Saturday, April 22, 2017

Three options for treatment consents . . . PROS and CONS for each method

Any time you are trying to choose between option 1, option 2 and option 3, there are always pros and cons to think about. Your patients rely on you to provide the details between a bridge, implant and partial denture because they don’t always know what questions to ask. The same goes for trying to choose between option 1, option 2 and option 3 in your Dentrix software when deciding on how you are going to deal with consent forms for these treatment options. Yes, there are three different options for how you could deal with patient consent forms and I am going to give you some pros and cons for using each method.


Option 1 – Scan and shred using your existing paper consent forms
  • PROS – Your logo can be on the form so, when your patient takes it home, the branding for your office follows the patient home. The form can be as long as you want it to be. There is no character limit. Most likely the form is in a Word Document so you can edit it anytime you want. The forms would be nicely organized in the Document Center because your team would select the correct folder when they scan it.
  • CONS – This method uses paper. If you are trying to be paperless, this defeats the purpose. Your team will have to scan the form, which takes time. A scanned document becomes an image and uses more space on your server drive than an electronic form. The form does not automatically get locked up into history unless you sign it again in the Document Center.
Option 2 – Use the consent forms in the treatment plan module/panel
  • PROS – The consent forms are linked directly to the treatment plan case. The signature is captured electronically, creating an electronic form instead of a paper form. The details are automatically sent to the Document Center and put into their own folder.
  • CONS – It’s not very pretty. You do not have the formatting and branding options with these consent forms so you will have to compromise on style. There is a character limit so you will need to get creative if your consent forms are wordy. The form does not automatically get locked into history unless you sign the form in the Document Center.

Option 3 – Use the Questionnaire Module for consent forms.
  • PROS – This method is truly an electronic form because it is not saved as an image and uses electronic signatures. The formatting is much more customizable and looks like a nice form. You can capture up to three signatures if you need to and, when signed, the form is automatically locked into history. The forms are easy to use and nicely organized in the Questionnaire Module. You could upload these forms to your website or iPad for patients to fill out.
  • CONS – You still cannot put your logo on the questionnaire. The form is date stamped but not directly attached to the treatment plan.


Whichever option you choose in your practice, it is important to have that informed consent from the patient. The consent forms should be in a place that is easy for your team to use, edit and manage. It’s a personal choice. Hopefully this information will help you make the best choice for your office. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Take the anxiety and frustration out of scheduling

In a busy office, finding appointment time can be time-consuming and frustrating. Most scheduling coordinators I work with have created a system of using the day or week view, looking for open time. As you flip the red arrow moving forward and then forward again, the anxiety level starts to go up as your patient sits on the phone with you while you look for the first open time slot.

But what if you could narrow down your search and have the computer generate a list of the open time for you based on certain criteria instead of the endless clicking through the appointment book? Using the Dentrix search tool, you can customize your search for the patient you have on the phone and the conversation with your patient would be directed at exactly what they are looking for.

Here is how I would envision a conversation with a patient calling in to schedule an appointment with their favorite dental hygienist . . . .

Patient: Hi Dayna, this is Linda Jacobsen. I just received your email that I am due for my checkup.
Dayna: Great! Thank you for calling. Let’s find a time for you. Do you still want to schedule with Jenny? (I know she likes Jenny because I have noted it as her PROV2 in the Family File)
Linda: Yes, Jenny is the only person I want to see.
Dayna: Jenny works on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Which day works best for you?
Linda: A Wednesday afternoon would work best.
Dayna: Great, let me plug in that information and see what I can come up with for you.


Now I would open up my Scheduling search tool and see the list of dates and times that will work with Linda’s window. Select the parameters in the search tool that match your patient’s requests and click on Search/View. This will give you a list of available openings in your schedule and you can now go through the list with Linda and see which date she wants.



You have not only made it more personal for your patient but you have also eliminated the day to day or week to week endless search. 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Five tips for improving your cash flow

How’s the cash flow in your practice? It could be better? Collections and cash flow is a multi-faceted
system and it requires the involvement of the entire team. Here are my top five tips to help you increase your cash flow and lower your accounts receivable.
  1. No one gets on your schedule without a financial arrangement. Your patients need to know what to budget for before they walk in for their appointment. I realize there are many consulting firms that advocate not to talk to patients about money. However, I feel you are putting your practice and your relationship with your patient at risk if you don’t. You must have the money conversation and allow your patients to make an educated decision on how they will pay for it. 
  2. Your entire team needs to know what that financial arrangement is. I have seen the clinical team dismiss a patient thinking they were free to go when only to find out that the patient had a co-pay for today’s visit. Then the front office is all in a tizzy because they did not collect from the patient. There are many ways you can communicate with your team about the patient’s co-pay for today’s visit. You can put it in the note box of the appointment, write it on the route slip or discuss it in the morning huddle. However you decide to relay the information, it must be done because the entire team is responsible for the collections in the practice.
  3. Anyone in the practice should be able to collect money. If your front office is shorthanded for the day or maybe the financial coordinator is on the phone with another patient, anyone on the team should have the skills to collect money. Create a protocol sheet for how to collect cash, credit cards and outside financing payments (i.e. Care Credit). If a patient owes money today, he or she should not walk out the door. It is costing you a ton of money.
  4. Send billing statements two or three times a week. This changed my life when I was working in a practice and it will yours too. I devoted an entire article to this topic and you can read all the details by CLICKING HERE.
  5. Use the Collection Manager to track your accounts receivable. In the past when I was doing Insight Seminars for Henry Schein and I would get to the section on the Collection Manager Report, I would ask the audience who was using it to manage their accounts receivable. Maybe a third of the hands would go up. I am still amazed at how many people do not use this report and are still using the Aging Report for accounts receivable management. You can read an entire article on this report by CLICKING HERE.


If you take these five tips to heart and put them into your regular routine, you will see an increase in your cash flow and a reduction in your stress level. It’s all about the systems and how you manage them because you don’t have a money tree growing in your backyard.