Is your office transitioning from paper charts to electronic health records? Do you feel like everyone in your office makes notes in totally random places in Dentrix and you can never find anything? Do you wish there was more consistency in your office? If you answered “yes” to any of the above, read on for some advice that can help you put your notes in order.
Let’s start with the Front Office . . .
Using the Office Journal for your front office communication can be a very powerful tool for documenting conversations with your patients. I recommend using the Office Journal for all phone conversations (non-clinical), collection calls, hygiene calls, and treatment follow-up calls, because it is easy to get to (you can get there from any Dentrix module, the Collections Manager Report, the Treatment Manager Report and the Continuing Care List) and it keeps a comprehensive log of patient correspondence. The Office Journal will also date and time stamp each note automatically so you can see exactly when the conversation happened, which staff member talked to the patient, and what was said.. This can really help when you have different staff members making calls to patients, because your staff can view each other’s notes and avoid duplicating each other’s efforts or making the patient angry with too many phone calls.
While the Office Journal is great for capturing a record of each communication event with a particular patient, it is not the best place to store information about your patient’s personal profile – you know, like who their spouse is, what their kids names are, and what big events are coming up for them. You don’t want to have to review a whole Journal of notes to get to this information – it is much more useful to have it in one place for quick review. So, for your patient profile information, I recommend using the Patient Note, located on the Family File. “The Patient Note!” should be your answer when the doctor asks, “Where should I make a note about the Johnson’s vacation to Hawaii?” Any notes entered here are only viewable on the Family File, however they will print out on the Dentrix route slip and when printing a patient notes report. (See my blog archive for information on the Patient Route Slip) As you use the Office Journal, the Patient Note, and the other notes that I’ll cover in upcoming posts, just remember: CONSISTENCY IS KEY! These guidelines can be a great starting point for getting everyone on board with one way of using your notes. You might even begin by printing this and sharing with your entire front office team. You could also put these suggestions in your office manual to refer back to for future use or new team member training.