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? 



Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Are you that doctor?

Are you the doctor who wants to give the patient a treatment plan estimate with a total case fee instead of a line item estimate? I have worked with many of you and I get it. You want to offer your patient a total case fee that includes everything for the end result.

I was working with a prosthodontist a few years back and he was one of those doctors who wanted a total case fee not a line item treatment plan. So we worked together and got creative with the software. This question came up again this week while I was talking with one of my colleagues so I thought I would share some ideas with you.

Here is what you can do. Create your custom procedure codes in the Office Manager. Go to the Office Manager > Maintenance > Practice Setup > Procedure Code Setup and add your new in-office custom codes. Here are some examples . . .
  • Implant Option – Crown & Bridge
  •  Implant Option – Fixed Hybrid
  • Full upper rehabilitation
  • Full lower rehabilitation
  • Four on the floor (I don’t know what this is but I have heard it)

Make sure when you are creating these custom in-office procedure codes that you mark them to not bill to insurance because you will have to bill things out by line item in order for your chart to look accurate, but this is a way you can provide a total fee estimate that the patient will understand.


Now when you treatment plan one of these codes, you can note everything that is included in the note field (see the screen shot here). Then, when you print out the estimate for the patient, it will only show a full fee and then what is included in that fee. Let me know what you think. I would love to hear some feedback.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

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.

One thing I have been doing with my practices is teaching them to transfer that ownership back to the patient in a way that is beneficial to the patient and not too time-consuming for the practice. The easiest, most efficient way I have found is using the eCentral Insurance Eligibility feature inside of your Dentrix software. Have you seen the “E” all over inside of your Dentrix software and wondered what it does? CLICK HERE to learn how eCentral Insurance Manager works.  Let me share with you some of my tips in using this amazing tool.

What has worked really well for many offices is to print a copy of the electronic benefits for the patient and then send a copy to the patient’s Document Center for your reference. Now, how you hand off the information to the patient makes a big impact on how much you will be babysitting in the future. So here are some of my best tips . . .
  • When you print out the eligibility benefits from eCentral for the patient, I would highlight a few key pieces of information (insurance company phone number, maximum and coverage percentages).
  • Hand the patient the printed copy of his or her benefits and say something like, “I took the liberty of checking on your dental benefits for you and here is what we received from your plan. Notice I have highlighted some of the important things about your plan. One thing I want to point out is that if there is a procedure you need that is not on this print out, then we don’t know how much your insurance company will pay so we estimate zero.”
  • Let patients know if they would like more details about their plan, you highlighted the insurance company’s phone number for them.


Using eCentral Insurance Eligibility not only as a tool for your practice efficiency but also using it as a resource for your patient will help you to strengthen your relationships with your patients and they will trust you more. Trust will help build your practice and grow your referrals.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

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?

Open the Treatment Planner or the Treatment Plan Panel in the chart and click on Print. For most of you, this is how you would print a treatment plan estimate for the patient … but have you ever printed the Practice Treatment Case Report? Even though I am all about going paperless, this report gives you some great search tools to find patients who have unscheduled treatment and have been marked with a particular status.

Going back to my February article, if you have marked the case with a particular status, then you can search for it. For example, let’s say you have marked a case as Accepted or High Priority, then it is now searchable. Click on the Print > Practice Case Status Report and select your filters. See the image below to follow along.
  • Fig 1 shows how you can choose a Case Status. You can select all the cases you have marked as accepted and get a call list from this selection. If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know how much I love the Treatment Manager. However, it does not have this filter (which I think is a great tool).
  • Fig 2 shows how you can select a Case Severity. If you are marking your cases as Immediate, Eventual or Optional, then you can filter your report by one of these choices.



Using these visual tools can help you and your team communicate better and give your admin team the options necessary to generate a really good call list when they are following up with patients and trying to fill openings in the schedule.

These are just a couple of examples of how you can use the status and severity tools. You can discuss with your team how they would best serve your practice.