Tuesday, December 27, 2016

New Associate? Get the setup right from the start

Do you have a new associate in your practice and not quite sure how to make sure the provider settings are correct? Let me help.

There are a couple of settings that you need to make sure are correct to avoid any delayed claims, rejected claims and provider payment allocation. Depending on if your new associate is paid on production or collection will determine how you should setup your default payment allocation. Also, it is important to know how Dentrix looks at the provider with some of the management reports.

  • The first thing you will set up is the provider ID in the Practice Resource Setup. This is where you will enter the NPI, Tax ID, DEA and provider license number. The doctor’s personal (Type I NPI) number will go here and the office tax ID number.
  • After you have the provider setup finished, then double check that the claim is set up the way you want it. The claim setup in located in the Practice Defaults, go to the Office Manager > Maintenance > Practice Setup > Practice Defaults. This is where you want to double check that the Billing/Pay To Provider and the Rendering/Treating Provider is set up the way you want it. The information here makes up the bottom two boxes on your insurance claim form and the insurance companies use this information to know who to send the check to and if the rendering provider is a contracted provider.
  • Depending on how your associate is being paid may prompt you to double check your default payment allocation setup. Go to the Office Manager > Maintenance > Practice Setup > Preferences and look in the upper left corner of this window to see how it is set up now. There are four choices and you can read a blog I wrote recently about these options by CLICKING HERE. If your new associate is being paid on collections, this is going to be extremely important.

The above list are the critical things to makes sure the billing and claim form is set up correctly for your doctors.

You will also need to setup your new provider with the appointment days, hours and a special color for the appointment book.  You can read more about how to set up the appointment for your new doctor by CLICKING HERE.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Why do I need to run Month End?

January is right around the corner and that means we are coming up on Year End.  I get asked a lot of questions about what the process is this time of year.  Is there a special report I should run?  Is there anything I need to know about running Year End?  The fact is there is nothing different to running Year End as there is to running Month End. 

Month End is a very important process to keeping your system running smoothly and making sure all your data is as accurate as possible.  It is also a very important security feature and should not be ignored.  I am surprised how many offices have not run a Month End for months, or even years.  Let’s go through exactly what the Month End process does so you have a clear understanding of how important it is. 

The Month End process does four main things . . .

  • It will age your account balances.  This will move your current balance into 30 days, 30 days into 60 and so on.  On many reports, including the Provider A/R Totals report, it will move your ending accounts receivable balance into the beginning balance for the new month.
  • Your ledger for that month will now be placed into history, which means that you cannot edit or delete anything on the patient’s ledger.  You will need to make an adjustment if you want to fix something on the ledger.
  • The Month End will lock up any clinical notes that have not been signed so there can be no editing to your clinical documentation.  If you need to change a clinical note, you can do an addendum. 
  • It will reset any insurance benefit used back to zero if the insurance plan is scheduled to renew.  This becomes very important for your December Month End because so many plans renew in January. 

For more information about the Month End process, please check out these other blog posts.

CLICK HERE for some sample reports to run

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Top 10 Blogs of the Year

What an amazing year it has been. The Dentrix Office Manager blog continues to grow and this year we topped over 17k page views each month . . . . thank you so much! Thank you for sharing your favorite posts with your friends and colleagues.

Enjoy the top 10!

  1. Checking insurance benefits will suck the life out of you unless you change your system  Dental insurance benefits are the thorn in our side every day. Checking benefits, eligibility and maximums for our patients is a great benefit … and it also sucks the life out of us to the point where we don’t have time for other things during the day. There needs to be a balance between it being a customer service task and a hand-holding task. The insurance benefits belong to the patient. They do not belong to the practice and we need to put the verbal skills in place to help our patients understand this . . . 
  2. Give your scanner a break . . . two ways to eliminate scanning  Does your front office have a basket over flowing with papers with a sign on it that reads “TO BE SCANNED?” No one in the office wants to touch it because it is one of those tedious tasks that no one wants to do … so it just grows and grows. I know how you feel and many practices I work with say that scanning is one of the biggest pain points they deal with every day . . .
  3. Health History Update . . . it's about being prepared for anything  If your patient had a medical emergency and your team had to call 911, how long would it take you to pull up his or her most current medical history? Is the list of current medications and allergies buried among all your clinical notes or does your most recently scanned health history form have the words “no changes” all over it, forcing you to continue searching back to the next scanned document … only to find the words “no changes” all over this one as well. It’s not just about being prepared for an emergency … it’s about being prepared for anything . . .
  4. Protect yourself from an insurance audit with proper documentation  Have any of you been noticing your X-rays being denied more frequently than usual or have you been subject to an insurance audit on excessive X-rays? It is happening and if you have not seen it yet, you will soon. I want you to be as prepared as possible when the insurance companies come knocking on your door . . .
  5. Must Reads for Doctor, Assistant, Hygienist and Admin team  . . . So I thought for the holiday weekend I would put together a priority list for the doctor, hygienist, dental assistant and admin team.  Here are the top three posts in each category . . . 
  6. Three tips for an accurate list of patients with unused insurance benefits  We have all heard the phrase “Garbage in, Garbage out.” This phrase comes into play especially when you and your team are trying to generate a list of patients who have unscheduled treatment and unused insurance benefits. Since this is typically the time of year when you want to start reminding patients to use or lose their unused insurance benefits, you want to make sure that this amount used is not a bunch of garbage . . . 
  7. It's the little things . . .  It’s the little things that matter.  I hear that statement all the time being out in the dental industry working with dental practices from all over the country. I love it when I show clients something and their eyes light up because they now know something that is so simple but makes such a huge impact on their day . . .
  8. Hygienists . . . you are one of the primary educators in the practice  We all know that research shows the systemic links between oral health and the rest of the body, especially the relationship between periodontal disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and respiratory disease. As oral health providers, it is our responsibility to educate our patients about the significance of periodontal disease and how it will affect the rest of their body . . . 
  9. Accurate Family Balance or Accurate Patient Balance . . . you choose  In my last post, I talked about the fact that I love how many things in Dentrix can be customized to fit the needs of the practice, from the toolbars to colors on the patient chart. In addition to visual customizations, you can also change the way payments are handled in the ledger as they are applied to the providers and specific patients. You would think that every office would want to handle payments and track collections the same, but this is not the case . . . 
  10. How to generate an Unscheduled Treatment Report for patients who have already said "Yes" to treatment.  Back in February, I wrote an article on using visual tools to help communicate the status of the treatment plan with your entire team. If you want to re-read it, CLICK HERE. If you have implemented some of these visual aids, did you know that you can filter one of the Treatment Plan reports to give you a narrower search?

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Insurance Co-Pay plan setup

I had a question the other day from an office who had a patient with a new type of insurance plan that she did not know how to setup in Dentrix. Over the last year or so, I have been seeing a lot of new and interesting dental plans popping up around the country. The plans I am seeing the most are patient co-pay plans so I wanted to take a moment to help you with the setup. 

Most of us are used to the traditional plans that pay 100% on Preventative, 80% Basic and 50% for major dental treatment. These traditional plans are being replaced with unconventional, harder to manage dental plans. With a co-pay plan, the patient will pay a fixed dollar amount toward certain procedures and then the insurance plan will pick up the difference. Once you get it set up, the computer will take over and calculate the patient’s out of pocket on the ledger and treatment plan estimates. 

From the Insurance window on the patient family file, click on Insurance Data and enter in all the insurance demographic information and attach the correct fee schedule if it applies. If you want more info on using fee schedules, CLICK HERE. Then click into the Coverage Table section and this is where most of the setup will happen. 

First, select a different coverage table so it will show all the procedures instead of the categories. Next, highlight the procedure code where there is a co-pay applied, enter the amount in the co-pay box and click on Add. Do this for every procedure where there is a patient co-pay and also make sure that the coverage percentage is 100% (it will default to 100% but it doesn’t hurt to double check). The final step is to select the co-pay calculation method. In my example, I have selected the (total fee – co-pay) x cov% because this is the most common.

Now, if this co-pay plan has procedures that are not covered, you can either change the coverage % for that procedure code to 0% or enter the procedure in the Payment Table. Remember that the Payment Table overrides the Coverage Table so it would also be good to check to make sure the Payment Table doesn’t have anything in it that might throw off your estimates.

I hope this helps. Let me know if I can assist with any other odd insurance plan setup. I am happy to help.

Monday, November 21, 2016

What are you thankful for and how do you show it?

What are you thankful for? As I spend time with dental practices this time of
year, I love listening to how they spend their holidays … not only with each other as a team but how they give thanks to their patients. Many dental offices have elaborate parties to celebrate the end of the year and some go out into their community and volunteer their time in a shelter helping those who need it more.

One of the topics I spend quality time discussing with my teams is Patient Retention numbers and how everything they do not only inside the walls of their practice but out in the community affect Patient Retention. Everything you do is marketing your practice, whether it is walking patients up to the front desk with a very choreographed handoff to the front desk or calling in the evening to make sure they are feeling well after a tough procedure that day.

I would like to hear from you. I would love to hear not only how you give thanks this holiday season, but also about those special things you do for your patients and team members to make them feel special. Make your comments on this post and share your stories.

I will start . . .

In my practice we would always celebrate our team member’s anniversary of when they started work at the office. Since I was the “techie” in the office, I would change that team member’s screensaver to be a message about how much I appreciated everything he or she did in the office.”

Our office always gave out flowers on Mother’s Day”

I understand if you don’t want to give out your marketing secrets but let’s have some fun and enjoy reading something other than a Dentrix How-To.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Your Personal To-Do list

Did you know that not only does every patient have an office journal but every team member has an office journal? You might be wondering why that is relevant. Let’s take a little test. Can you answer YES to any of these questions?

  • Does your doctor’s desk have sticky notes all over it?
  • Does your desk have sticky notes all over it?
  • Are you looking for a better way to communicate with your team?
  • Do you work best off a list to To-Do’s?

If you answered yes to any of these, then I have a solution for you. Not only can you use the Office Journal for documenting administrative conversations with patients and keeping track of all your notes with patients, but you can also use it as your own personal To-Do list. And your entire team can have their own To-Do list in the Office Journal. You can send a note to one of your team members and it will show up on their Office Journal. Let’s run through a few examples.

Let’s say you are talking to a patient about scheduling his or her treatment and the patient says, “Can you call me after the New Year?” You can enter a Reminder Office Journal entry with a future date and it will show up on the patient’s Office Journal and your Office Journal.

You are trying to send claims for the day but you are missing the narrative for the crown on your first patient of the morning. You need to have the doctor review the X-ray and document it for the claim. That means that, instead of putting a “sticky note” on his desk, you can send him a note on his Office Journal.

A letter came in the mail today from your implant specialist that the implant is ready to restore for one of your patients. You need to let your dental assistant know to order parts and let your doctor know to treatment plan the next visit. You can send an Office Journal note on both of their journals with the specifics to the case and let them know they will find the letter from the specialist in the Document Center.

These examples happen in the dental office every day. How do you communicate with your team? How would life be if you could keep your communication inside of your practice management software? Try it and see.

Read other articles about how awesome the Office Journal is . . . 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Mining for Gold - the 3 reports for searching unscheduled treatment

When I worked in a dental practice, we still had paper charts until 2009 when I helped my practice transition to a paperless environment. This means that we had a ton of treatment sitting in these paper charts that we had to search for manually in order to find patients who were unscheduled. It was an extremely time-consuming process but it is what we had to do in order to keep our doctor’s schedule full.

When you are working in a chartless environment and all your treatment plans are sitting in the computer, you still must follow up with patients who are not scheduled … but the process is much more streamlined. What I love about computer data is that it is all trackable and you can filter it onto a report. I call it “Mining for Gold.”

In Dentrix, there are actually three reports for you to use to track down unscheduled treatment to follow up with patients. I do have a favorite but I will let you decide for yourself what works best in your practice.
  1. The Unscheduled Treatment Plan Report has been in Dentrix forever and it is what I used back in the olden days. This report gives you information on unscheduled treatment but you have to print it in order to work it and it can be very lengthy. Also, we have to remember that every time we print a report, things will change quickly and then your report is obsolete. To find this report, go to the Office Manager > Reports > Lists > Unscheduled Treatment Plans.
  2. The Practice Treatment Case Report is also a printed report but you can filter it by very specific data points that you cannot find in other reports. What I like about this report is that you can search for treatment that has been Accepted, Rejected or Proposed if you are marking your cases with this status. This is good information for your doctor to see. In this report, you can also search by the case severity if you are using the stop light feature (for more information on this, CLICK HERE). This report can only be found on the Patient Chart and Treatment Planner modules. Click on the printer icon as if you were printing a treatment plan estimate, but instead click on Practice Treatment Case Report. Then select the parameters you want and click OK.
  3. The Treatment Manager Report This is by far my favorite report in Dentrix. It offers you a way to search for patients with unscheduled treatment and create your own interactive spreadsheet where you can resort the columns to organize the report any way you want. You also do not have to print this report because everything you need to follow up with the patient is at your fingertips. For more details about using this report, refer to the blog I wrote called “Holes in your Doctor’s Schedule?” and learn more.

Mining for Gold” is my motto when it comes to looking for patients with unscheduled treatment. You need to be proactive when it comes to following up with patients. You cannot expect them to pick up the phone and call you. Keeping your schedule full is something that requires a little bit of work from you. I hope these report options help make the task a little more efficient.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Tracking the ROI on your marketing campaigns in three easy steps

You spend a lot of money on marketing, direct mailers and advertising. I am
shocked sometimes when I see how much these advertising campaigns cost the practice. How do you know if they are working? Do you know the ROI on your investment? I can help you see the statistics you need to know to help make decisions on your referral programs and new patient acquisition.
First things first . . . your team must be recording where your new patients are being referred from. If you are starting a new patient referral program or just signed up with a marketing company that is launching some direct mail campaigns, I want you to add these into your referral sources. Go to the Office Manager > Reference > Referral Maintenance. Then click on add new and enter the name of the campaign. Make sure to check Non Person and then, at the bottom, click on Referred By. The reason you want to select Non Person is because these campaigns will be tracked as Referred by Marketing on the Practice Advisor Report.

Second, make sure your team is checking the new patients against the referring sources on a daily basis. The easiest way to do this is using the Daily Huddle Report. Look at the Daily Huddle each day and make sure the total number of new patients is accurate and make sure the total number of new patients matches the total number of referral sources. This makes sure that every new patient is tracked with how he or she found you.

Now the juicy stuff . . . you can run a report that will show you the total number of patients by each referral source, see how much their treatment plan is worth and how much production has been completed. This is invaluable because you can not only see how many patients this campaign is bringing you, but also how much revenue. AMAZING!

Go to the Office Manager > Reports > Management > Referred By Report. Next, select the referral dates, production dates and select the referring source you want to analyze. Then at the bottom make sure to check Show Production Detail.

This will be great information when you are looking to renew a campaign or just great feedback to your marketing company

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Personal goals = personal growth = practice success

Did one of my recent articles get you thinking about planning for the end of the year? I talked about how you can make adjustments in your appointment book to make room for those last-minute new patients who are trying to get in before the end of the year so you can make your new patient goal number. I also discussed how you can forecast your appointment book production numbers to see if you are coming up short for your production goals. If you would like to re-read this article, CLICK HERE to be redirected.

These practice goals are not only important, but they are critical to the health of the office overhead and the stress level of the team. But what about you? What are your personal goals? When I was working in a practice, I got my hands on as much CE as I could handle. Do you know what goal I think you could set and accomplish by the end of the year? You could become a Dentrix Master and receive a certificate to prove it. This could be your personal end of the year goal.

Clinical CE is great and, for some of you in the dental practice, it is a requirement in order for you to maintain your license. Your entire day revolves around your practice management software and most offices have zero training or continuing education for the software you use every day. You all must maintain a certain level of knowledge of Dentrix in order to function on a daily basis. I am asking you to up your game and not just function, but excel. Become a Dentrix Master.

It’s easy to start and extremely rewarding to finish. The Dentrix Mastery Tracks were launched to help you learn more about your software, things you might not know exist and things you want to learn more about. This is your chance to set a personal goal and help your office at the same time.  I believe in you.

Your first test is free! 

To get started CLICK HERE and Create New User. Then enter code FreeTestDOM

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Bracing for Hurricane Matthew or any natural disaster

As I write this blog for you all today, I am sitting in a hotel in Jacksonville, Fla., because I am working with an amazing periodontal office with their systems, health history updates and overall practice efficiency. Last night, I spoke to their study club members on some practical measures when it comes to protecting their patient records. It is ironic that, as I write this, we are on the verge of Hurricane Matthew hitting the east coast of Florida … so this post becomes so much more important.

It is up to the practice to make sure that their patients’ Protected Health Information (PHI) is kept confidential, the integrity of the record is sound and your patients’ records are accessible. So as I watch the Weather Channel from my hotel room tonight, I wanted to put together some tips you can follow to help you protect your patient’s information.

Notice what I said “some tips you can follow to help you protect your patient’s information.” It is not the job of your software, your hardware or your office design to ensure the protection of your patient’s data. It is up to you to put systems in place.

Since Florida is on the verge of a Category 4 hurricane, I want to point out a few things that could potentially affect the confidentiality, integrity and accessibility of your patient’s protected health information.
  • Power outages are going to be a huge issue with this upcoming storm. If you are going to close the office and want to have access to some of your patients’ information for returning calls, phoning in medications or following up with your patients after some surgeries, I would recommend you using Dentrix Mobile. When you use Dentrix Mobile, you have the opportunity to remote in using a mobile device and having access to some of your patients’ critical information.
  • Make sure an authorized team member has access to the backup of all the patient data in case of flooding or destruction of the practice. The backup of the data might be on an external hard drive or in an online secure backup system. Dentrix has the option of using eBackup to store your patients’ information securely and safely. This would give your practice a good option to access patient data in case of an emergency.
  • Make sure you have your Business Associate Agreements in place with your outside contractors. What if you are working with a consultant, accountant, attorney or computer company who has access to your patients’ information and they are the ones who are affected by the storm which jeopardizes the confidentiality of your patients’ information?

You can never do too much to prepare for a disaster and you have an obligation to protect your patients’ health information. It is not something you want to take lightly. Seeing this storm and looking back on storms in the past makes me realize we should be prepared for anything.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Will you finish the year at goal?

Okay teams, we are down to the last three months of the calendar year. Now is Are we going to meet our YTD goals?” You still have time to prepare and make some adjustments in your schedule if you are coming up short for the year. Just a couple of weeks ago, I talked about reaching out to patients with unscheduled treatment and how to make sure you have an accurate list of patients with whom to follow up. Now is the time to give your patients a gentle nudge and get them in before they lose out on those precious dental benefits.
the time to ask yourself, “

But there is more to goal-setting than just production goals. You have new patient goals and collections to strive for if you want a healthy practice. You might be asking, “Okay, what can we do over the next three months to maximize the time we have left in the year?” Let’s talk about some things you can do to set your practice up for an end of the year success.
  • Make sure you have time set aside for those new patients who are going to procrastinate and want to schedule in November and December. If you have read my blog for a while, you know that I love Perfect Day Scheduling and it is ideal for blocking out time for new patients. If you have a goal of 20 new patients per month, then using Perfect Day Scheduling will ensure that your new patients calling in will have some options when they call you. It kills me when I am working with practices that say, “We can’t get a new patient in for two months.” This is unacceptable if you want to grow your practice. For more information on how to use Perfect Day Scheduling, refer back to these articles . . .
  • Monitoring your production goals on a daily basis can give you and your team the statistics needed to make adjustments throughout the month and hopefully end the month on a positive note. You can enter your monthly goals into the software and use the Daily Huddle Report to manage your production goals on a daily basis. Also, when you enter your monthly goals into the software, you can use the monthly calendar as a quick visual to see where you are in respect to your goal. This is a great tool for your morning huddle. For more information on how to enter goals into Dentrix, refer back to these articles . . .
  • Tracking your collections and forecasting where you will end up for the year is also an extremely important piece for the last three months of the year. Monitoring your collections and accounts receivable can be watched from the Daily Huddle, Practice Advisor and the Practice Analysis. You can have amazing production … but if you are not collecting it, then none of it matters. If your collections are short for YTD so far, then let’s look for ways to step it up and find out where the outstanding money is. For more information on managing your accounts receivable, refer back to these past articles . . .

You can do this! Give your team the tools and reports they need to look ahead toward the end of 2016. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Medical Billing or Bust - what you need to know now

I had the pleasure of speaking last week at the annual American Association of Dental Office Managers (AADOM) meeting in Boca Rotan, Fla. My topic, Medical Billing or Bust, is a passion of mine and anytime I have the opportunity to spread the word about how you can change the world and change the lives of your patients is important to me. Keep your eyes open for registration to The Business of Dentistry Conference coming up in August 2017 where I will be teaching the Medical Billing or Bust to Dentrix users.

There are several things I can bring you up to speed now in this article that will help you understand how to set it up in your Dentrix software. Medical billing is not only about trying to maximize your patients’ benefits that they might not have access to, but it is also about providing the necessary coding for other organizations to use for growing awareness about disease patterns. With this being said, you can use medical coding on both the ADA claim form and the HCFA medical claim form.

Here are a few things to know now . . .
  • You will need to upgrade your Dentrix software to G6.1 in order to using medical coding on any claim form and send out a claim. This upgrade was released on October 1, 2015 so it has been out for almost a year.
  • When you upgrade to Dentrix G6.1, the software will include the most common ICD-10 codes for a dental office. This will save you a ton of time with having to input these codes. If there are some codes not included that you need, you can manually enter them into your system.
  • Make sure the HCFA claim form is added into the Definitions because you will need to attach it to the insurance plan information. There are several medical claim forms available. If you need a different format than the HCFA, you can search the Dentrix Knowledge base for the article that lists all the medical claim forms available so you can add the one you need into the Definitions.
  • When you upgrade to Dentrix G6.1 and you have not done any medical billing yet, you will need to add in all your CPT codes, Modifiers, Place or Service codes and Type of Service codes. If you need resources for these codes, please email me directly and I can send you a resource page at dayna@raedentalmanagement.com

For more information on medical billing, please read these past articles . . .

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Three tips for an accurate list of patients with unused insurance benefits

We have all heard the phrase “Garbage in, Garbage out.” This phrase comes into play especially when you and your team are trying to generate a list of patients who have unscheduled treatment and unused insurance benefits. Since this is typically the time of year when you want to start reminding patients to use or lose their unused insurance benefits, you want to make sure that this amount used is not a bunch of garbage. 

How do you make sure your unused insurance benefits is a number you can count on? 

Here are three tips . . .
  • Make sure you are up to date on month end. One of the many tasks that the month end procedure will tackle is resetting the insurance benefits used back to zero. I was in a practice a couple of months ago and one reason they have never been able to trust their treatment plan estimates is because they had not performed a month end since 2009. RUN MONTH END!
  • When you are setting up the insurance plan, make sure that the benefit renewal date is set accurately. Open the Insurance Data window. About halfway down, there is a benefit renewal date. Make sure this is accurate.
  • Update the patient’s insurance amount used if he or she has gone to a specialist or used benefits at another practice. Open the deductibles tab in the insurance window and manually update the benefits used. This way, when you search for a list of patients with remaining insurance benefits, you will get an accurate list.

For more information on how to run the reports and exports the lists, check out these past articles.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

5 Ways to trust the data on the Practice Advisor Report

Last week, I had the honor of attending the Henry Schein Practice Solutions
consultant summit. It is a time every two years where dental consultants and industry leaders get together with the Henry Schein team and discuss the challenges the dental practice is facing and what lies ahead in the future. This helps the R&D department work on enhancements to the many products and services we use every day in our dental practice. It is one of the most amazing brainstorming sessions I have ever attended. It is also a lot of fun.

With that being said, a blog topic idea came into my head while I was listening to Tammy Barker speak about Profitability Coaching and how her team spends quite a bit of time with their clients on making sure the data being displayed on the KPI reports is as accurate as possible. I share the same goal and want all of you to understand how to make sure your numbers are as accurate as possible.

There are five key numbers on the Practice Advisor that are critical to the health and success of your practice. Your team needs to know what they do in the software affects the outcome of these statistics.
  • Case Acceptance – Dentrix can track your case acceptance accurately if your team manages the treatment plans appropriately. The way Dentrix tracks the monthly case acceptance is if the treatment is diagnosed and completed in the same month OR if your mark the case as accepted. For more about managing treatment plans, CLICK HERE.
  • Production per day – This is entirely dependent on the setup of the appointment book. You must have your office days, provider days and hours set up accurately in order to get an accurate production per day number. I feel this number is more important than the production per month. To learn more about setting up the appointment to perfection, CLICK HERE.
  • New Patients – Dentrix tracks new patients based on the first visit date located in the Family File. It also will count a patient as a new patient if this date is empty. The best way to track this on a daily basis is to use the Daily Huddle Report. If you want to read more about the Daily Huddle, CLICKHERE.
  • Referrals – Your total new patients should match the total number of referral sources. This is important because you want to see where your patients are coming from and know how to spend your marketing dollars. For these two numbers to be accurate, the First Visit Date and the Referral Date must match. I wrote about this back in January and you can re-read it by CLICKING HERE.
  • Active Patient Base – The active patient base on the Practice Advisor Report looks at the last visit date and how many patients have come in for an appointment within a certain amount of time. This one could get a little tricky for the office that posts a procedure code for things like missed appointments and other non-appointment tracking on the ledger. Every time you post something to the ledger with a procedure code, it will update the last visit date and now your Active Patient Base is updated. You can read more about this topic by CLICKING HERE.

This topic of accurate numbers and learning to trust your reports is so important. It is one of the most requested topics I get and one of the most-asked questions I receive from Dentrix users. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

What an amazing marketing tool!

Have you stopped using Dentrix mobile? If so, may I ask what you are using as a login tool instead? If there is something easier and more tightly integrated with your Dentrix software other than Dentrix Mobile, I would like to know about it. 

Maybe it’s just that you don’t know what Dentrix Mobile is or you haven’t been taught how to use it.  Over the past few years, I have seen a decline in awareness and use of Dentrix Mobile so I felt it was time to re-post about this useful tool and remind you that it is part of your customer service agreement. 

One of the greatest marketing tasks you can do at your practice is follow up with patients after a surgical or challenging appointment. You can easily log into Dentrix Mobile and see your appointment book and look up patient information to make those important calls. 

I just finished two of the best books on the market right now for the dental practice, Everything is Marketing and Becoming Remarkable by Fred Joyal. One thing that he recommends in his books is for the doctor to call new patients, welcome them to the practice and ask if there is anything he or she should know before their visit tomorrow. What an amazing marketing tool! This can easily be done using your Dentrix Mobile service because you can make the calls from anywhere and see your appointment book at a glance.

If you would like to read my blog from 2013 (which is still very pertinent today) about Dentrix Mobile, CLICK HERE to be directed.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Don't settle on the defaults

Okay, I get it. You are not quite ready to dive into electronic forms, load them up on your website for patients to fill out online or link them up to an iPad. If you are wanting to go paperless, then using the document center in Dentrix is going to be how you will manage all your paper forms. What I am finding with so many offices is that they think they have to settle with the default settings that came with the Dentrix installation.

Since the document center will be your best friend when it comes to paper storage, here are some tips to make it work as best as it can for you.
When you think of the document center, think of it like a big file cabinet with hanging file folders and then you put the pieces of paper into it. I want you to customize the names of the hanging file folders just like you would in a real file cabinet.

Here are some examples . . .
  • Referring Doctor Letters
  • Lab Slips
  • Original Forms from Paper Chart
  • New Patient Forms
  • Health History Update (of course if you read my blog you know that I love the Questionnaire module for HHX)
  • Consent Forms
  • Pre-Op Forms

So how do you edit the category types? Open the document center > setup > document types, then you can edit the existing names and/or create new ones. Create verbiage that your team will understand and will make it easier to find information.

NOTE: If you are using the feature that sends a virtual copy of the patient billing statement to the document center, make sure you keep the Billing Statements line item at the top of the list.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

It's the little things . . .

It’s the little things that matter.  I hear that statement all the time being out in the
dental industry working with dental practices from all over the country. I love it when I show clients something and their eyes light up because they now know something that is so simple but makes such a huge impact on their day.

Dentrix is by far the most comprehensive and feature-rich practice management software in the industry and this is why it is the leading software for dentists.  However, when a keystroke or menu maneuver helps you do something better, faster and easier, it is HUGE.

Here are some of the top “Ah-Ha” moments I have seen over my career as a certified Dentrix trainer.

  • Printing the full day of Route Slips or sorting them.  When I walk into an office and I see in the Batch Processor 30-60 single Route Slips being printed, I know this office does not know how to print out the whole day at one time.  There are two ways to accomplish this . . .
    • Office manager > Reports > Lists > Daily Appointment List > check mark Patient Route Slips and send to the Batch.  From this menu, you can also sort by provider or operatory.
    • You can also print the Route Slips within the Daily Huddle Report.
  • Filter the Office Journal.  If you have been reading my blog, you know how much I love the office journal and I recommend all teams use it for admin communication with patients.  However, I find that a lot of offices refuse to use it because it takes so long to load.  Good news! You can filter your office journal so it will load less information and speed it up.  Open the office journal and click on View and then Filters.  Here you can select only the information you want to list in your view and you can select a starting date so it doesn’t look back to the beginning of time.
  • Lock your computer with a CTRL + ALT + DEL and select LOCK COMPUTER when you leave your workstation. This way, you do not have to close down all your Dentrix windows to secure your computer.

Let me know what some of your “Ah-Ha” moments are.  I would love to hear your stories and quick tips to share.  You can comment  on this post or email me directly.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Give your scanner a break . . . two ways to eliminate scanning

Does your front office have a basket over flowing with papers with a sign on it that reads “TO BE SCANNED?” No one in the office wants to touch it because it is one of those tedious tasks that no one wants to do … so it just grows and grows. I know how you feel and many practices I work with say that scanning is one of the biggest pain points they deal with every day.

Let’s look at how we could cut that pile of paper in half … but first let’s look at what’s in that pile and how we can deal with it in the electronic world. Some examples of what ends up in that pile of “TO BE SCANNED” paper are . . .
  • Letters from specialists
  • Treatment plan estimates
  • Insurance EOBs and pre-estimates
  • New patient forms
  • Health history updates
  • Consent forms
  •  Letters to/from patients

We can’t really do much with the paper that comes in through the mail because it is already in a paper form. There is not much we can do other than scan it. What I would recommend is reaching out to the people who are sending you paper and see if you can receive electronic correspondence or (even better) see if they can send the letter as an attachment to an email. NOTE: Make sure you are using a HIPAA-compliant email service when you are sending protected patient information.

There are two in-house ways you can eliminate the scanning without adding any additional cost or third-party service.
  1. “Send to the Dentrix Document Center” is the easiest, most efficient way to get a document into the Document Center without scanning. This can be used for anything you receive in an email, off a website (insurance breakdowns, EOBs, etc.) or as an attachment. You can also send all your treatment plan estimates to the Document Center using this feature and then have the patient sign in the Document Center using an electronic signature device. If your referring doctors are still sending their follow up letter in the mail, you can implement a way for them to send it to you via email and now you can send it to the Document Center without scanning. CLICK HERE for instructions on how this works.
  2. Start using the Dentrix Questionnaire module for all in-house forms, including health history updates, all treatment consent forms, financial arrangement forms and updates to your HIPAA acknowledgement. You can use the Questionnaire Module without adding any expense for electronic services … all you will need is a signature pad. You can print out your consent forms and have them laminated so the patient can read them in a paper form. After that, have the patient sign in the Questionnaire or just pull the form up on your monitor for him or her to read. It is so easy. CLICK HERE to learn how to create a new form.

Give your team a break . . . give your scanner a break and save time. Use this time to do more productive things like fill your schedule and improve your collections. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Protect yourself from an insurance audit with proper documentation

Have any of you been noticing your X-rays being denied more frequently than usual or have you been subject to an insurance audit on excessive X-rays? It is
happening and if you have not seen it yet, you will soon. I want you to be as prepared as possible when the insurance companies come knocking on your door.

When I work with dental teams, I often see the practice using the Continuing Care system in Dentrix as a way of tracking when a patient is due for his or her next series of X-rays. Your recare system is the most powerful system in your practice and it is the lifeblood of your practice. If you let patients fall through the cracks, you are letting thousands of dollars walk out the back door and your patients may suffer from unscheduled treatment. I do not doubt that your team has the best patient care at heart when you use the Continuing Care system in Dentrix as a way of staying focused on staying current on your diagnostics for your patients. However, taking X-rays is not based on the insurance frequency nor your “office policy” on BWX frequency.

Diagnostics is the reason for taking X-rays, not frequency. With this being said, your clinical documentation needs to reflect this in order to defend yourself in the case of an insurance denial or insurance company audit. I recently attended a study club meeting presented by my good friend and colleague, Teresa Duncan.  She stressed two main points in your clinical documentation.

Since I help dental practices all the time with their custom clinical note templates, there are two things you need to include in your template.  This can easily added to your clinical note template with a checkbox prompt so you can choose the variable answer for each patient.
  • X-rays were reviewed by . . .
  • X-rays are needed because of . . .

One office I know has made a new office policy that the doctor comes into the exam before the hygienist or dental assistant starts to take the X-rays so they can be properly diagnosed. I have another office that has changed up its recare appointments so that the X-rays are diagnosed at the current appointment and then scheduled with the next recare visit so they cover all their bases.

Now, I am not suggesting that you stop using the Dentrix Continuing Care system for tracking X-rays. However, I am suggesting that you add the risk assessment and diagnosis in your clinical note to substantiate the taking of the X-rays.

If you would like the full report developed by the ADA and the FDA on this topic, please email me directly and I will send it to you.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Creating rich, meaningful relationships to increase your patient retention

If you have been reading my blog for a while you probably have stumbled across an article or two about Patient Retention and if you have worked with me personally we definitely have discussed ways to improve your patient retention and create more meaningful relationships.  In many of my articles you will find tips on where to document these relationship building tidbits about your patients so you can create a dental experience your patients will rave about online.

I met a company recently that shares my view on creating those meaningful relationships and improving your patient retention.  Social Dental believes that the best practices deserve the best patients. If you share this belief, read on.

By definition, the best patients are engaged. They’re not just “shoppers” who are looking for the lowest price on a one­-time procedure; they’re looking to invest in a long-­term relationship. These “above-­the­-bar” patients keep their appointments. They appreciate the care they receive and they accept and follow through on treatment recommendations. Consequently, these highly engaged patients achieve the best outcomes and the highest levels of patient satisfaction. And engaged patients tend to have friends and family members who are a lot like them. Audience engagement is, of course, the key to a building a successful online presence for your practice. Trust is the currency of the web and being real and authentic online builds trust. Not surprisingly, the most effective way to create engagement is by sharing real photos of real patients. Authentic patient photos (vs. stock photography or manufactured content) open a window into your office culture, helping potential patients feel connected to you before they ever step foot in your office.

Social Dental also makes it easy to quickly request Google Reviews from your patients by getting their attention before the distractions of life take over.

The one thing that makes all of this work is for you and your team to genuinely care about your patients. Otherwise, asking to take a photo with a patient may feel forced and cause your team to feel like they’re imposing. When this happens, the process can feel more like a chore than a celebration and the idea of creating a lasting culture of patient engagement will never take root in your practice.

Developing a culture of appreciation is the most important way to grow your practice—online and offline. Visit www.socialdental.com to schedule a demo and
mention this article and Dayna Johnson and you’ll get a $1000 discount off the set up.  

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

How can I see which doctor is scheduled to do the exam? Here are 3 ways . . .

One of the most frequently asked questions I receive from multi-doctor practices about the Dentrix appointment book is, “How can we see which doctor is assigned to the patient for the exam?” Since the appointment is set in the provider color (usually the hygienist color), it is difficult to see which patient each doctor needs to see during the day. Another question along these same lines is, “Can I post the exam to the doctor and the cleaning to the hygienist?”
In the past, there was no good answer. 

Now with the release of G6, there is a way to answer both these questions . . . Yeah!

When you schedule a patient for an appointment in G6, you will notice an Addl Provider box in the upper left corner where you can add the specified doctor for this patient’s exam. When you add an additional provider, you will be able to view it in a couple of places depending on your preferences.  

  • If your practice is using Route Slips or Patient Visit Forms, then you will see the additional provider in the Appointment Details section of the form.
  • Back in (I think) Dentrix G3, they added the Hover. When you let your mouse sit over the top of the appointment, it will pop up a window that will give you more information about the patient such as his or her picture, birthdate, insurance info, etc. One of these new pieces of info in the Hover is the Additional Provider.
  • You can add the Additional Provider to the View. From the Appointment Book, click on View from the top toolbar, and select the view you want to edit, then on the right side you will see a bunch of drop-down menus for Appointment Display Info. Here you can select the Additional Provider to show on the appointment book view so you can see visually on every appointment.
When you go to check out the patient and set the procedures complete, you can assign the exam to the additional provider and give that production to the doctor without having to go to the ledger and change it manually. This will save you a ton of time.  

I hope this tip helps you be more efficient and productive in your everyday routine. You use your practice management software every day and it is the little things that make the biggest impact on your day.

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Thriving Dentist with Gary Takacs - podcast

Practice management software is a critical element in every thriving practice. Yet many Dentists and Team Members are only using a small fraction of the capabilities of their practice management software. In this Thriving Dentist Show, Gary interviews his friend Dayna Johnson on specific tips to optimize your dental practice management software. Dayna is an authority on this subject and passionate about helping her colleagues. In this interview, Gary and Dayna discuss; Why many dental offices are still using a paper chart, the four specific benefits of converting to digital records, the three key elements of a successful paperless transition, important security tips, a fool proof back up system and the five most important statistics that every office should monitor with their practice management software.

CLICK HERE to be directed to the podcast

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Everything Dental Blog - June 2016

The Secret Weapon of every dental office is their practice management software. The big secret is how it is used or underutilized. There are many good systems available to the dental community but most dentists only use a fraction of their utilities capabilities. Looking toward the future, dentists must embrace the power and versatility of their practice management suite. The benefits of a robust PMS can help them become more efficient and even more profitable. Whether you are a solo practitioner or a large group, practice efficiency and seamless technology integration is the goal!

If you assess the business acumen of independent solo dental practices across the USA you will find these four business styles. These styles address leadership, management style and degree of confidence. There is a direct correlation between leadership type and operational efficiency as well as PMS competency and offices that track their key production numbers.

CLICK HERE to continue reading my interview with Jack Abrams from The Abrams Report courtesy of the Everything Dental Blog.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Must Reads for Doctor, Assistant, Hygienist and Admin team

I was at the Henry Schein Center in Seattle today working with the new DTS (Digital Technology Sales), Tyler Call.  He wanted to learn more about Dentrix so he could present a more effective demo to prospective Dentrix clients. 
My first question to Tyler was “Who is your target audience? Which team
members attend your Dentrix demo?”  I remember when I demoed Dentrix back in 2003 I was the only participant in the process and my doctor just wrote the check. 

It was important for me to know who attends the sales call because each team member is going to have a different set of priorities. Just like all of you who read this blog, you all have a different set of priorities.  So I thought for the holiday weekend I would put together a priority list for the doctor, hygienist, dental assistant and admin team.  Here are the top three posts in each category.

Doctor’s must reads . . .
  1. Super Efficient with Templates - For all the Dentrix users, I want to give you some help when it comes to building templates, which can be a huge time-saver in your office. Here are some of my favorite template tips.
  2. How to Read Your Clinical Notes - 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.
  3. Top Five Reports Every Doctor Should ReadI received an e-mail from a doctor the other day who had a situation that needed attention. Her clinical team had started posting procedures in the patient chart and had accidentally posted a root canal as “complete” rather than “existing.”

Dental Assistant must reads . . .
  1. What is the Status of the Lab Case?  Do any of these lab-related scenarios ever happen in your office?
  2. How to Chart a Supernumerary Tooth - Our patients walk in with some unusual situations, but one of the more common situations I see is an extra tooth or Supernumerary Tooth. 
  3. Health History Update, being prepared for anything - If your patient had a medical emergency and your team had to call 911, how long would it take you to pull up his or her most current medical history? 

Dental Hygienists must reads . . .
  1. Oops, the wrong tooth was removed from the chart - Have you had a patient in your chair for his or her 6-month checkup and, while you are perio charting, you notice that the wrong tooth is missing. 
  2. Hygienists, you are one of the primary educators in the practice - We all know that research shows the systemic links between oral health and the rest of the body, especially the relationship between periodontal disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and respiratory disease.
  3. Where do I Make Notes - Do you ever find yourself searching endlessly for the patient’s most recent list of medications? What if the doctor wants to know if the patient has any allergies before the anesthetic is administered?

Admin team must reads . . .
  1. Can you write me an excuse note for school?
  2. Get Creative with your ASAP List - I was working with an office recently and they have a program specifically for patients who do not pre-appoint. These patients are mostly retired and have very flexible schedules. 
  3. Are you a Stickler for Accurate Numbers - How often does a patient call and ask, “What is my balance?” If it is a single patient ledger, the answer is relatively simple. But what if a mother of five calls and asks for each of her kid’s balances?