Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Your Active Patient Base may not be accurate

We are coming to the close of 2015 and I would like you all to start thinking about planning for next year and what that might look like. However, before we can start looking at annual planning for next year, we need to continue focusing on this year and really critiquing the numbers. If you have been reading my blog posts for a while, you know that I talk a lot about how numbers tell a story and having accurate numbers is extremely important in analyzing the health of your practice.

If you are using the Practice Advisor Report on a monthly basis for analyzing, managing, and forecasting your key performance indicators (KPI) … congratulations! If you are not yet using this amazing tool, you can read up about it by CLICKING HERE. Learning how to make the numbers on this report as accurate as possible is the key to using this report to its fullest potential.

There is one number on this report that could be skewed, depending on how you deal with your missed and broken appointments. I realize that the ADA CDT coding came out recently with procedure codes for Missed Appointment (D9986) and Cancelled Appointment (D9987). However, I am urging you not to use them. When you post a procedure code to the patient’s ledger, it automatically updates the patient’s last visit date. So if you post a D9986 to the ledger to note that the patient missed an appointment today, the family file Last Visit Date will still get updated to today. This last visit date number is used on the Practice Advisor report to calculate your Active Patient Base. You might be asking, “Well, Dayna, how would you suggest we track missed appointments?” I’m glad you asked! Here are some suggestions . . .

·        Use an adjustment code instead. You can have a maximum of 40 adjustment types listed in the definitions so if you have not met this max, then this would be my first choice. If you have maxed out on adjustment types, then I would look to see if you have any duplicates that you can combine together and then add two new ones. With an adjustment, you can post a $0 amount just to document it or you can post a dollar amount to show the fee. This would need to be a + adjustment type.

·        Make sure you are using the Break Appointment feature and not the delete appointment when a patient misses an appointment. When you break an appointment, it will make a note on the Office Journal and update the missed appointments on the Family File.  The Practice Advisor Report will also calculate your lost revenue from broken appointments.

·        Document a missed appointment in the Clinical Note. Now this will not give you a searchable code to look for, but it will give you the documentation in case the patient becomes a risk or argumentative about missed appointments. You can always print the clinical notes if needed.

Like I said, “Numbers tell a story.” If you want an accurate Active Patient Base count, stop posting a procedure code to the ledger when the patient does not keep his or her appointment. If you would like to learn more about the Practice Advisor Report, here are some other blog posts on numbers . . .

Do you know how many patients are leaving your practice?  CLICK HERE
The 5 Stats Every Office Should Monitor . . .  CLICK HERE

Monday, November 16, 2015

Four ways you can import a patient picture into Dentrix

You step into your reception room to bring your patient, Carrie, into the treatment room and you realize there are two patients sitting there who are about the same age. Who is Carrie? You have never met her so you just throw her name out there and see who responds. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could prepare yourself a little bit more by having a current picture of Carrie?

There are a few different ways to pull in a picture of your patients, depending on which imaging software you are using and if you want to use a webcam. There is an icon on your toolbar for Patient Picture, which has four options for importing your patient picture.
  • If you have a webcam installed on your front office computer, you can use the Acquire feature and select the webcam or iPad to take a picture. I have an office that has started using an iPad as their webcam and it is working great.
  • Many practices are using a digital camera for intraoral images and saving the images in some kind of image gallery software. If you know the location of the images, you can use the Import from File feature to pull in your patient picture.
  • For the offices that are using DEXIS, using the Copy from Clipboard feature is the easiest feature to use in my opinion. From your Dentrix patient chart, double click on the image you want to use as your patient picture (many of my offices are using their intraoral camera to take a face shot), then click on the arrow on the top toolbar and click on copy to clipboard. Then, open the Patient Picture icon and click on Paste from Clipboard.
  • For the offices that are not using DEXIS for your imaging software, using the Screen Capture feature to acquire the patient picture will be the best option for you. Open your imaging software so you have the picture you want to import in view, then open the Patient Picture icon in Dentrix. Click on the Screen Capture feature and your cursor will change shape so you can make a box around the picture and it will appear in the Patient Picture window.

Click Save and you now have a current snapshot of your patient. This will eliminate the guesswork when you walk out to the reception room to summon your patient.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Top 10 features in Dentrix you are not using

In 2003, my dental practice converted from an archaic DOS-based dental software to the impressive and robust Dentrix practice management software. To say the least, I was completely overwhelmed. Two years later, in 2005, I still felt like I hadn’t even scratched the surface of my new powerful software’s potential so I applied to become a Certified Dentrix Trainer in order to learn everything there was to know about the Dentrix program. What better way to learn than to get a certificate?

Now I know that not everyone has the opportunity to become a Dentrix trainer like I did, but with a little self-motivation and some tips from me, you will be well on your way to being a “Dentrix super user.” Since I am working with dental practices every day, I have the unique opportunity to see what features they are using, what features they are not using, and what features they have no idea even exist. My goal today is to give you my top 10 you might not even know exist.
  1. Quick Letters and Letter Merge – Maybe this sounds familiar . . . you have a folder on your desktop with all of your office’s letters you send out to patients, including collection letters, welcome letters, and letters to specialists. When it is time to send a letter, you edit the date, enter the patient’s name, address, and salutation, then sign the letter and scan it into the document center. That process sounds like a lot of work to me. Why not add your custom letters into the Quick Letters or Letter Merge with the proper merge fields and let Dentrix do all the work for you? The best part is it will automatically put a note on the Office Journal and you can “Send to the Dentrix Document Center” without scanning (see #5 on the list).  Here are some more blog posts related to this feature . . .
    1. Send letters that make an impact . . . CLICK HERE
    2. Can you write me an excuse note . . . CLICK HERE
  2. Dentrix Mobile – Have you ever been sitting in the comfort of your home watching the weather forecast and hoping that the power doesn’t go out … then suddenly there’s nothing but darkness. You check the office and the power is also out there … so how are you going to let your patients know not to come in? Has your doctor ever been out of town and received a call from a patient requesting a drug refill but he or she has no way of checking the last prescription or the patient’s last visit unless he or she goes into the office? Both of these two common scenarios can be solved just by registering for Dentrix Mobile. It’s included in your Dentrix customer support plan so there is absolutely no excuse for not using this service.
    1. Three reasons you should be using Dentrix Mobile . . . CLICK HERE
    2. A lifeline to your patient info . . . CLICK HERE
  3. Payment Agreements – I wrote an article called “Get it out of your head and into the computer” back in April 2014. The theme of the article was speaking to office managers who store all their verbal payment agreements in their head. What I am seeing is this is still happening, but I am also seeing new doctors purchasing practices with a significant amount of the accounts receivable over 90 days past due or new office managers taking over a practice where there has been no management of the accounts receivable. Using the Payment Agreement feature in Dentrix will not only help you get organized with patients who are making payments, but also allow the entire team to see on the ledger what the arrangement is with the account.
    1. Two options to help you manage your A/R . . . CLICK HERE
    2. Get the info out of your head and into the computer . . . CLICK HERE
  4. Tracking Gratuities and Referrals - Do you know where your new patients are coming from? Are they hearing about you from friends, Google Search, or the ValPak flyer that cost you $15,000 to send out? Your marketing dollars depend on where patients are being referred from so you should know where to continue spending money and where to stop. When a patient refers a new patient, do you give him or her a thank you gift? Would you like to track if you gave the referral source a Starbucks or Home Depot gift card last time or be able to track a referral source’s gratuity history? Tracking referrals and gratuities in Dentrix is super easy and gives the doctor a lot of good information about where to spend marketing dollars … but I find most offices never use this useful tool.
    1. Building relationships one referral at a time . . . CLICK HERE
    2. Keep tight reins on your referred patients . . . CLICK HERE
  5. Sending to the Dentrix Document Center – This will save your team a ton of time in unnecessary scanning, unnecessary wasted paper, and unnecessary hard drive storage space. When you scan a document into the Document Center, it takes many more steps and the file size of a scanned document is about 100 times larger (just a guess) than that of a file send electronically through the Dentrix Document Center printer driver. Anything you want to print can be virtually printed to the Document Center for file storage. This is such an amazing yet underused feature.
    1. A little known secret . . . CLICK HERE
  6. Perfect Day Scheduling – Close your eyes for a moment and imagine if you could see your patients on time, complete 80% of your production goal before lunch, get out for lunch on time, and finish your day without pulling the roller skates out of the closet. This can be a reality if you create it. Take control of your appointment book with Perfect Day Scheduling. When you use perfect day scheduling, your team knows exactly how to schedule because you have mapped it out for them. There is no room for error.
    1. What if everyday could be a perfect day . . . CLICK HERE
    2. The new patient experience, scheduling the appointment . . . CLICK HERE
  7. Goal Tracking – Every dental practice has production and collection goals they need to meet in order to keep the financial state of the business healthy. I always encourage doctors to share these goals with the team and be transparent with the key performance numbers with the team. There are several places in Dentrix to watch and monitor your practice goals so the team can strategize and work together on exceeding the goals. You can monitor your goals on the monthly calendar, Practice Advisor Report, and the Daily Huddle.
    1. Let's do some goal setting . . . CLICK HERE
    2. Looking ahead to  . . . CLICK HERE
  8. More Information Button – Have you ever been on the phone with a mom and she wants to know when her three kids and husband are scheduled next for all their future appointments … but you’re not sure what’s the most efficient way to find all these appointments for the entire family? Try the More Information button and I can guarantee you will fall in love with this super quick search tool. You can find the More Information feature on all Dentrix modules. When you are selecting a patient anywhere in Dentrix, you will see it at the lower left corner of the window.
  9. Create Batch of Primary Dental Claims – Are you sure you have batched and sent off all your insurance claims from last week? How about last month? Use this second pair of eyes to double check and make sure all your claims have been sent out. Not only will this give you peace of mind, but also keep your accounts receivable out of the 90-day past due column.
    1. Are all your insurance claims going out . . . CLICK HERE
  10. Patient-Friendly Descriptions – Do your patients often ask what a “resin 2surf, post” or a “Crown-porc fused noble metal” is? Or is your practice in an area where English is not the primary language for many of your patients? If you would like to create a treatment plan that your patients would more easily understand and helps them understand what each procedure is, then start using patient-friendly descriptions. With Dentrix G6.1, it is even easier to use because you can edit these descriptions in the procedure code edit.
    1. No speak English, no worries . . . CLICK HERE

Have fun experimenting with these features and working toward increasing your level of efficiency and customer service. Drop me a line at dayna@raedentalmanagement.com if you have other questions. I’m happy to help.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Imagine if your patient could book a hygiene visit just like making dinner reservations?

I was in an office this last week that is using a web-based software solution for their email, text messaging, appointment reminders, and appointment requests. It integrates well with Dentrix. However, when a patient requests an appointment, it becomes a challenge communicating with the patient if the appointment time isn’t available in the Dentrix appointment book. Often, what happens is that the patient assumes he or she will get the time requested when probably 9 out of 10 times the office is fully booked during the requested time. Then the patient either shows up for the appointment anyway and has to be rescheduled or the patient is frustrated because the appointment time he or she wanted is not available. There is a big difference between requesting an appointment and online booking.

What if booking your dental visit was just like making dinner reservations through OpenTable? If the patient could see only open times, then it would eliminate the frustrations between the office and the patient when the patient requests an appointment time that is not available. I know that, with the office I was in last week, this would make a world of difference. The amount of emails and voicemails that were going back and forth to try and get this patient booked was extremely time-consuming.

Now close your eyes and imagine what it would look like if the email or text message continuing care reminder contained a link where the patient could book an appointment with his or her favorite hygienist on a day and time that not only worked for the patient but is also open in the office’s Dentrix appointment book. Keep your eyes closed for a minute and imagine that you are still in full control of the situation. Yes, you say what is open and what isn’t (I know this is important because I was a scheduling coordinator once J ).

Now open your eyes and let me bring you into reality with Dentrix Online Booking . . . launching in the first quarter of 2016. You can be a part of this technology movement by pre-registering for this service and receive 50% off the price. CLICK HERE to reserve your place in line.