Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Building relationships one referral at a time

I was in a dental practice recently and the topic of marketing came up. One of the team members I was training was not only the hygienist in the office but also the doctor’s wife. She wasn’t as interested in learning how to document a perio charting in the computer as she was how to attract new patients. Even though marketing typically isn’t my specialty, she asked me point blank, “What do you think is the best way to get more new patients?” My answer was, “I believe internal marketing is your best way to attract new patients.” I have worked in the dental practice for more than 20 years and our best patients come from referrals from other patients. Next, she wanted to know how to reward patients for referring. I replied, “You live in a small community, so what about giving your referring patient a gift card from one of your local merchants? It is a win-win. You have a new patient in your chair, your referring patient has some money to spend, and your local merchant will be happy that the money is staying in the community. You might even get some referrals from the local merchant.”

These conversations led us to the amazing feature in Dentrix that allows your office to not only track referring sources and referring patients, but also the gratuities you give to your referrals. If you offer a gift card to the local spa or hardware store down the street, you can document in the patient’s record the date it was given, the type of gift card, and the dollar amount. This will provide you with a comprehensive report of your most frequent referring patients. This will also work with referring doctors. If you are a specialty office and you rely heavily on other dentists referring to you for treatment, it is extremely important for you to acknowledge and thank those offices. At the end of the year when you are preparing your gift baskets, you can easily see which of your referring dentists will be receiving a box of goodies.

Tracking this information is very simple to do and it just takes a couple of clicks to enter this information into the patient record. When you are entering in the new patient information into the Family File, double click on the Refer From box. Next, click on the Refer To button and select if this patient was referred by a patient or Doctor/Other. After you have entered the referring source, click on the Analysis button and this opens the Gratuity details for this referring source. You can now enter a new gratuity, view the analysis history, or send this referring source an e-mail. One of the coolest features of this analysis is that it will put a note on the Office Journal for you (you all know how much I love the Office Journal).

Whether you are a specialty office or a general practice, this is a great way for you and your team to not only track your referrals but how often and how much you are rewarding them. This is another one of the nonverbal ways in Dentrix to communicate as a team and help build the relationships between our patients and referring doctors.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Introducing Dentrix Ascend . . . my favorite features

I am sitting on my flight home from the Chicago Midwinter meeting where Henry Schein announced the launch of their beta version of the new Dentrix Ascend web-based practice management software. While I was at Midwinter, I sat through three demos, grilled Adam and the team with questions, and then went to the Dentrix Ascend booth and played around with it on my own. Even though it is still in beta (the testing phase), I am extremely excited about this product and its potential to effectively manage the dental practice. Now, I am definitely not abandoning Dentix. Dentrix is by far the most robust, customizable, and comprehensive practice management system out on the market. However, the new Dentrix Ascend will become a part of my professional life.

I want to share with you what I saw and highlight some of the amazing features of Dentrix Ascend

  • GPS … which stands for Goals, Problems, and Solutions. This is freaking brilliant! On the office overview screen, the dashboard can be customized for your job description in the office. For example, if you are the financial/billing coordinator, your “dashboard” would show you problems that need attention – 3 unpaid claims, 2 claims unsent, 5 claims need attention, 4 unpaid accounts, etc. If you click on the unpaid claims, for example, the software would then forward you to the next screen to show you the unpaid claims. You could then click on each one and see exactly what the issue is. If the claim needed an X-ray, you could attach the X-ray right from that screen. The GPS eliminates you having to generate a report, research the problem, and then go to a different screen to solve it . . . the GPS technology guides you through it from start to finish.
  • NUI stands for Natural User Interface. This software is so smart that it starts to think for you. Using the NUI technology, the computer begins to recognize your behavior and the behavior of your insurance companies. For example, if Metlife usually pays your office at about 14 days, then the unpaid insurance claims for Metlife will show up on your list of problems at 15 days. No more having to print an Insurance Aging Report, calling the insurance company, or researching online.
  • Multi-location environment. Many of my offices have multiple locations and find it challenging to switch from one location to another. Dentrix Ascend makes it easy and seamless to switch between locations. Also, they have included “push notification” into the software. If you are scheduling an appointment from anywhere, the appointment book at the physical location will see the change immediately without delay.
  • Any computer, any tablet, any platform. Period! You can use Dentrix Ascend on a Mac or PC, iPad, tablet, or Linux (Jay’s favorite). All you need is Google Chrome and it works.
  • Patient-centered navigation. Once you have a patient selected, everything you need for that patient is on one screen. It is very clean, very detailed, and easy to find more information. When I was on my own using the software at the booth, I found the navigation to be extremely user-friendly. There were not a lot of excessive clicks or maneuvers.
  • All the eServices will be included. Not only will they be included, but you don’t have to run anything … everything processes behind the scenes. No need to watch and make sure your eClaims finishes processing or your upload is done because it is all done automatically.  
  • Ortho Max. Yeah!!!!! This is one small detail that will make a huge difference in the lives of the billing/insurance coordinators. Now you can separate out the general dentistry maximum from the orthodontic maximum and keep them both accurate. With so many offices doing Invisalign and Six Month Smiles, this will be a refreshing addition.
  • Multiple insurance plans for each patient. Patients can have up to 10 insurance plans. Not that we need that many, but it is nice to have that amount of flexibility.
  • Fee schedules are attached to the treating provider and not the primary provider. This is huge! For the offices that have multiple doctors, you will now have the ability to use different fee schedules for each provider and bill out the correct fee without any manual editing. For example, if you have one doctor who is PPO for five insurance plans and the other doctor is PPO for only one or if you have a specialist who comes into your office once a week, you can now bill out the correct fees based on who is treating the patient and not worry about forgetting to fix it on the patient’s ledger.
  • Patient appointments can be scheduled with two different providers. This will be extremely useful with hygiene visits where the patient will see the doctor and the hygienist. In the future, this feature will also allow you to bill out the exam to the doctor and the prophy to the hygienist.
  • Ledger has a statement view. Within the patient’s ledger, you can view the history in multiple ways (my favorite was the statement view). This will allow you to see exactly what the patient is looking at if he or she calls you with questions about the billing statement.
  • View the schedule by provider or operatory. You can organize your appointment book by the providers or by operatory. Also, you can rename the operatories at any time.

What do you think? Are you ready to become a beta tester for Dentrix Ascend? If I was still working in a dental practice full-time, I would love to be a beta tester for this amazing product. For more information on how your office can participate in this program, click here to be directed to the webpage.

Remember, some of the features I mentioned will be in future versions of the product. However, I was extremely impressed with the forward thinking of the Dentrix Ascend development team and the direction this software is heading. In the practice management world, Henry Schein will now have the best web-based software AND best in-house software available

Monday, February 11, 2013

Read your clinical notes like you use to

With more offices every day transitioning from paper charts to electronic charting, we need to find the most efficient ways to not only document in the clinical record and view the information without having to click all over the place. From my experience, most doctors and hygienists want to be able to review their patients’ charts for the day and be able to quickly see what was charged and read the clinical notes together on one screen (similar to what they could see in the old paper charts). Today, let me share a view in the Dentrix chart that does just this.

If you open the Patient Chart and click on the Progress Notes default chart view, you will be able to view a larger screen of the patient’s clinical notes.
Then, on the Progress Notes tab, make sure you have the Completed button selected. With the Clinical Notes and Expand Notes selected, it will combine the completed procedures with the clinical notes so you can see all of the information in one place.
This is a very efficient way to look back in history and review the clinical notes before the patient comes in (especially if you have been computerized for many years). This is also a great way for the doctor to quickly make sure the correct procedures were billed out and the clinical note is accurate.


Thursday, February 7, 2013

The PA x-ray . . . two ways

In the dental office, we are constantly taking X-rays. There is one X-ray, however, that serves multiple purposes . . . the PA. We take the single PA X-ray when a patient comes in for a toothache, we take several PAs during an endodontic procedure, and we also take PAs during our regular hygiene visits (usually in the form of a series).

When my office started using Dentrix, we were using the system with most of the defaults still in place such as the Appointment Reasons (the initial box in the appointment). This is the way we were taught and it seemed to work OK. Then, one day, my doctor asked me, “Why can’t I put the tooth number on the X-ray?” I wasn’t a Certified Dentrix Trainer at the time, so I replied, “Well, you just can’t.” The reason, I told him, was that if I attached the tooth number to the procedure code D0220, I would have to take it out of the list in the Initial box … and that wasn’t going to happen in my lifetime. Little did I know back then the amazing features available within the Dentrix software.

So how are we able to attach a tooth number to the PA for treatment and tracking purposes and leave the tooth number off for efficient scheduling within the initial box on the appointment? Read on . . .

I created a new procedure code and “faked” out the system. This way, I was able to use one PA code to attach the tooth number and one PA code that I could use for our regular hygiene visits.I was able to bill them both to the insurance and get paid. In the end, everyone was happy.

Start by going to the Office Manager > Maintenance > Practice Setup > Procedure Code Setup > click on new. This is where you will create a new procedure code for your PA X-ray. There are two differences between this code and your original PA code (see the screen shot below for a visual):
  1. The ADA code must be different. My suggestion is to put a period at the end of it since it is simple and the insurance won’t recognize it.
  2. In the drop down menu for Treatment Area, select either Mouth or Tooth. If you select Mouth, it will not ask for a tooth number when you post it, treatment plan it, or schedule it. If you select Tooth, the opposite will happen. My suggestion would be to assign the tooth number to your new code (D0220. so in my example below change it to tooth instead of mouth) because the initial reasons box for scheduling will not accept a procedure code that is five characters long.

Now everyone is happy. Our doctors can view a history in the patient chart for a particular tooth number and see exactly how many X-rays have been taken over a period of time. This will help with patient care and documentation purposes. This is especially important when you are going chartless because when a patient has a problem tooth, it is nice to be able to scroll though the notes and quickly see the history. Also, the scheduling coordinators are happy because they can still quickly select the exam, prophy, bwx, and PAs for the hygiene visits.