Monday, April 25, 2016

Obtaining a patient signature on the Treatment Plan Estimate . . . helping you create a more efficient workflow

I moderated my first online Dentrix user meeting last Friday and it was AWESOME! It’s called Freestyle Friday and it is open Q&A, which means YOU get to ask the questions during the live event and I get to help you solve it.

One of the most popular questions was about signing treatment plan estimates when you are paperless. This office was printing the estimate, having the patient sign it and then scanning it into the Document Center. I asked the participant why the office didn’t like this option and the answer was, “It is just so time-consuming.” Let’s look at some alternatives to being more efficient.

I gave this office two options to try and they can go back to their office and see which way works best for them. My preferred way is always not the best way for the office … which is why I love Dentrix so much as it gives a few different alternatives so you can choose.

Here are your options for obtaining an electronic signature on your treatment plan estimates. Take note that even if you are not paperless, you might find this workflow extremely helpful.

  • The first option is to do a “virtual print” to the Dentrix Document Center and then have the patient sign inside of the Document Center. You can find step-by-step instructions on how to do this by reading my blog titled, “A Little Known Secret”. After you have pulled the treatment plan into the Document Center, you can make notes about the agreement and then have the patient sign electronically. If you click on Edit > Sign Document or click on the icon for Sign Document, then you can have the patient sign the document in the Document Center. This will lock up the document to prevent any editing or accidental deleting.
  • The next option is to attach an electronic signature directly to the Treatment
    Plan case. Highlight a treatment case in the Treatment Plan module or Treatment Plan panel in the patient chart, then click on the Settings tab at the bottom of the panel. When you scroll all the way down, you can create or edit the consent forms you would like to use in your office. If you click on the Supporting Information tab just above that, you can attach a selected consent form to your case. When you do this, it will open a new window to prompt you to have the patient sign. After you have the patient sign using an electronic signature device, click on Save and Close. It will automatically save a copy of the consent form along with the signatures in the Document Center.

The main difference between these two options is that the first option will save an exact copy of the Treatment Plan estimate with which the patient leaves. The benefit of this is that you can re-print it for the patient later or review it over the phone and you have the exact copy he or she does. The second option does not save a visual picture of the treatment plan estimate, only the consent form and signatures. You choose what is best for your practice.


For more information on electronic signatures, CLICK HERE.

Monday, April 18, 2016

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.

One of the tools you have as a hygienist is the Dentrix perio chart module, but do you know everything that it will do to help you with visual aids for educating your patients? Let me show you a few of my favorite things you can do with your perio chart.

  1. Use the Graphic Chart to show your patient what a 9mm pocket looks like or where there is a lot of bleeding. You can enlarge a specific quadrant or arch to show specific areas in more detail by clicking on the + in the corners and center of the graphic chart. You can also click on the Show Options button to include the data measurements.
  2. If you want to show your patient any changes in their perio chart, you can compare up to four exams at a time. I would recommend only comparing two exams at a time because then it will show you a colored arrow if the pocket depth got better or worse (a green arrow means it got better and a red arrow means it got worse).
  3. You can print both of these two visual aids for your patient to take home.



As the hygienist, you are one of the primary educators in the practice. Use the tools you have in your software to enhance the case acceptance for perio therapy and help your patients work toward a healthy lifestyle. These diagnostic techniques are extremely important to getting your claims paid, but far more important is educating your patients about the link between other oral health and systemic diseases.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Find patients with missing email addresses

In our age of technology, more and more people are tethered to their mobile phones, tablets and laptops 24/7. I am not only a practice management coach and trainer, but I am also a dental patient. Like an estimated 88% of smartphone owners*, if you want to contact me and confirm my appointment, the preferred method of contact is email or text message. Many times, the practice is calling patients to confirm their appointments from a back office phone line and the patient might not recognize the phone number … so the call goes to voicemail. In our busy lives, we might not check our voicemail until that evening or a couple days later. By then, it is more than likely after office hours or too late to call back.

If you are using a third-party software for email and/or text messaging, you need to make sure that you are reaching out to as many patients as possible. If you have been spotty on asking for email addresses, you can search your Dentrix software and find patients who have a missing email address. This will help you grow your email list and connect with patients in a more efficient and effective way. You will save time and your patients will appreciate it.

  • ·        The first way you can search for patients without an email address is with the Dentrix letter merge feature and generate a list of patients. Go to the Office Manager > Letters & Custom Lists > highlight the Patient Report by Filters > Edit. In the lower left corner, there is a dropdown menu for email. Select only without (see the image below). Check mark patients, but I would not filter it with any other options because then you might skip some people. Click Close and click on the button for Open in List Manager. This will give you a list of patient names who do not have email addresses.


  • ·        The second way you can search for patients without an email address is on a daily basis using the Daily Huddle Report. Go to the Office Manager > Analysis > Daily Huddle Report > (see image below). Click on the Selected Patient List > check mark the patients with no email. This will generate a page on the Daily Huddle that will give you a list of patients coming in today. If there is an “x” next to the no email column, then you can ask those patients for their email address.

Communicating with patients using today’s technology and in a way that is more convenient for your patients will increase your confirmations and help increase your patient retention. Do you want to learn more about Patient Retention? CLICK HERE




Monday, April 4, 2016

Recare is the lifeblood of your practice

If you are a general practice or pediatric dental practice, your recare system is the lifeblood of your practice. Your doctor’s schedule feeds off the hygiene patients so it is critical that you have a seamless system. But are your hygiene systems working as well as you think they are? You may have patients falling through the cracks or not receiving the reminders that you think they are.

The most important component of your recare system is the setup and making sure your team understands the details. I want to take some time today to walk you through proper setup, checking your individual patients continuing care, and which report to manage.

First, the setup is key. I wrote a blog post on May 23, 2012, called “KISS your Continuing Care Types,” but obviously not everyone read it so I am going to take some of those tips and re-apply them today. Many offices, understandably, try and create a system for 3-month Perio, 4-month Prophy, etc., by setting up new Continuing Care types but trust me . . . IT DOESN’T WORK! Remember that you can only attach one Continuing Care type to the procedure code. To
understand what I am talking about, go to the Office Manager > Maintenance > Practice Setup > Procedure Code Setup, then highlight the D1110 and click edit. You will notice in the middle of the window there is a >> Auto Continuing Care where you can attach one Continuing Care Type to this code. This means you cannot link up a 4-month Prophy and 6-month Prophy to the same code.
Your options are Prophy and Perio or Recare. You can link the Prophy to the D1110 and the D1120 and the Perio to the D4910, or link the Recare to all three.
After you have this setup corrected, when you schedule your patient for a cleaning, it will link up to the appointment correctly. When you set complete, it will update your patient’s due date.

But what if your patient is a 3-month Perio or 4-month Prophy? How do you get it up update the due date correctly? You can update the patient’s frequency on his or her Family File in the Continuing Care window. Once you change the patient’s recare frequency, then your reports will be accurate. When you schedule the patient for his or her next visit, the system will know when he or she is due.


After you get this setup fixed and the patient’s frequency updated on the Family File, then you can feel confident that your Continuing Care Report is accurate. If you are using the Dentrix eCentral communication manager, you will know that your patients are receiving reminders when they are due. For a full article on the Continuing Care report, CLICK HERE.