Monday, December 31, 2012

The Top 10 Most Read Blogs


As I conclude my first full year writing the Dentrix Office Manager Blog, I thought it would be interesting to do a year-end wrapup of the Top 10 most read blogs since I began writing in this space. Here are the topics that you, my loyal readers, have read the most, along with snippets of each blog.
 

1.       Fee Schedules . . . The Method of Choice for PPO Plans     As I said in my last post, using Dentrix’s Fee Schedules takes a little bit of management but produces huge benefits! I am amazed at how many offices don’t know this Dentrix feature exists for setting up and managing fee schedules. If you are in one of those offices, it’s time to find it and use it – you’ll be so glad you did. Let’s walk through it together so that you can start seeing those benefits sooner than later.   Click here to read more . . .

2.       The 5 Minute Morning Huddle  Does this sound familiar? You walk into the office in the morning, say “good morning” to all your team mates and put your lunch in the fridge. The hygienists are busy sharpening their instruments for a day of root planing and scaling, the doctor is in the lab finishing up that nightguard that is due at 8:00am and the dental assistants are setting up trays for the day making sure all the lab cases are in.  Click here to read more . . .

3.       The New Patient Experience . . . the initial telephone call You know that old saying: “You never have a second chance to make a first impression”? Well that old saying still means a lot in this day when exceptional customer service is so hard to find. How your front office team handles the very first phone call from a new patient not only establishes the patient’s perception of how his or her visit will go, it even impacts the likelihood that they will refer their friends and family. Click here to read more . . .

4.       Does your Continuing Care Need a Boost?    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! Click hereto read more . . .

5.       A Little Known Secret If you are transitioning from paper to paperless, do you find that you are scanning paper all the time? Does the paper pile up in the “to be scanned” box and sit there, just waiting for someone to have free time to take care of it? When I work with offices on their paper storage management, I am surprised by how many offices don’t know about the “Send to Dentrix Document Center” feature. I actually received two e-mails about it this week so I thought I would “shout it out” to all of you. Click here to read more . . .

6.       The 5 Stats Every Office Should Monitor When I say “monitor,” I don’t mean you write the numbers down on your spreadsheet, stick it in the 3-ring binder, and forget about it. I mean you are writing it down, discussing it with your doctor, talking about it with your team, and coming up with strategies as a team to improve it or high-fiving each other because you are exceeding your expectations. Numbers tell a story. The numbers help you reinvent systems, protocols, and campaigns. Click here to read more . . .

7.       Don’t Let Unused Insurance Benefits go to Waste September is the perfect time to send out a reminder to your patients who have unused dental insurance benefits. Sending it out now will hopefully get patients to call in sooner instead of waiting until the middle of December when it gets down to crunch time on the calendar. There are two different methods I am going to talk about today: using your Dentrix software to create a mass merge letter and, for those of you using DemandForce, how to merge a list and send out an e-mail campaign. Click here to read more . . .

8.       Holes in your Doctor’s Schedule? What do you do when, during a patient’s continuing care appointment, the doctor diagnoses a tooth that needs a crown and the patient leaves without scheduling it? Have you ever wondered how much unscheduled treatment you have on your books, and how your team is following up on it? Looking for some new ways to reach out to your patients? Click here to read more . . .
 
9.       The Three Most Common Battles Between the Front Office and Back Office Scheduling is a chess game. It takes skill and planning to make just the right moves so that, at the end of the day, you’re not in checkmate with the entire team backing you into a corner, and you wondering what you did that caused total chaos. The schedule is the one thing in the dental practice that affects every team member, but running it properly is often not taken seriously. The problems I find in the dental practices I work with are completely fixable, with a little planning. Click here to read more . . .

10.   At Some Point We Need to Let the Patient Go Recently, I was in an office doing some training on the Practice Advisor Report and we were talking about the “Active Patient” count and how Dentrix comes up with that number. I informed them that, with the Practice Advisor Report, you determine the definition of an “active patient” using the amount of time it has been since the patient was in last for an appointment. This led to a new discussion of what was their protocol for patients who haven’t been in for 18, 24, or even 60 months? We ran a search of patients with a last visit date of more than five years ago and the list had more than 700 patients on it. They were shocked! Click here to read more . . .


If you have a topic that you would like me to write about, or a dilemma you wish you could solve in your practice, drop me a line at Dayna@raedentalmanagement.com.

 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

What is the Status of the Lab Case?


Do any of these lab-related scenarios ever happen in your office?

·         You call to confirm a patient for tomorrow, only to be told later that the lab case is not in the office and you have to reschedule the patient.

·         The lab case was never sent out.

·         UPS, FedEx, or the Postal Service lost the patient’s case and you have no way of tracking it.

·         You are trying to fill an opening in your schedule for tomorrow, but you have to go into the back and find the spiral-bound notebook containing the log of all the lab cases to find out if the case is back so you can call the patient.

Do you wish you had a better system for managing the lab cases in your office? The Dentrix Lab Case Manager can help with all the above scenarios. It is easy to set up, easy to use, and will help you and your team communicate better about lab cases and, in turn, help your office run more efficiently. When I say help your team communicate better, I am talking about non-verbal communication … you don’t even have to talk to get an answer to your lab-related question. With the Lab Case Manager, you can see right from the patient’s appointment if the case is out or in, check the due date, check what lab it went to, and check the status of it with the tracking number. I am amazed that more offices are not utilizing it.

To use Lab Case Manager, you must first set up your labs. Go to the Appointment Book and click on the Lab Case Manager icon (click stop if it starts loading). Before Dentrix will allow you to enter a lab, you must first create shade guides and shipping methods that will be attached to the labs. Select Shade Guide and click add, then you can just type in “office default” or you can actually type in your shade guides here. Next, hit close, go back to setup, and select shipping method. Enter any type of shipping you use with your labs (UPS, FedEx, lab delivery, Postal Service, etc.). Click add and close, then open the Setup again and select Labs. This is where you will enter the list of labs with which you do business. Fill in the important information about your lab and, in the drop down menu in the upper right, select how this lab delivers cases to you. You are done with the basic setup.

I use the Dentrix Lab Case Manager in a very simple form — I check the case out and I check it in. If you want to get more detailed than that you can, but I am not going to go into that much detail in this blog (you can watch a webinar in the Dentrix Knowledgebase article # 45893 ). From the patient appointment box, put a check mark next to the Lab Case and click on the Patient Lab Cases button, then select Create Lab Case. In my opinion, the most important pieces of information are Lab, shipping method, tracking number (if there is one), and the Case #. Click OK, then select your case to link with this appointment. You can see in the picture below why I am having you put in a brief description of the case in the Case # box. Over time, a patient can have multiple cases and this will help you to select the right case for this appointment.
 
After you have created the case and attached it, a blue L with a white background will appear on the appointment. When the case is delivered, just double-click on the L on the appointment, double-click on the correct case in the list, and click on the Receive button on the lower left corner of the box and a new box will open. If you want to track the fee for this case, you can enter it in the upper right corner of this screen, then click OK. Now the white background will turn green and you know that the case is in.

If the case needs to be returned to the lab for any reason, just double-click on the L again, double-click on the case #, click on the Receive Case button in the lower left corner, and then check the box Return Case to Lab. The case will then turn back to a white background on your appointment book so you know the case has been sent back out of the office.

As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, the Lab Case Manager can improve your communication in your office for managing the patient lab cases. Communication does not always have to be face-to-face; it just has to be consistent.

Monday, December 10, 2012

At Some Point . . . we need to let the patient go


Recently, I was in an office doing some training on the Practice Advisor Report and we were talking about the “Active Patient” count and how Dentrix comes up with that number. I informed them that, with the Practice Advisor Report, you determine the definition of an “active patient” using the amount of time it has been since the patient was in last for an appointment. This led to a new discussion of what was their protocol for patients who haven’t been in for 18, 24, or even 60 months? We ran a search of patients with a last visit date of more than five years ago and the list had more than 700 patients on it. They were shocked!
So … do you have a protocol in place? Most offices don’t, yet knowing which patients are active or inactive can make a huge difference in your practice’s planning for increased productivity in 2013.
I think one of the most powerful features in Dentrix is the Continuing Care system. If you manage it correctly, no one will fall through the cracks. But, at some point, we need to let the patient go. I know it’s hard, but it must be done. Here’s what I suggest and you can tweak it as you want.

First, create a letter to send these patients and let them know you are concerned about their oral health and you want to make sure their dental needs are being met. The letter I use has three choices for the patient:

“I need to come in and here is my new phone number”
“I have changed dentists, so please send my X-rays to my new dentist”
“Please remove me from your active list”

The patient checks the appropriate box and sends the letter back to us in a provided self-addressed stamped envelope. If you want a copy of my sample letter with the merge fields already included, e-mail me directly at dayna@raedentalmanagement.com and I will send it in a Microsoft Word format.
After you have created your letter, you will need to add it into the templates in the Letters section on the Office Manager. Go to the Office Manager > Letters > Inactive Patients, then click “new” or edit one of the existing letters. If you need specific instructions on how to add a letter into the templates, e-mail me at the address above and I will send you a step-by-step info sheet.
Once your letter is ready, you can create the merge and send your letter. Now, if you have never sent out a letter merge like this, it could be quite a project so make sure you budget for letterhead, envelopes, labor, and postage.Trust me … the rewards are worth the time and effort. To merge the patients into the letter, go to the Office Manager > Letters > Inactive Patients > choose your letter and click edit, then next to the Last Visit Date select a date range of 01/01/1900 thru 2 years prior to today, then click OK. Next, click Create Merge and make sure you select Create Data File and Merge Letters and Add to Office Journal. Microsoft Word will then generate the letters. Now you can view and print. Here’s an important reminder … when you exit, DO NOT SAVE.
 
My suggestion is to run this letter merge every three months . . . but you aren’t done with this project yet. Sending the letter is just the first part. The patients who do not respond to your letter should be inactivated at this point. On your second inactive patient letter merge (and subsequent merges after that), you will then run a list of patients with a last visit date from your previous letter run (so your list will include patients two years and three months from today).To get this list, go back to the Office Manger > Letters > Inactive Patients > repeat the same steps … except after you select Create Merge, you want to open Data File Only, then click View List. This will give you a list of patients who have not come in since you sent them the letter. If they are not scheduled, I would inactivate their account.
Once you include this routine in your regular systems, it will become easier and take less time as the list of patients gets shorter and shorter. This system has been very successful in shaking up those patients who have ignored the phone calls, e-mails, and postcards. It can be a huge boost to your schedule as, once you have a more accurate “Active Patient” count, you can then project increasing or decreasing office hours or adding or subtracting hygiene days.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

New Patients Welcome . . .

Do you think you have to open the new patient account before you can send a professional, customized welcome letter?  If your answer is yes, think again.  Watch this instructional video and learn how to easily send new patient welcome letters.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Enjoy the Holiday . . . Gobble, Gobble!

If you know me personally you know how much I love food, both cooking it and eating it.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year because it includes my favorite things . . . cooking, eating, family and football.  I hope you enjoy this wonderful holiday and get to spend time doing your favorite things. 

Thank you for being loyal readers and all your great comments. 

Next stop . . . The Greater New York Dental Meeting.  Hope to see you all there.

Gobble, Gobble.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Looking ahead to 2013


We are coming down to the closing weeks of 2012 and many offices are already looking ahead to 2013 with new forecasts on production goals (I know my office is). My office in Washington state is currently going through a time of transition. We have a new practice owner and a new front office team member, so we have many changes ahead. One of the big changes is setting goals for production. My office has always used the goal feature in Dentrix. It allows the scheduling coordinators to see what we need to do in order to meet and exceed our projections, then we can use the Perfect Day Scheduling feature to map out our appointment book in a way that helps us meet our projections. When I enter the goals and then use the “view amount” feature, our front office team can easily make sure our office is scheduling to goal.

Here are my suggestions for your practice so you can start 2013 out right. First, in a planning meeting or regular team meeting, determine what the production goals are for your doctor(s) and hygienist(s) per day. Next, multiply this daily goal by the number of days worked to get a monthly goal that you can enter into your Dentrix software. When you have this number for each producer, go to the Office Manager > Analysis > Setup > Goals Setup where you will see a box that looks like this:

Click on the arrows next to the provider then click the box Read Selected Goals > click add and enter the month number (1=January, 2=February, etc.) and enter that provider’s monthly goal. When you have finished setting up all providers, click close and go back to the Appointment Book. Next, click on the view at the top of the page and edit the view. Make sure View Amount is checked and that you have selected the providers on the left side of the screen who are producers in your office and click OK. Now you should be able to see the amount that is scheduled for the day in the upper right corner of the appointment book.

Finally, if you want to help your team be more disciplined about scheduling to goal, using the Perfect Day Scheduling feature is a great way to accomplish this. Using Perfect Day Scheduling will help prevent unproductive appointments being scheduled in places that are reserved for more comprehensive treatment. My suggestion: If your doctor’s production goal is $5,000 per day, then you need to have at least five prep blocks set per day. These production blocks are set up in the Provider setup on the Appointment Book. Click on Setup > Provider Setup > select the provider and click setup, then add. See picture below.
 

With these helpful tips, your practice can start 2013 off on the right path and your team will have the necessary tools to schedule more productively.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The 5 Stats Every Office Should Monitor


When I say “monitor,” I don’t mean you write the numbers down on your spreadsheet, stick it in the 3-ring binder, and forget about it. I mean you are writing it down, discussing it with your doctor, talking about it with your team, and coming up with strategies as a team to improve it or high-fiving each other because you are exceeding your expectations. Numbers tell a story. The numbers help you reinvent systems, protocols, and campaigns.

I was recently working with a dental practice that has three front office team members. They each have a list of statistics they have to track on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. When they hired me to do some training, they wanted help with extracting information from their software so it would be easier for them to complete their time-consuming tasks. I was looking at the stats they were tracking and asked them two questions … “What do you all do with this information?” and “How do these numbers help your job, your practice, and your patients?” The answer from all three team members was the same — “I don’t know. The doctor just wants it.”

I recently had a similar conversation with a very good friend of mine. I asked her, “What does your doctor do with the information? Do you talk about it at the team meetings and discuss the numbers?” Her response was, “No, he just gives them to the consultant.”

Another situation I find is the office that doesn’t track anything at all. I have asked doctors on the spot what their Accounts Receivable number is and they can’t tell me. I have asked Financial Coordinators what the over-the-counter collections are for the office and they don’t know.

I find that there is a common disconnect here between just tracking stats and actually trending stats to use in your dental practice to help make it more profitable and productive. What I find with many offices is that the front office team spends hours throughout the month tracking statistics, give the numbers to the doctor, and never hears anything back. They then start the process over again the next month with the same result.

Like I said earlier, numbers tell a story. You need to be able to use the numbers to help write the next chapter and deliver an ending that is more predictable and not just leave your bottom line to chance. When I talk about trending versus tracking stats, I mean looking at numbers over a 3-month average rather than on a month-to-month basis. I have worked in the dental practice for more than 20 years, so I know that every office can have a bad month, but if you track the statistics on a 3-month average, you can get a better picture of the health of the practice.

Monitoring the gross/net production and collection numbers goes without saying, so what other numbers do I recommend to offices they monitor?

1.       Over-the-Counter Collections – I am a big enforcer of collecting over the counter and I want offices to track this number very closely. Your money is worth more today than it is 30 or 90 days from now and it makes a huge impact on the bottom line of the practice. This might sound high to you, but I want to see OTC at 45-55% for fee-for-service practices. Getting to this number starts with the new patient phone call and training patients that payment is due at the time of service, then continues with the treatment plan presentation when creating a financial arrangement that conforms to this philosophy. Finally, at the time of the appointment when your patient is checking out, your team must have the language skills needed to ask for payment before the patient leaves. My recommendation with your practice management software is to have separate payment types for OTC cash, OTC check, and OTC Visa/MC so you can easily separate out this number for reporting. In Dentrix, follow these recommendations for helping you extract this number more easily and accurately.

a.       Create separate payment types for OTC cash, OTC check, and OTC credit card. This way when you need to run reports, it will separate this information out.

b.      The Practice Advisor Report will keep track of this number for you without you having to do any manual calculations.

2.       Net New Patients – Notice the word “net.” Many of the offices I work with are very proud and brag about the number of new patients they get every month until I ask for the number of patients who leave each month. They then look at me like I came from outer space. If you are getting 30 new patients a month but have 20 patients leaving every month, you really only have 10 new patients. Now it doesn’t sound so good, does it? I don’t mean to burst your bubble, but it is important to know why your patients are leaving and how you can use this information to retain patients in the future. My recommendation is to follow up with your patients who are leaving with an exit phone call and try and find out the reason for the transfer. If it is a reason you can prevent in the future, this will help your “net” new patient number improve.

a.        Dentrix will keep track of new patients for you (by first visit date). You can run a New Patient List or the Practice Advisor Report will track this number as well. What you will need to keep track of manually is the number of patients leaving the practice in order to get the “net” new patients.

3.       % of perio production to overall hygiene production – The hygiene department is an important piece of the dental team and we need to keep a close eye on what is being scheduled out of this chair. I find the most common problem is lack of diagnosing in periodontal therapy. If your hygiene department is producing less than 30% in perio services, I would seriously consider an evaluation with an experienced hygiene productivity coach. If you need a referral, contact me directly.

a.       To get this number from your Dentrix reports, you will need to run a Practice Analysis Report by procedure code and filter it from D4341 to D4910 then divide this number by your overall hygiene production

4.       Unscheduled time units – This number can go up and down, especially depending on the time of year. Offices tend to see more unscheduled time units during the summer months because people want to play hooky in the sunshine. Therefore, it is important to trend this number over a 3-month average just like all the other statistics. If you have more than 3 units of unscheduled time in the hygiene department per day, then you may want to look at new ways of making sure patients understand how important it is to keep their appointments. If patients are skipping out on their hygiene appointments, it could be because they don’t consider their oral health a priority so it is important for the hygienist to plant a seed that the patient will remember. For example … “If that pocket on that upper right tooth doesn’t improve, we may need to refer you to a specialist or we need to watch that crack on tooth #4 very closely.” Patients could also skip out on their appointments because they know that if they call, they can get in within a couple of days. After all, they’ve done it before. To stop this from happening, the front office must have verbal skills ready to deal with these habitual schedule changers.

a.       The Practice Advisor Report will track this number automatically for you. Make sure that you have your Appointment Book set up with the office hours and days open, as well as the Provider hours and days set up properly. If you need help with this, open up the help icon inside the Practice Advisor Report and it will walk you through it.

5.       Accounts Receivable – Back in the day, it wasn’t uncommon for the dental office to carry balances a lot more than they do today. With today’s economy and uncertainty in employment, you need to be a little more cautious about extending a payment plan. In today’s environment, this number should trend under a month’s production (when you take your total accounts receivable and divide it by your total month production, it should be less than 1). It is also extremely important to monitor not only your positive accounts receivable but also your credit balances. I don’t know the laws in your state, but here in Washington we must report and send any non-active credit balances to the Department of Revenue and they will list it up on their unclaimed property report.

a.       The Practice Advisor Report will track your Accounts Receivable for you. You can also run the Provider A/R Totals report or an Aging Report for this information.

Over the years working in the dental practice, I have tracked and monitored many more numbers than the five I just listed, but these are the big ones. These are the numbers that can be influenced with minor changes in financial policies or language skills that will have a big impact on the health of the practice. Check with your practice management software and see if you can pull these numbers directly out of your computer software. If not, you might need to create your own spreadsheet to keep track. However you are able to get the numbers, start reading the story. Then you can write the chapters and create a bestselling book for your office.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Everybody loves a shortcut . . .


One thing I love about Dentrix is that there are several ways to accomplish the same thing. What do I mean? Every Dentrix module has a toolbar at the top with icons (I know you might not be able to tell exactly what some of the icons are, but you eventually memorize them). For every icon, there is also a dropdown menu where you can find what you are looking for (just in case you prefer dropdown menus). If you’re a person who prefers “right clicking,” you can get the same dropdown menu in many places within Dentrix. Maybe you knew all of this … but did you know that there is a list of keyboard stroke shortcuts in Dentrix? Many people don’t know about this valuable time-saving “secret.”

Sometimes when I am training an office that is converting from a different software, they are comfortable using the keyboard and they get frustrated with Dentrix because it is so icon-driven. I usually send those offices the info sheet I have on using the keyboard strokes in Dentrix and they are happy once again. Seeing how happy these offices are with the shortcut info sheet, I wanted to share it with all of you just in case you like using the keyboard instead of icons.

In the Family File, Patient Chart, and Ledger modules, the following keyboard strokes work:

·         F1 – Help
·         F2 – Select Patient (in Appointment Book use SHIFT+F2)

In the Appointment Book, you can use the following:

·         F1, F2, F3, etc., switch between views you have setup on your workstation
·         SHIFT+F2 will select a patient
·         CTRL+W – changes to the Week View
·         CTRL+D – changes to the Day View
·         CTRL+U – with an appointment selected will open the Patient Picture

In the Office Manager:

·         F1 – Help
·         SPACEBAR – Selects and deselects highlighted items in the batch processor
·         SHIFT+END – Goes to the end of the print preview for multiple page documents – Yeah!!

In the Patient Chart (G2 or higher):

·         F1 – Help
·         F2 – Select Patient
·         F3 – Print Dental Chart
·         F5 – Refresh

Perio Chart

  • "B" on the keyboard for bleeding
  • "S" on the keyboard for Supperation (Pus)
  • "M" on the keyboard for Mobility, then select the correct grade
    • 0-4 using the keyboard
  • "P" on the keyboard for Plaque, then select the correct grade
    • 0 = None
    • 1 = Light
    • 2 = Moderate
    • 3 = Heavy
  • "L" on the keyboard for Bone Loss, then select the correct grade
    • 0 = None
    • 1 = Mild
    • 2 = Moderate
    • 3 = Severe
  • "F" on the keyboard for Furcation, then select the correct grade
    • 0 = No furcation involvement
    • 1 = Probe root indentation
    • 2 = Probe into furcation
    • 3 = Through furcation - soft tissue
    • 4 = Furcation open - void of soft tissue 


Happy Keyboard Pecking!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A lifeline to your patient info


Doctor, picture this scenario . . . You’ve just teed off on the second hole of your favorite golf course on a beautiful Saturday morning. Shortly after sending the ball 250 yards down the middle, you receive a phone call from the guy you opened up #31 on last week and he is now asking for a refill on his pain med. What would you do?

I don’t know about you, but most of the doctors I work with don’t keep an entire history of patient allergies, medications, or past appointments in the back of their minds that they can recall at any given moment. However, if you had your smartphone or iPad, you could get that information very easily and quickly, allowing you to phone in a refill for your ailing patient and get back to your golf game as soon as possible (and make a birdie after that nice drive). With the Dentrix Mobile app, you can log in and get the information you need to take care of your patient (who will be very grateful).

Providing optimal patient care and easily and quickly accessing patient information is what EHRs are all about. I was recently teaching a Dentrix seminar in Spokane and had a doctor sitting in the back of the room. At the break, he pulled me aside and asked me about Dentrix mobile. Since I have it on my phone, I was able to give him a little demo and show him how it could benefit him and his practice. It surprises me how many doctors don’t know about this amazing feature (and the best part . . . it costs you nothing extra if you are on a customer support plan)!

Dentrix mobile can also be a savior if your office has snow days or suffers from power outages (something to think about with winter weather approaching). You can log into your practice, see who is on your schedule, and let them know your office is not open and you will call them back when you return to the office. This prevents patients from braving the elements to make their appointment only to find out your practice is closed. Also, with the holidays right around the corner, many offices will be closed for vacations. Having that lifeline with Dentrix mobile can save you from having to go in to the office just to look up patient information. I know I would much rather spend my time with that turkey sandwich watching football than driving into the office to find out my patient’s prescription history and allergies.

For more information on Dentrix mobile, call (800) 734-5561 or click here to go straight to the Dentrix website.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

This Halloween help "Stop Zombie Mouth"

Quick ... which do you think your pediatric patients would choose ... a piece of candy or a free video game? The folks at Seattle's PopCap Games already know the answer, and they are ready to help your patients avoid "zombie mouth" as we draw ever closer to Halloween.
 

I recently had the chance to visit PopCap Games and hear first-hand about this great promotion. PopCap has teamed up with the American Dental Association to give out 1 million packs of "Plants vs. Zombies" trading cards, and each pack has a code for a free video game. Your dental office can be a part of the promotion, and it costs your practice nothing. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO. Just think how you could be "the coolest dental practice on the block" by giving your pediatric patients a free video game while not handing out another sticky, sugary treat to your customers.

If you are attending the ADA convention this week in San Francisco look for their booth and order your free kits for your office.  I ordered 4 boxes for my office and invited all kids to stop by and pick up their Halloween treat . . . no appointment necessary. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Fee Schedules - your questions answered



I have received the same questions from several different dental offices lately on the use of Fee Schedules so I thought I would put this video together to show you the answers to the questions I have received.  If you are looking for more detailed information on using fee schedules in your office, refer back to the blog I wrote "Fee Schedules - The Method of Choice for PPO Plans" or "Fee Schedules or Write Off's - that is the question".



 

CLICK HERE to check out the PPO Analyzer report for Dentrix
 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Proper Ergonomics = Healthy Hygienists

Throughout this month, you’ll see plenty of pink ribbons as October is widely known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In addition to acknowledging this important cause, October is also National Ergonomics Month, which can be an equally important message for any member of the dental team.

With ergonomics in focus this month, I wanted to share a video interview I conducted with Mary Govoni at the recent Speaking Consulting Network meeting in Charleston, S.C. Mary is one of the dental industry’s leading experts on the importance of proper ergonomics in the dental office, and a champion of proper positioning throughout the work day as she has seen first-hand how poor posture and working conditions has shortened the careers of many dental professionals.

In this video, Mary shares some great tips on staying healthy through proper ergonomics in the dental practice, including how scheduling can make a difference. Click below to watch our video interview.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Three Most Common Battles Between the Front Office and Back Office

The battle of the appointment book
Scheduling is a chess game. It takes skill and planning to make just the right moves so that, at the end of the day, you’re not in checkmate with the entire team backing you into a corner, and you wondering what you did that caused total chaos. The schedule is the one thing in the dental practice that affects every team member, but running it properly is often not taken seriously. The problems I find in the dental practices I work with are completely fixable, with a little planning.
Ø  Front office: “Too many people are scheduling appointments, and my appointment book is a mess.”

My first response to this is, “Well, it’s not your appointment book. It belongs to the entire office, but you can take back control of it.” I think it’s a good thing to have clinical teams that can multitask and schedule appointments; they just need direction. You, as scheduling coordinators, need to tell them what can be scheduled where. The clinical team does not have time (or the visual skills) to look over four to eight columns of treatment rooms to see if patients are scheduled in the appropriate place. Map out the appointment book for your clinical team so they can schedule an appointment easily and correctly.

Most practice management software has a way of preblocking areas of the appointment book so that the team can quickly see open spots that fit the parameters of an appointment they need to schedule. Some examples for preblocking are emergency time, crown seats, ortho checks, and other nonproductive appointments. These nonproductive appointments are important to block time for because they should not be scheduled in high productive time blocks. If a clinical team member does not know where to schedule a crown seat, he or she will just stick it wherever … and you know that will cause a problem between the front office and the back office. If you map out your appointment book and your clinical team sticks to the plan, you will not hear, “She just didn’t schedule that there, did she?” in your office anymore.

Ø  Back office: “All the front office is concerned about is production, and I need to get this patient in this week.”
This is a tough one because you are responsible for taking care of your patients’ needs and making sure the office reaches its production goals. Like I said, it’s not your appointment book; it belongs to the entire team. This applies to the clinical team as well. If you have a patient in your chair who requires an appointment this week and there is not a preblock that fits your needs, then it is up to you to talk to your scheduling coordinator. If you and your scheduling coordinator can look at the appointment book together and she understands the importance of scheduling the patient in this week, then the two of you can come up with a solution together. The scheduling coordinator can make adjustments in her goals for the rest of the month to make up for the disruption in her initial plan.

There will always be exceptions, even when you have your schedule mapped out. When the front office and the back office can discuss it, the magic can happen and the teams can schedule together harmoniously.  Read entire article CLICK HERE

Monday, September 17, 2012

Don't Let Unused Insurance Benefits go to Waste

September is the perfect time to send out a reminder to your patients who have unused dental insurance benefits. Sending it out now will hopefully get patients to call in sooner instead of waiting until the middle of December when it gets down to crunch time on the calendar. There are two different methods I am going to talk about today: using your Dentrix software to create a mass merge letter and, for those of you using DemandForce, how to merge a list and send out an e-mail campaign.
If you want to send out a letter to patients, Dentrix has a default letter in the “Letters” drop-down menu in the “Miscellanous” tab on the Office Manager (see the picture below). After you have selected the letter, click on “Edit” so you can select the parameters you want. In the picture below, Figure 1 shows you the letter name that is located in your Dentrix Doc folder. If you want to edit the template of the letter, click on “open template” and you can change the text of the letter. Then, in Figure 2, you can filter the list by procedures codes listed in the patient’s treatment plan and the date when the procedures were added to the patient’s treatment plan.  Also, click on the Dental Ins >> to sort for patients with remaining insurance benefits.  After you have completed this, click OK and then “create merge” and it will search your patient database and merge any patients who meet the criteria into the letter. Voila!


If you are using DemandForce for your e-mail and text messaging, you can also merge a list into its system if you don’t want to send a letter. Here is how I did it:
In Dentrix, open the Treatment Manager Report (for more information on this report read my blog "Holes in your doctors schedule?"), then select the criteria for which you want to search. My suggestions would be (see below):
1.       Select Patient – this way you will not get anyone in the list who has been inactivated
2.       Select Primary – this way it will only search patients who have insurance
3.       Procedure code date range - search for current treatment plans – my recommendation would be this year
4.       Search for a minimum amount of insurance benefits left – my recommendation would be $500
Next, click OK to generate your list. Once you have a list, you can merge this list into Microsoft Excel. Click on File > Copy to Clipboard, then open up Excel and click “paste.” Now you have a list that you can sort through before you merge it into DemandForce. My suggestion would be to take anyone off the list who is either currently in treatment, a collection problem, or told you not to call him or her until after the 1st of the year.
In your DemandForce portal, if you go to the “Campaigns” tab and scroll to the bottom, you will see “Upload List.” Click there, then click on “Upload Instructions.” This will give you step-by-step instructions on how to save the Excel document in the correct format and upload it into DemandForce. You can then send out a mass e-mail promotion to your patients.
I hope you have a full and productive schedule through the end of the year!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Expand your Digital Future

I was honored to speak at the AADOM (American Association of Dental Office Managers) annual meeting in Scottsdale over the weekend. For those of you who could not attend, I encourage you to make the trip to next year’s meeting in Orlando, Fla. For more information on AADOM, click here.
This year, my topic was Expand your Digital Future with Dentrix eServices.” In case you missed it, here is a recap.
Today’s dental practices are looking for ways to replace their paper records and forms with digital records and electronic communications, streamline their workflow, reduce waste and clutter, increase productivity and improve profitability. How can Dentrix eServices help you with this?
Ø  Create more hours in your week by eliminating the busywork
o   Save yourself countless hours by allowing Dentrix to print, stuff, stamp, and mail your patient billing statements. By using Quickbill, you stay in control of who gets a statement while avoiding the busywork.  Click here for more information on Quickbill.
o   When you receive electronic address corrections, the Dentrix software will automatically merge this new information with your patient’s Family File, saving you time.
o   Eliminate your recare calendar and let Dentrix automatically generate your patient postcard reminders, e-mail confirmations, and text message alerts. Now you don’t have to spend time creating the merge files, printing the postcards, and sending them out.  Check out eCentral Communication Manager by clicking here to be directed to the website.
o   Stop spending time sitting on hold, getting lost in the insurance phone tree or navigating around a separate website to check on patient eligibility or claim status.  By using the Insurance Manager feature with eCentral you won’t have to.  If you want more information click here.

Ø  Increase profitability with smarter workflow and reducing paper inventory
o   With electronic communications and billing statements, you don’t have to stock expensive paper forms, envelopes, and postcards. The office will appear less cluttered (and you could probably use the added storage space).
o   Cut down on the amount of postage you are using. Postage is included in the price of Quickbill and eCentral.
o   Reduce printing costs when using electronic forms because you can just edit them within your Dentrix software for FREE!
o   Save on the cost of paper charts and storage space with a digital patient record.
Ø  Create a better work environment for you and your team
o   If you had a few hours added back into your weekly routine, what would you want to do with this new-found time?
§  Develop new marketing ideas to attract new patients?
§  Start a social media campaign for your office?
§  Take on more responsibility, like the accounts payable or payroll?
§  Do some public speaking in your community on the importance of oral health?
§  Or just cut back your hours?
o   Streamline the tasks for you and your team.
With Dentrix eServices, the possibilities are endless. Use them to create a practice that will make your patients’ lives easier … and make it easier for them to brag about you to their friends. Technology, when used efficiently, can improve life at your practice in so many ways.