I wrote an article titled “At some point we need to let thepatient go,” but does this mean the patient is inactive or should we archive him or her? What is the difference between a Non-Patient, Inactive, and Archived patient? Does your practice have its own definition or do you choose to just ignore it?
These questions come up a lot when I am working with dental practices on cleaning up their systems and putting effective systems in place for managing their active patient base. It is important to know what your active patient base is so you are not reaching out to patients who have either left the practice or died. Having reports and patient lists is important when you start following up with unscheduled treatment and overdue recare.
I would like to share with you not only the definitions of each patient status, but what my recommendation is for each.
· Non-Patient – This is a person who is either an insurance holder or a guarantor on a family account. This is not a person who comes to your office for dental care. Now this person could also have a patient account if he or she is only an insurance holder for another patient in your practice. For example, if mom is a patient with her two children and dad is the insurance subscriber, then mom would be the guarantor and dad would be a non-patient on the account.
· Inactive – This is where there it gets a little “gray.” If you mark a patient as inactive, he or she will still show up in all search results and you can still send out letters and generate reports. My opinion is that if you have exhausted all your resources by calling, sending letters, and emailing patients and they are not responding to you, then you should mark them as inactive. What inactive will do is at least remove them from the Continuing Care lists and you can unselect them from other management reports.
· Archived – If you archive a patient, then he or she is removed from all search results, removed from all Continuing Care, it erases all insurance information, and deletes any future appointments in the schedule. My opinion is that if patients have told you they are leaving or died, then archive them. If the patient who has left the practice decides to return, you can bring the account back to active status and re-enter the insurance and continuing care information.
Having a clean, accurate system helps with many things like patient count, unscheduled treatment numbers, and setting goals. I hope you will take some time and clean up your patient status and create systems in your practice using the definition of each status.
Dayna loves her work. She has over 25 years of experience in the dental industry, and she’s passionate about building efficient, consistent, and secure practice management systems. Dayna knows that your entire day revolves around your practice management software—the better you learn to use it, the more productive and stress-free your office will be. In 2016, Dayna founded Novonee ™, The Premier Dentrix Community, to help cultivate Dentrix super-users all over the country. Learn more from Dayna at www.novonee.com and contact Dayna at email@example.com.