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.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

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.
The “Send to Dentrix Document Center” feature was added when with the enhanced Document Center upgrade in G3. It is a printer driver that is installed during the upgrade and will add a line item within your list of printers. You select it just as if you were going to print, but it is a “virtual print” so it doesn’t appear to do anything … but it does, and what it does will amaze you.
For example, let’s say you receive a letter from one of your referring dentists, updating you that your patient has had the implant placed and it is ready for restoration. This letter is either a Word document or a PDF file. Open the letter > click on file > print and select the Send to Dentrix Document Center and click print.
Next, open the patient’s Document Center, then click on the icon for Unfiled Documents on the acquire toolbar. This will open a new window and will possibly have a list of dates, which indicate that documents that have been sent to the Dentrix Document Center. Select the document you want to move into this patient’s document tree and drag it over. After you have dragged and dropped it, a new window will open up and ask you to select in which folder to place the document as well as a description of the document. Done . . . no printing, no scanning, and no shredding!

This technique works well with e-mail, electronic EOBs, treatment plan estimates, and anything else you can print. Try it, you’ll love it!