in November … Ok, maybe early December.  Isn’t it worth a try?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Does your Continuing Care need a boost?

Do you wish sometimes that your computer system would think for you?
What if you could put your continuing care system on auto-pilot?  What if your patients just magically received a postcard reminding them of scheduled appointments?  What if an email miraculously appeared in their inbox when they are due to come in?  This isn’t magic . . . this is reality! 
With the Dentrix eCentral Communications Manager you can eliminate the need for that calendar on your desk – you know, the one you have to update on a weekly or monthly basis to remind you to send out those postcards.  While you’re at it, you can stop wasting time sifting through countless catalogs trying to figure out which postcards to purchase.  It takes about 10 minutes to setup a series of reminders and then let it run . . . automatically! 
Is the 10 minute set up really worth it?
Back in May, I was working with an office up in Anchorage, Alaska where the staff was struggling to keep their hygiene chair booked a week in advance.  Within just three months of implementing the eCentral postcards and e-mail correspondence, their hygiene chair was booked out 3 weeks in advance! Needless to say, the doctor was ecstatic.  (By the way, they also added the text messages, and their no-show rate dramatically improved).
So let’s say I spring for the 10 minutes and get set up – what is it going to take to keep up with eCentral?
Even though my Continuing Care correspondence system is automated and I rarely think about it, I do like to go through and update it once in a while.  One of the awesome features of the eCentral e-mail and postcard program is that there are so many templates to choose from and you can customize them.  I like to change my templates with the seasons, so in a few weeks I will go in and add some fall or winter scenes to keep our look fresh and new.  If you want to play with customizing your text content to give it a personal touch, you can do it using the merge fields in the e-mail templates, (just like those in Dentrix quick letters).  I have found though, that the Dentrix default text doesn’t need too much doctoring up. 
Think simple and clear
I believe that you need to keep things simple and give clear instructions.  Our patients have simple questions, like: “when do I need to be at my appointment?” and “what do I need to do next?” Why not help them out by being super-clear about what you want them to do.  Do you want your patient to call to confirm?  Or, do you just want them to click on the confirm button at the bottom of the e-mail so that the status will automatically change in the appointment? (No joke – the appointment will change to ‘FIRM’ when the patient clicks on the confirm button)  Or, is this e-mail for a past due patient and you want her to call to schedule an appointment for a professional cleaning?  Once you are clear on what you want, you can express it to patients clearly and simply. 
Below is a sample of what an appointment confirmation e-mail might look like to one of your patients. 

In this example, I kept the merge fields intact and just added the sentence “Please click on the CONFIRM button at the bottom of this e-mail or call 360-221-6373 to confirm your appointment.   Remember to take your medications as usual the day of your visit.”  As you can see it is very professional, clear, and easy to read and our patients all understand the directions. 
With the eCentral Communication Manager you can not only automate your delivery method for postcards, e-mails and text messages, but customize the text for your e-mails to give it a more personal feel.   Give it a try – like the happy folks in Anchorage, I think you’ll discover that increased retention rate plus fewer no-shows equals the kind of bottom-line booster that will lighten up some serious smiles around your office.