Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Year in Review

Year end is right around the corner and that means the questions start rolling inabout 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. Also, if you have upgraded to Dentrix G6.6, you can use the new Month End Task Scheduler to run the tasks automatically.

Over the past few weeks, I have exploited the Month End process to the point that you probably don’t want to hear about it any more … so let’s talk about a few other things to think about as the end of year approaches. This is a time for celebration and raising a glass to an amazing year. Find out what was amazing this year in your practice and, during your last team meeting or holiday party, give a toast to these amazing things.
  • Did you improve your patient retention this year? If you are watching this number on your Practice Advisor Report then you know what I am talking about. Have you been able to close down the back door so patients are not leaving your practice and you have less attrition? For more information about this number on the Practice Advisor Report, read back on “How wide open is your back door?"
  • Give thanks to your largest referral sources. Run a Referred By Doctor/Other and Referred By Patient report to find out who or what referred the most patients to your practice and give them a shout out with either a simple “Thank You” or a monetary gift of thanks.
  • Were you able to bring down your accounts receivable? If you are proud of the systems you have put in place for managing your accounts receivable, then brag about it. Let your team know if you started using the Collection Manager for managing patient balances which has made a significant different in your bottom line. Or if you added patient financing to your financial options and it has increased your payments on the day of service, then celebrate this as well. If this is one of your goals for 2018, stay tuned for a blog post coming in January.
  • Give your hygienists some love if they have increased their production per day or increased the percentage of patients pre-scheduling their next visit. Both of these numbers can be found on the Practice Advisor Report and deserve recognition.


Enjoy your holidays and have fun celebrating all your successes this year. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

No More Excuses for Running the Month End Tasks

I installed Dentrix G6.6 yesterday so I could play around with the new features and I am excited about all of them. However, there is one that I want to focus on today. A couple of weeks ago, I asked, “Why are you not Running Month End?” I am amazed at the number of offices that are not up to date on the month end process and have every excuse in the book for why they have not preformed this task. With Dentrix G6.6, there are no more excuses not to run the month end process. In fact, you can customize your month end process to fit the needs of your practice. Let me tell you what I mean.

First, there is no excuse that everyone must be closed out of Dentrix to run month end. In G6.6, that requirement has been removed so you can run the month end tasks anytime you want, even in the middle of the day.

Next, you can piece out your month end tasks and decide when to run them based on your practice. In the previous version of Month End, it would complete multiple tasks all in one fell swoop. These tasks included . . .
  • Put ledger transactions into history
  • Age your patients account balances
  • Move the ending balance from the previous month into the beginning balance of the new month
  • Lock up your clinical notes into history
  • Reset your patient’s insurance benefits used back to zero
In the new version of the Month End Task Scheduler, you can choose these tasks separately or schedule them to run on a routine schedule without you asking. In the new Month End version, here is how you could manage these tasks separately . . .
  • Close Transactions – This new feature in the Task Manager affects the numbers and reports and could be scheduled on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. You could also run it manually whenever you want. This task will move the ledger transactions into history, age your account balances and move the ending balance into the beginning balance of the new month. I would still recommend scheduling this on a monthly basis.
  • Move Clinical Notes to History – You can now have full control of when you lock up your clinical notes instead of having it tied to the month end process. This is a great feature for your clinical team and will give you peace of mind that your clinical documentation cannot be deleted or altered. My recommendation would be to schedule this task on a daily or weekly basis.
  • Reset Insurance Benefits – Now if you are not quite ready to close the transactions on your patient’s ledger but you want your treatment plan estimates to be more accurate, you can reset the insurance benefits on its own each month. Whoo Hoo!!! I would recommend scheduling this task on a monthly basis.


There are no more excuses with the Dentrix G6.6 update on managing your month end tasks and keeping your system running smoothly. You now have more freedom and flexibility.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

15 Ways to Make Scheduling Easier

During this year’s Business of Dentistry Conference, I had the pleasure of teaching four courses with seven time slots.  It shows how committed Henry Schein is to providing continuing education and giving the audience a variety of topics.  One of the Dentrix topics I taught was titled “15 Ways to Make Scheduling Easier” and I thought this would make a great blog article and would give me the opportunity to give you yet another resource to have in your back pocket.

Here is the list we talked about during the course and I have pointed to articles that will give you more information about each item in the list. 

  1. Appointment Book Keyboard Shortcuts
    1. F1, F2, F3, etc (Function Keys) correspond to the View on your Appointment Book. 
    2. Shift + F2 - Opens the Select Patient dialog box and, after you select a patient, opens the Appointment Information dialog box for that patient.
    3. Ctrl + D - Switches the Appointment Book to the Day view.
    4. Ctrl + W - Switches the Appointment Book to the Week view.
    5. Ctrl + M - Switches the Appointment Book to the Month view.
  2. Customize the Initial Reason Box – this box is used for the most common things you schedule that would not require a tooth number or surface.  You can add multi-codes, single ADA codes and your “in-office” here.  CLICK HERE to read a related article.
  3. Adjusting Procedure Time Units – in the ADA procedure code setup you can adjust the length of time for reach procedure and also assign the / for assistant time and the X for doctor time. Go to the Office Manager > Maintenance > Practice Setup > Procedure Code Setup.
  4. Customize the Appointment Display – Here you can customize what you view in your appointment from the names to phone numbers.  Some of my favorite new additions is age, mobile phone and additional provider.   CLICK HERE to read a related article.
  5. View Appointment History – this keeps track of all appointment changes and will track which team member made the change if you are using passwords.
  6. Setup Flip Tabs – this is quick way to move forward in the appointment book using a set amount of time.  From the Appointment book click on Setup > Flip Tabs Setup and set your parameters.
  7. Searching for patients who are scheduled today – An easy way to see all the patients on the schedule for a particular day is to use the Appointment tab on the Select Patient window.
  8. Use the Schedule Next Button – this button is inside of the appointment window and can be used to easily schedule a patient from today with their next visit.  Just click on Schedule Next, add the appointment info and pinboard to schedule.
  9. Close the office on a selected day – instead of using events for everything, I would recommend closing the day. This will help with the visual aspect on the appointment book and also help the Practice Advisor Report be more accurate. For more information on the appointment book setup CLICK HERE
  10. Scheduling an Event – Just right click and block out a team meeting or luncheon.  CLICK HERE to read more about how to use events.
  11. Seeing all appointments for a family at once – you can find this in two different ways.  Double click on the patient’s appointment and then click on the Other Appts button or highlight the patient’s appointment and click on the More Information icon on the toolbar.
  12. Use the Wait/Will Call Button – use this to store an appointment for a short period of time on the Unscheduled List.  For more information on using the Unscheduled List more effectively CLICK HERE
  13. Use the ASAP List – this list can be such a critical element to keeping your schedule full.  I wrote an article about how to use this list in a much more creative way, CLICK HERE to read it.
  14. Use the Open List – Similar to the ASAP list you can use this status if a patient is open to changing their appointment.
  15. Generating a Scheduled Patient Summary – this is a great tool for the entire team and especially a new team member. 
I hope this list helps you realize some of the scheduling tools available that you might not be using.  

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

MEGA Multi-Codes

Treatment planning is probably one of the most asked for training topics that I get because the team feels like it takes too long and there should be a better way. There are many things with treatment planning that can be more efficient and will help your team save time and create more consistency. When we think of treatment planning, let’s look at the process from start to finish and see where we can make efficiencies.
  • Using multi-codes can help treatment planning be faster and more complete. Did you know that you can put a multi-code inside of a multi-code? Yes! You can create a six-procedure multi-code and add it to another six-procedure code to give you a full treatment plan of 12 procedures. Since I have been working with several specialists who have extensive treatment plans with multiple steps, it has been a lifesaver to be able to create these MEGA Multi-Codes buttons.
  • Once you have your Multi-Codes created, then attach them to a Procedure Button. Using a button can reduce the amount of “clicks” significantly each day and can help the clinical team identify a picture with a treatment plan instead of searching through a list.
  • Create a templated treatment plan so wherever you print out the estimate for the patient, it will come out looking exactly the same. From the Treatment Plan panel or Treatment Plan module, click on the printer icon then select all the parameters you want and the display you like, then click on Preview so you can look at it. When you settle on 2-3 displays that you like, then save it by clicking on the lower left button that says Save Options. I would recommend having different views for your PPO plan patients, insurance patients and cash patients. Then your team members can click on the drop down menu at the upper left corner and selected a templated print option. This will guarantee that the Treatment Plan estimates will look the same from any workstation you are working from.


Anytime you can create consistency and efficiency, it will help your team be more productive and eliminate frustrations. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Get Ready . . . Dentrix G6.6 is right around the corner!

As I continue to update you about some of the amazing things I learned at the Dentrix Train the
Trainer meeting a couple of weeks ago, today’s post is to show off the cool feature updates coming out with Dentrix G6.6.

By now, you may have been receiving notifications that the Dentrix G6.6 update is available and ready for download. This is an important update because there are a few requirements that you all need to be aware of.

Before I talk about all the cool stuff, I want to bring you up to speed on the requirements so you can be informed before you click “yes” to download.

  • Dentrix Passwords Required for All Users - In the first half of 2018, Dentrix will begin requiring passwords for all users with minimum complexity requirements. In anticipation of that release, please prepare today by ensuring your passwords are enabled and that all users have appropriate access to the various areas of Dentrix. You can also start using the new complexity requirements now that include (1) a minimum of eight characters and (2) at least one uppercase and one lowercase alpha character, at least one numeric character, and at least one special character (e.g. #@$*).
  • New Operating System Requirements Coming - Effective with the release of Dentrix G6.6 — and for future, planned Dentrix versions — the following minimum operating systems will be supported:

o   Servers
§  Windows Server 2016
§  Windows Server 2012 Standard/Datacenter (R1/R2)
§  Windows Server 2008 Standard/Enterprise/Datacenter (R2 SP1)
o   Workstations
§  Windows 10
§  Windows 8.1 Professional/Enterprise
§  Windows 7 Professional/Enterprise/Ultimate (SP1)

Now, let’s talk new feature updates.
  • The Month End Wizard is being re-branded as the Month End Task Scheduler. Probably the best part of this feature upgrade is . . . . You are no longer required to close all Dentrix modules to run month end! I know, right? Super awesome!
  • You can schedule daily, weekly and monthly tasks and reports to run automatically for you. This is amazing because if you have read my Best Practices Series for Daily, Weekly and Monthly, you will be able to set up your Task Scheduler to run many of these reports automatically.
  • There is now a new Appointment List Manager. The ASAP, Pinboard, Unscheduled List and Appointment List have been combined into one list that is searchable.  In additional to this you will be able to send out a text message to groups of people directly from this Appointment List in order to help you fill last minute openings. 
  • Your Active Patient Base is about to be more accurate.  Many of you post a broken appointment fee on the ledger or other "fake" codes for administrative things and in turn this has always updated the patients last visit date which skews your Active Patient Base numbers.  In G6.6 you will be able to post a procedure on the ledger without it updating the LVD.  I say "Whoo Hoo"
  • And my absolute favorite . . . more new features and updates to the Questionnaire module.

·       There are many, many more new features as well. However, the ones listed above were some of my favorites.


Reach out to your local trainer for special pricing on Dentrix G6 training for your team. If you don’t know who your local trainer is, I can find out for you. Just email me directly at dayna@raedentalmanagement.com

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Why are you not running Month End?

Why are you not running the month end process? Is it because you might need to edit something on the ledger or change a clinical note? These are not good reasons to hold out on running your month end process. Now I realize some of you might not agree with me. However, I think most accountants and attorneys would agree that this is not best practices.

Running the month end is so important and critical to having accurate numbers and legal documentation. I was recently teaching a class and one of the audience members refuses to run month end because she wants the ability to edit the ledger. If I was a business owner, this would send up huge red flags for me.

The month end process tackles five key things that help your system run better and more secure…
  1. It locks up your patient ledger into history, so you cannot make edits to charges, payments or adjustments. You can still edit an open claim if needed. If you need to delete a claim and resend the charges to a different insurance plan, you can still do that as long as the claim is still open and no payments have been made to it.
  2. It locks up your clinical notes into history, so you cannot edit the note or delete it. If you need to edit a clinical note or it was accidentally posted to the wrong patient, you can make an addendum. This process is the legal and more responsible way to handle your clinical documentation.
  3. The month end process will reset the insurance benefits used back to zero if the insurance plan renews that month. This will help your team give more accurate treatment plan estimates.
  4. During month end, the ending balance from the previous month will be moved into the beginning balance of the new month. This will ensure that your accounts receivable balances are more accurate on reports like the Practice Analysis, Analysis Summary and the Provider A/R report.
  5. Your patient balances are moved from one aging category to the next during the month end process.  If you never run month end, then your account balances will always stay current.


Be responsible and put the month end process at the top of your priority list each month. There are new updates coming with the month end process so keep your eye out for a blog on that coming soon.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Create different fees for the single PA vs. your PA in a series

Insurance companies are really starting to crack down on how they pay for routine diagnostic X-rays and even going as far as launching audits on dental practices that they feel are “over taking” these X-rays, a critical piece to taking care of our patients. One thing I am hearing a lot is the routine series of 4 bitewings and PA’s being downgraded or even denied based on the FMX or Pano fee. What this means is that the insurance company sees the fee you are submitting for the routine series is higher than the fee for the FMX or Pano. Let me give you a tip to help fix this.

If you are using fee schedules in Dentrix and you are posting the normal D0220 and D0230 along with the D0274 codes, your patient ledger might look okay. However, remember if you are, then using the DX2012F claim format to send out full fee on your claim form the total combined fee could exceed your contracted fee and the insurance company will deny it. If you are not using fee schedules, then you might be overriding the fee on the ledger to reduce the fees for the PA’s before you create a claim which is creating a lot more work for you and your team.

What if you just created new procedure codes for your series PA’s instead of using the ADA-issued codes? Yes, it can be done. Back in 2013, I posted up a blog that talked about this same issue when you want to attach a tooth number to the PA and sometimes not. The same concept applies here. You can create two new codes so you can have different fees attached to each one. Then you could even create a multi-code for your routine X-ray series add it to the initial box so you are always pulling the right fees into your hygiene visits.

Go to the Office Manager > Maintenance > Procedure Code Setup > click New, then fill in the blanks:
  • Description – This will show on the insurance claim and the patient billing statement
  • ADA code – My recommendation would be D0220. and D0230. Notice that I put a period at the end of the code because the insurance claim will on take four characters, so it will drop the period off the claim form.
  • Abbv Description – This will show in the appointment
  • Treatment Area – Select Mouth so the code will not ask for a tooth number
  • Fee – Create a fee so your series will not exceed your FMX or Pano fee


Now with the five characters, you will not be able to add this code to your Initial Reason box inside of the appointment. Therefore, you have the option of creating a multi-code for your entire series and adding the multi-code to the Initial Reason box. Remember that all multi-codes need to have at least one time unit so if you add or subtract this multi-code to your appointment, you may need to adjust the time of the appointment.

If you want to re-read my blog from 2013 on this similar topic CLICK HERE to be directed. I hope this tip helps you bill out X-rays more accurately and avoid unnecessary denials to your diagnostic X-ray series.


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

More tips for getting your claims paid faster

Last week, I attended the annual Dentrix Train the Trainer conference. At this conference, I get to be the student and learn about all the new features being release in the next year. Over the next few months, you will be reading about some of the amazing updates coming out with eServices, Dentrix Pay and your Dentrix software.

Today, I want to give you some things I learned about the current eClaims service and how you can increase the success of your claims getting paid faster.
  • Always batch your claims and send out in a group. What I learned at the conference is that if you send claims in real time or what might be called a “one off” claim, there is a greater chance of getting a duplicate claim.
    • You can turn off the option of sending claims in real time so it will stop asking you every time you create a claim on the ledger. Go to the Ledger > File > Direct Processing Options and uncheck the “Display Real Time Payor Notice”. The is very common with Metlife claims.
    • When you batch your claims, you will get one set of eClaims reports instead of a set of reports with every real time claim. This will save on the amount of reports that display on your Batch Processor. This is more of an annoyance than a tip for quicker payment.
  • If you are not sure of the Payor ID, the Payor Search tool on the Dentrix website is more up-to-date than the Payor ID list in the Insurance Info window. Remember that the Payor ID is the electronic address and, if you have the wrong Payor ID listed, it will slow down the payment of your claim. CLICK HERE to be directed to the Payor Search Tool on the Dentrix website.
  • You should NEVER have to resend a claim if you have a DC#. What is a DC#? It is the Document Control Number or the confirmation number that the insurance company has received your claim. With this number, you can always find your claim and hold the insurance company accountable to find it. For more info on this tip, CLICK HERE to read more about the reports and confirmation numbers.


If your office sends a lot of claims every day, I would recommend sending a batch of claims at lunch and then sending a batch of claims at the end of the day. This will break up the process and give you a smaller list of claims to go through each day. My recommendation is that claims get sent out within 24 hours of date of service.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Letter Merge vs. Quick Letters

In my last post, I talked about sending out a letter as a reminder to patients who have unused dental benefits and also have unscheduled treatment. After I wrote that blog, I started to think, “Does everyone know how to use the Dentrix Quick Letters and the Dentrix Letter Merge features?” Today, I would like to spell out the difference in the two features and also give you some instructions on how to customize your own letter.
  • Quick Letters works wonders when you want to send a customized letter to one patient. You can merge personalized patient information into the letter without having to manually type in the information. For example, you can merge patient name, address, remaining insurance benefits, patient balance, last payment date or last visit date.
  • The Letter Merge feature is amazing for sending out a bulk set of letters to a group of patients. This is a great way to target a list of patients who fit your specific parameters and you want to send them out a customized letter with the same content. For example, you could send a letter to patients with a specific medical alert, insurance company or who have had a particular procedure code set complete.

No matter which feature you use, the procedure of adding the letter into Dentrix is basically the same. The first thing to remember about adding a new letter into your system is that it must be saved in the Dentrix letter folder. You cannot just save it on your desktop or C: drive. How do you find your Dentrix letter folder? Go to the Office Manager > Maintenance > Practice Setup > Preferences > then click on the Paths tab. You will see the Letter Template Path and click on Open Folder. This will take you to where all your custom Dentrix letters reside. Now that you know where to save your letter, you are ready to create your own letter.

Now, if you have a letter already built, you could open it, add in the merge fields and then save it to your Dentrix letter folder or you could build a new letter from scratch, add the merge fields and save it in your Dentrix letter folder. In Dentrix G4 PP8 update, there was an add-in for Microsoft Word 2007 or higher to make it easier for you to add the merge fields into your letter. You will find this add-in under the Mailings tab in MS Word. The merge fields help take an ordinary letter and make it personal. After you have created your letter and saved it into the Dentrix letter folder, you are ready to add it to your Quick Letters or the Letter Merge.
  • For Quick Letters, open up the feature and click on New, select Browse and it will take you to the Dentrix Letter folder. Find your letter, highlight it and click on Open. Now just give your letter a name and you are good to go. It will show up in the list alphabetically by title. If you need to edit your template, click on Edit Template. When you are ready to mail your letter, click on Build View. NOTE: When you build a letter, make sure you do not click on Save because it will write over the top of your merge fields. My recommendation would be to print one copy of the letter to send to your patient and print one to the Dentrix Document Center to save a perfect copy.
  • To add your new customized letter into the Dentrix Letter Merge feature, go to the Office Manager > Letters & Custom Lists, select a category and click on New and it will open the Letter Merge window. Click on Browse in the upper right corner to find your letter, highlight it then click on Open. You can have your custom letter in both the Letter Merge and the Quick Letters. Now give your letter a name in the upper left corner and you are good to go. When you are ready to create a list of patients to send this letter to, you will come back here to the Letter Merge and select Edit instead of New. Then select your parameters for the patient list, click OK and then Create Letters.

I realize letters might seem old school, but in some cases, they can make an enormous impact. People these days don’t expect to receive a letter in the mail so, when they do, they open it because it might be important. It is so easy these days to ignore or delete emails but it is harder to ignore a letter sitting on the kitchen counter. It will get opened and read.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Putting a little pressure on your patients to schedule unscheduled treatment

My tip for September is to start adding some pressure to patients who have unscheduled treatment
and have remaining insurance benefits. Hopefully throughout the year, you are managing your Treatment Manager Report on a weekly basis so you are continually planting those seeds with patients about being proactive about their dental needs. However, there are always those patients who wait until the last minute to take action and might need a little more incentive.

One thing I have been hearing more and more is the dental practice doing a fee update regularly in January. I am happy to hear about doctors keeping their fees up to date and not waiting three to four years to update their fees. If you do a fee update each year, this is a good time to poke your patients with a stick who might be procrastinating to schedule their dental treatment. If you are sending out a campaign, either by mail or email, you could let your patients know that their treatment plan fees are good until January 1st and, at that time, you will be updating fees.

So we have two things happening in this article that I want to explain so you can implement it in your practice. First, filtering your list to find patients who have unscheduled treatment and still have remaining insurance benefits. Second, preparing your treatment plans so, when you do a fee increase, you can update your existing treatment plans to reflect the new office fees.

One of my favorite reports for managing unscheduled treatment is the Treatment Manager. You can filter this report by date, provider, patients and also whether they have remaining dental benefits. Usually during the year, I would not recommend filtering this report because I never advocate allowing dental insurance benefits to dictate your treatment decisions. However, when the national statistic states that only 5-8% of dental benefits are being used, we need to put some pressure on patients to maximize their benefits.

From the Appointment Book, open the Treatment Manager and select the parameters you want to select so you get a list of patients that fit your selections. Now you can call, send a letter or save this list in an Excel document if you want to export it out to your email system. My recommendation would be to let your patient know that he or she has dental benefits remaining to use up and, on January 1st, the treatment plan fees will be going up due to a regularly scheduled update.

In the treatment planner, you can assign an expiration date to your patient’s treatment plan so, when you do a fee update, you can include or exclude expiration dates so you can honor fees for some patients. From the treatment plan panel in the patient chart or the treatment plan module, click on the Supporting Information tab. Here you will find the settings for the expiration date where you can select one of the default settings or manually set the date to whatever you want it to be. Then, in January when you do a fee increase, you will have more control over whose treatment plan fees are updated and whose fees will remain the old fees.


At the end of December, I will write a more detailed article on how to update your fees and give screen shots to help you with this process. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Two tips for faster claims payment and benefit checks

Last week, I attended the AADOM (American Association of Dental Office Management) annual conference and I have learned about many new products and services that integrate with your Dentrix software. I will be writing about some of these in my upcoming posts and newsletter. On Saturday, I attended an insurance panel where my friend and fellow consultant, Teresa Duncan, was the moderator between the insurance industry and an audience of office managers.

On the panel of insurance industry representatives was a rep from GEHA, Dentegra, NEA and Unlock the PPO. One of the questions that Teresa posed to the panel was, “What can the office do, or stop doing, to help them be more successful in the claims processing arena?” 

Here was their recommendations . . .
  • Automation – There are many software solutions that you can use to help the office automate the process of collecting insurance benefit information and send the most complete dental claim possible. The dental team spends hours on the phone calling insurance companies to look up dental benefits when there are services that offer this type of information on an automated basis. Also, there are many dental claims that come into the processing center that are either incomplete or missing important diagnostic information.
    • My recommendation is to use the Dentrix eCentral Insurance Manager system for checking on benefits for your patients. It checks benefits automatically for patients on the schedule so you can have up-to-date information before the patient comes in or you can call the patient if the status has changed since the last time he or she was in. I realize that not every insurance company has chosen to participate in the eCentral program, but if you can get 80% from this automated system, it will still save you a ton of time.
    • When you use the Dentrix eClaims system, it will alert you of procedures that require some kind of documentation so you can make sure to attach an X-ray or perio chart of the image before the claim is sent.
  • STOP SENDING PAPER – I was surprised at this because I thought everyone was sending electronic claims at this point but the panelists said this is one of the top things on their list. It does not help your claim if you send your claim with items highlighted with a bright pink highlighter. You should know that every claim that comes into the processing center is scanned as soon as it comes in from the mail room. If you have bright pink (or any color highlighter), it will scan in black and your claim will get kicked out. Your best chance at getting your claim paid in the fastest way possible is to send it electronically.


I have talked about both of these things before and it was good to get validation from people working at the dental insurance companies and working in the dental insurance industry that the best option for dental insurance benefits and claims processing is via an electronic method. For more information on these topics, click below to be directed to other articles.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

It's that time of year again . . . being prepared for storm season

Last year at this time, I wrote a blog about Hurricane Matthew as I sat in my hotel room in Jacksonville, Florida. What we are experiencing now with Hurricane Harvey and Irma helps me realize that this blog article will need to be an annual post this time of year. 

I want to send my thoughts and prayers out to my friends and followers in the Texas and Florida areas.  

As we watch the news, people are reminded of how to be prepared to save their lives, their pets and the evacuation process. If you are a small business owner, you also need to prepare on how to save your business or at least have minimal damage. The dental practice is a small business and the most important piece of your business to try and save is your patient data. It is up to you to protect your patient data, even in the eye of a hurricane.  

Since what I wrote last year is still relevant, here are the important paragraphs from my post from October 3, 2016. If you would like to be re-directed and read it in it's entirety, CLICK HERE

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. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Do I break the appointment or just deleted it?

The single biggest pain point in the dental practice is holes in the schedule. WhenWhat is the difference between breaking an appointment and deleting an appointment?” Just the other day I encountered an office that was leaving the missed appointments on the appointment book so they could track them. What happens in these situations is that the office has not had any formal training or been given any resources on the best practices for managing the appointment book so they just make up their own system for tracking missed appointments.
I write about keeping the schedule full, it is always a big clicker. One question I receive a lot is, “

Keeping your schedule full is a management system that needs to have a protocol in place so that the entire team knows what to do when a patient misses an appointment and what steps to take to fill that opening. Today, I would like to give you all some best practice tips on what to do with the appointment if the patient does not keep the scheduled appointment.

  • Move the appointment to the Unscheduled List if the patient does not reschedule and you want to follow up with the patient. If you do not want to lose the appointment details, then you can store the visit on the Unscheduled List for a short period of time so you can make a couple of follow-up calls. There are two ways to get an appointment onto the Unscheduled List
    • Wait/Will Call the appointment – Use this if the patient did not show and gave you adequate time to fill the open time. Some offices have a 24- to 48-hour no-show policy so, if the patient cancels outside of that policy, then I would use the wait/will call feature.
    • Break the appointment if the patient is a no-show or cancels inside of your cancellation policy. When you break the appointment, it will put a note on the Office Journal and track the missed appointment on the Family File for future reference.
  • Delete the appointment if you do not need to follow up with the patient and just want to remove the appointment off your appointment book. When you delete an appointment, it will only show up on the Audit Trail and this task can also be password-protected.


For more information on this topic and read other articles, click the links below . . . 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

What's the best way to block out my Appointment Book?

“I need to make sure my team knows where to schedule appointments because I feel like there is no organization with the schedule,” said a doctor during one of our recent training sessions. “What is the best way to block out our schedule so my team know where to put the correct type of appointment so we can be more productive and less stressed out?”

These were the exact words from a doctor who was trying to create a system for scheduling and didn’t know where to begin with setting some standards for his team. We talked about the different methods for blocking out the schedule inside of the Dentrix software so that he could make the best decision for his practice.
I have seen offices use both the Perfect Day Scheduling feature and the Events feature for mapping their schedule. Today, I wanted to give you some pros and cons for using these tools to help you make the best decision for your appointment book.
  • Perfect Day Scheduling is designed to map out the schedule and give you a guideline for your team so they can easily see what type of appointment goes in that place. The great thing about this feature is that you can place multiple blocks throughout the day and, once you set it up, it will be set up every day until you change the setup. You can set up different colors to symbolize different appointment types. One complaint I get from doctors is that you can easily schedule over the top of the Perfect Day Scheduling blocks. In my opinion, this is more about the discipline of the team member scheduling to the system than the system itself. If you want to read up more about Perfect Day Scheduling, CLICK HERE.
  • Using Events to map out your schedule can be done and it will fix the issue of not being able to schedule over the top of the block. With an event, the team member would have to delete the event in order to schedule an appointment. Events can be created to span over multiple days and you can set them in your appointment book for up to a year time frame. Just right click on the appointment book and click on Create Event. You can also set the Events in different colors to symbolize different types of appointments. 

Our goal here in The Dentrix Office Manager blog is to not only give you great tips and tricks, but also give you resources to make the best decisions for your practice.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Medical Billing or Bust . . . spend your Friday afternoon with me at BDC

An office I have worked with up in the the Seattle area is coming down to the Business of Dentistry Conference to attend my Medical Billing or Bust course on Friday.  They will no doubt have a great time experiencing all that the BDC has to offer but I was honored that the main draw for them was learning about medical billing in the dental practice.

My mission in life is to be a voice, a resource and an advocate to those who are in need.  Before I was a certified Dentrix trainer, blog author and speaker I always tried to help my dental patients get the most out of their dental and medical insurance benefits.  I bring this passion into my Medical Billing or Bust course.



Here are some other articles about Medical Billing . . . 



Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Top 3 tips from my BDC course . . . "15 Ways to Make Scheduling Easier"

It is Business of Dentistry month and the countdown to August 17th has started. Since transitioning my own office to Dentrix in 2003, becoming a Certified Dentrix Trainer in 2006 and then accepting the position of the Dentrix Office Manager blogger in 2011, attending the Business of Dentistry Conference is at the top of the list. I love networking with other Dentrix users and offering any resources I can. It is extremely fulfilling.

This year, I am slated to teach seven courses over the two-day event and I wanted to give you a sneaky peek into one of them today. On Saturday, I will be teaching “15 Ways to Make Scheduling Easier” and I have no doubt this will be a great topic. This article will not go through all 15 things for you, but give you my top three items from my course and point you to some blogs that I have written in these areas.
  • Appointment book shortcuts – Everybody loves a shortcut. If you will not be able to attend the BDC this year, here is a blog I wrote that you might like on this topic. CLICK HERE
  • Looking up family appointments – Do you ever have Mom on the phone and she asks, “When are my kids’ appointments?” or “My husband wants to know when he is due for his checkup.”?
  • Using your lists properly – This is a valuable resource to keeping your schedule full. CLICK HERE for an article that relates.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Dealing with crazy insurance limitations

Insurance plans are driving us crazy! The benefit coverage creations that some of these plans are coming up with are just ridiculous. Because of that, you have to figure out how to enter it into the computer system so you can give your patients the most accurate treatment plan estimate possible. Some plans will cover only gold crowns on molar teeth while others won’t pay for gold crowns at all. I was in a pediatric office recently and one thing they struggle with on a regular basis is the sealant coverage because it is different and all over the board.

With these tips today, hopefully you can customize your treatment plan estimates for a patient and use your Dentrix software in a more efficient way.

First, let’s look at when an insurance plan will pay for a procedure on one tooth but not another because of plan limitations or patient frequency limitations. There is a way you can override the insurance plan coverage table and payment table directly. When you are in the patient chart or the treatment planner, double click on the procedure code and it will open up the edit window. As a note, this is also where you could put a procedure note or refer it out to a specialist.


In the upper right section of this window, you will see an Override Dental Insurance Benefits. You can put a check mark in the Prim Ins and then the insurance coverage. If they have secondary, you can do the same thing. This technique also works well if you are estimating over two benefit years or if the crown is paid on the seat date or if there is a missing tooth clause.



The next tip is if a procedure is not covered at all on this plan and would apply to any tooth number or any patient on this plan. The best way to handle these types of situations is by using the Payment Table. The Payment Table overrides the Coverage Table and is great for things like posterior composite downgrades, nightguard coverage, grafting, etc.



This type of data would apply to any patient that is on this plan and is not patient specific. Remember that the Payment Table will override the Coverage Table.

For more articles on insurance and estimating, click on the titles below . . .



Tuesday, July 18, 2017

What happens if I back date a clinical note?

Your clinical note is part of your legal documentation for your patient’s chart. When I say, “legal documentation,” to me, this means that it cannot be deleted or altered without some kind of security feature in place. There are only a few places in Dentrix that I consider “part of the legal documentation” and the clinical note is one of those places. So what exactly happens to make it a secure place to make clinical notes and what happens if you need to edit a note or back date a note?

First, it is important to know that the clinical note will be locked into history if you sign the note or you run the month end process. If you need to alter the clinical note after it has been secured, the only way to do this is with an Addendum. The Addendum will attach itself directly to the original note with today’s date. After you have saved this Addendum, it is also locked up into history and cannot be altered or deleted. If you ever need to print out your patient’s clinical notes, you will see the date of entry and the date of the Addendum.

Now, there may be times when you will need to back date a note. For example, if the doctor comes in the office on the weekend to see a patient and he does not write up the clinical note on that day, he will need to back date the note. Another example might be if you forgot to write up your clinical note for a patient visit (we are all human) and you need to back date it. If you are back dating a clinical note into a month that has already been closed out, your note will automatically be secured into history. Also, if you back date a note, it will show the date it was created and the date it was backdated to. See image below.


Knowing how your clinical note documentation will present when printed is important to know if and when you need to show your clinical documentation. The Dentrix software does a great job to show the dates and times so you can feel confident in the integrity of your clinical documentation.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Give your patients freedom to fill out forms from anywhere

Last week’s blog titled “How wide open is the back door ofyour practice?” talked about patient
retention and how to track it using the Practice Advisor report. I think it is important to track and monitor your numbers to know the health of your practice, especially your patient retention. You invest a lot into attracting new patients and I would expect the same or more from you to keep your existing ones.

One thing that comes to mind with both new patients and existing patients is the topic of patient forms. Nobody likes to fill out a form these days and the office struggles with the time it takes and scanning paper. Making the task of filling out forms more convenient, easy and faster for both the patient and the practice will help create happy, loyal patients.

Image if your patients could fill out their new patient forms from their mobile phone while they are sitting on their couch watching the MLB All-Star game this week or a patient of record updating his or her health history while sitting on a train during the commute to work. You don’t have to image this. It is reality.

While I was working with a practice recently, the office Wi-Fi was down so we did not have the opportunity to test the new electronic forms from the office website. With no Wi-Fi, every team member got on her mobile phone and filled out the new patient forms from her phone. It was amazing! We had team members ranging in age from 23 to 60 typing in information to submit.


In the newest version of Dentrix, the Questionnaire forms have been redesigned in an HTML format. This gives the patient more accessibility to the forms and gives the office better management of the forms. Don’t make your patients print a PDF from home and bring in a paper form that your team must scan. Give your patients the freedom to fill out patient information from anywhere.

CLICK HERE for more information on how to integrate electronic forms from Dentrix into your website, mobile device or tablet.

Monday, July 3, 2017

How wide open is the back door of your practice?

How wide open is the back door to your practice? I asked this question to a doctor during one of our training sessions because he was so convinced that his patients did not leave his practice. He knew that his patients were scheduling their next visit and loyal to his practice. This practice was very successful and had very good production and collection numbers … but they were totally in the dark about what their patient retention number was.

I opened their eyes with the click of a button   . . . okay, maybe three clicks.

When we opened the Practice Advisor Report during the training session, our entire agenda went out the window and we started down a completely different path. Patients were pre-scheduling their next visit at a rate of 54% and the patient retention was at 66%. I thought the doctor was going to fall off his chair.

Numbers tell a story and monitoring your key performance indicators is a must when running a small business. Remember, your dental practice is a small business. Dentrix and a group of dental practice management consultants put their heads together many years ago and developed the Practice Advisor Report to help you monitor these KPIs. One of the most important numbers comes on page 3 of the report.

From the Office Manager, click on Analysis > Practice Advisor Report. Click on Practice Advisor Report and it will open up a new window. Here are my recommendations when you are ready to look at the numbers for your patient retention.
  1. Select the last day of the previous month in the Generate Report as of:
  2. Select Procedure Date for more accurate numbers
  3. Highlight your active providers
  4. In the Continuing Care section, select only your recare continuing care types (Prophy, Perio, Recare, etc). Do not select X-rays or anything that doesn’t relate to recare.
  5. Click Preview and it will launch the report

The Patient Retention is located on the third page titled Continuing Care. You can see the image below to get a visual of what it looks like. For more information on this topic, CLICK HERE to be directed.




Now if you have never set up this report before, I can send you an info sheet that outlines my recommendations or we can setup an online training session. Email me directly for either option. You can also check out other blogs about the Practice Advisor within this blog. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Don't get caught with outdated treatment plan fees

With today’s ever-changing dental insurance industry, employers are moving benefits from one company to another all the time. As you may know from my previous blog posts, I am a huge fan of using fee schedules in Dentrix to help your team provide accurate treatment plan estimates, collect better at the time of service and send out billing statements in real time. If you are using fee schedules and your practice is contracted with several reduced fee dental plans, you will want to have a plan in place to making sure your patients’ treatment plan fees are as accurate as possible.

We all know that patients sometimes drag their feet about accepting treatment and go out and purchase that Coach handbag instead . . . because they had to have it! So when you are following up on the unscheduled treatment or the patient is coming in again for his or her 6-month recare visit, I would recommend updating the treatment plan fees so that you are always quoting the most up-to-date fees.


It is super simple and worth the two clicks it takes to do it. My new rule of thumb is that if the procedures were not treatment planned today, then update it. The quickest way to do it is from the appointment book (since you probably already have that open anyway). Single click on the patient appointment and click on the Treatment Planner icon or right click on the appointment and select Treatment Planner. Then click on the Update Fees icon and click on Update. That’s it.


Now you can move ahead with printing, signing, presenting, scanning and saving the patient treatment plan as you normally would and knowing you have prepared the most up-to-date treatment plan possible.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Credit Card option for Insurance payments just added in Dentrix G6.4 release

If you haven’t heard already, Dentrix G6.4 was recently released and there are few new features that are worth bragging about. I upgraded my system a couple of weeks ago and checked out the new features in my demo database. I love how Dentrix is staying relevant to the changing industry and giving the team features that they are asking for.

There have been many improvements to the functionality of the Ledger. When you are dealing with money, insurance and A/R, it is always important to have the most efficient and user-friendly systems as possible. Here are the new highlights to the Ledger . . .
  1. You can now select Credit Card as a payment method for insurance payments. When you are applying an insurance payment to a claim, there is now a credit card option in the drop-down menu for payment type. Now, even though I recommend to all my offices to opt-out of credit card payments from insurance companies because you end up paying a 2.5 – 4% merchant fee which ultimately reduces your collections, Dentrix needed to add this feature to keep up with the ever-changing dental insurance landscape. I applaud them with this new feature. It will definitely help the practice balance the day sheet and keep the accounting straight.  Thank you Brad!
  2. There is a new Payment Agreement Manager and it is located on the Ledger not the Office Manager. For the dental practice that takes a lot of payments and wants a report to only show the payment agreements in the practice, this could be helpful. If your practice is going to allow for payments, you need a way to track them. My favorite report continues to be the Collection Manager Report for managing all accounts receivable, including Payment Agreements, so I will be on the lookout for feedback on how this new report is working in the office.
  3. The Payment Agreement Setup has also been updated so check that out as well. In my practice, we did about 25-30% of our practice production in ortho so we had many patients on Payment Agreements for their monthly ortho payment. This worked well. I created a special instruction sheet specifically on the ortho setup in Dentrix and if you would like a copy of it, please email me directly.


There are also many fixes from previous releases and little tweaks to features that had been released previously. For the complete rundown, there is a Dentrix 6.4 release guide that I can send you or you can find it in the Dentrix Resource Center.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Every patient has unique situations so let's chart them correctly

Every patient is unique and making sure his or her tooth chart accurately represents his or her uniqueness is important when you are transitioning from that paper document to the digital document. Patients have diastemas, missing teeth, unerupted teeth, retained primary teeth and lots of other situations that you want to document on the tooth chart. How do you keep it all straight and chart it as accurately and quickly as possible?

Using the Dentrix conditions is a way that you can chart all those unique features that you find and want to make note of. You can customize the conditions with different paint types, edit the description and add them to your quick buttons for faster charting. In this article, I am going to go through a few of the common conditions and show you some screen shots of what it might look like on the tooth chart.

  • Diastema – The default condition in Dentrix for Diastema is Open Contact. So if you look in your list of Conditions and find open contact, that is the best one to use. If you want to edit the description, you can go to the Office Manager > Maintenance > Practice Setup > Procedure Code Setup > select the Conditions category, select the Open Contact and click on Edit. Then you can edit the description to say Diastema if you want.
  • Missing tooth, closed space – If you have a patient who had a four-bi extraction as a kid and the orthodontist closed the space, you can use the Drifting Mesial condition to show that the space has been closed. This could also be used if a patient lost a tooth and the teeth have moved into the open spot.
  • Unerupted tooth – If your patient has a 3rd molar or another tooth that has not fully erupted yet, you can use the condition Unerupted tooth. I have seen offices either use the U on the tooth to mark it or circle the tooth. You can choose what works best for you. If you want to change how it paints on the tooth chart, go to the Office Manager > Maintenance > Practice Setup > Procedure Code Setup > select the Conditions category, select the Unerupted and click on Edit. Then there is a drop-down menu for Paint Type.


If you have a patient with a retained primary tooth, then you would highlight the tooth and click on the Primary/Permanent icon on the tool bar and click on Change Selected to just change that one tooth. Other options here would be changing all the teeth to primary or all to permanent.


I think having an accurate picture of your patient’s dentition helps with the visual aspect and makes the perio chart more accurate. Now that many offices are using the digital record instead of paper, it is important that you treat the digital chart with as much detail as the paper chart.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Avoid the awkward moment of not having the lab case

Joe walks in for his scheduled appointment to deliver his nightguard and your dental assistant escorts Joe to the treatment room, puts his bib on and lets him know she would be right back to deliver his nightguard. Ashley goes back to the lab area to locate Joe’s nightguard only to find that his nightguard is not at the office. She frantically calls the lab to find out where Joe’s nightguard is and the response is, “We can have it to you by tomorrow.” Well, that’s not good enough. You need it today. How did this happen? Where was the breakdown in communication?

This common situation can be avoided with a couple tweaks in your system. Your Dentrix software can help you track both the patient appointment and the lab case.

Any time the patient has an impression for something, there will need to be a delivery or seat appointment scheduled. Either the patient will be scheduled or the patient will wait for your call to schedule when the case comes in. When you create the appointment, make sure to include all the details of the appointment and attach the lab case to the appointment. For all the details of how to use the Lab Case Manager, refer back to my blog called “What is the Status of the Lab Case?”

If the patient is scheduling, you are good to go and you will see an icon with a blue L with a white background on the appointment so you can easily see if the case is in the office or still out. When the lab case is set as received, the icon will turn into a white L with a green background.

Now, if the patient is not scheduling, then I would recommend doing all the above steps … except put the appointment on the Wait/Will Call list so you have a way of tracking the appointment. This will hold the appointment on the Unscheduled List so you have a way of keeping track of it. For more information on the Unscheduled List, please click here.


Good tracking systems will ensure that your patients don’t walk in for an appointment when your team is not prepared and will avoid those awkward moments when you have to let Joe know that he will have to reschedule to another day.