Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Spring Cleaning for Your Dentrix Database


My neighborhood had a community yard sale recently and it got me thinking about de-cluttering and spring cleaning. In our homes we tend to collect clutter over time and we also do it in our Dentrix database. The problem with clutter in your Dentrix database is that it can cause reports to be inaccurate. Let’s look at some of the places we tend to collect clutter in Dentrix and talk about some ways to clean it up.

1. Patient Database
Does your office have a protocol for inactivating patients after several failed attempts to schedule? For example, some offices will attempt to contact a patient three times before changing the patient’s status in the Dentrix Family File to inactive.

If you have attempted to contact a patient to schedule and have been unsuccessful, you can send them a letter letting them know you have been trying to reach them, and since they haven’t responded, you are going to change their status in your system to inactive.

When I sent the Inactive Patient letter, I was surprised how many patients responded. They did not want their status changed to inactive because they thought that meant they had to find a new dentist. Sending this letter enables you to clean up your patient database and may motivate some patients to schedule.

You can find the Inactive Patient letters in the Dentrix Office Manager. Click on Letters & Custom Lists, then click on Inactive Patient.



When you change a patient’s status to Inactive, be sure to delete their Continuing Care in their Dentrix Family File and to mark any outstanding treatment as Rejected, otherwise the patient will continue to show up on your Unscheduled Treatment Plan List and Continuing Care List. 

2. Provider Database

Do you have old providers listed in your database? This can be frustrating when you are scheduling an appointment and must choose from many providers. You can inactivate old providers in the Dentrix Office Manager > Maintenance > Practice Setup> Practice Resource Setup.


When inactivating a provider, you must choose a replacement provider. I recommend using a replacement with the same job classification, replace a doctor with another doctor, a hygienist with another hygienist.

To inactivate providers, all computers must be logged out of Dentrix and you should have a current back up. 

3. Employer and Insurance Database

Employer and Insurance databases often get cluttered. Duplicate entries happen in almost every office. It’s a good idea to have an office discussion about how employer names and insurance carrier names should be entered to avoid duplicates. For example, do we want to enter the insurance carrier name as Blue Cross Blue Shield or BC BS?

When entering a new insurance plan into the Dentrix Family File for a patient, I recommend searching by group number first to see if that group already exists in your Dentrix database. This can help to avoid duplicates.

To clean up your insurance and employer database, you can join plans and purge plans. Open the Dentrix Office Manager, click Maintenance > Reference, and then either Employer Maintenance or Insurance Maintenance.


It’s important to note that Dentrix only allows you to purge insurance plans that are not attached to a patient and have no outstanding claims attached.

To find out which plans are not attached to a patient you can run an Insurance Carrier List from the Office Manager > Reports > Reference > Insurance Carrier List. Check Include Subscribers. This will provide you with a list of insurance carriers and the patients they are attached to.



To check for any outstanding claims, run an Insurance Aging Report. From the Office Manager, choose Reports > Ledger > Insurance Aging Report.

I recommend purging and joining employers and insurance plans on an annual basis. Make it a part of your year-end routine to get a jump on your spring cleaning. You may not have a need to do it that frequently if you and your team commit to preventing duplicate entries. Create a policy on how employers and insurance plans should be entered in Dentrix and train the team. Have them get in the habit of searching for an employer or insurance plan before entering a new one.

For more tips, read the Dentrix Magazine article titled 6 Ways to Clean up Your Dentrix Database

Enjoy your de-cluttered Dentrix database! Please feel free to contact me with any questions at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com



Charlotte Skaggs, Certified Dentrix Trainer
Charlotte Skaggs is the founder of Vector Dental Consulting LLC, a practice management firm focused on taking offices to the next level. Charlotte co-owned and managed a successful dental practice with her husband for 17 years. She has a unique approach to consulting based on the perspective of a practice owner. Charlotte has been using Dentrix for almost 20 years and is a certified Dentrix trainer. Contact Charlotte at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Tracking Production Accurately

I was training in a practice recently where there is one doctor and two hygienists. The hygienists are responsible for reaching a daily production goal. Both the hygienists and the doctor want to be able to run accurate reports for production and collections so they can set attainable goals. Dentrix offers some features which help to post production and collections accurately by provider so you can run reports at the end of each month and evaluate each provider’s production.

In Dentrix G6 there is a great tool to help you split procedures completed during the same appointment between providers. This is something that you usually do in the case of a hygiene appointment. The prophy would be posted to the hygienist and the exam would be posted to the doctor.

In the Dentrix Appointment Book, when you click the Set Complete button, you can click one of the completed procedures from the list and change the provider. That procedure will then be posted to the Dentrix Ledger with the correct provider. I really like this feature. It is a reminder to check and make sure the provider of each procedure is correct.



I recommend checking your day sheet at the end of each day to ensure all procedures were posted to the correct provider. I always find it frustrating to find an exam posted to a hygiene provider at the end of the month. It’s a needle in a haystack to find and correct it. I find that reviewing daily is more efficient.

Dentrix G6 also has tools to help you ensure that collections are posted to the correct provider. When you are posting a patient payment in the Dentrix Ledger, there is a “Split By Provider” option. This will split the patient payment between the appropriate providers.



Also, when you are posting an insurance payment, be sure to use the “Itemize by Procedure” option. The insurance payment for each procedure will be posted to the appropriate provider. And, finally, don’t forget to check that adjustments are posted to the correct providers too!



Using these tools in Dentrix, you can make sure both production and collections are posted to the correct providers. Accurate tracking and reporting of production and collections by provider allow the practice owner to evaluate which providers are most productive. This could be beneficial if the practice owner is considering a bonus or incentive system. In some offices, a hygienist must maintain a daily average production goal to be eligible for an increase in pay.

If you have questions or would like more information on this topic, please e-mail me at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.

Charlotte Skaggs, Certified Dentrix Trainer
Charlotte Skaggs is the founder of Vector Dental Consulting LLC, a practice management firm focused on taking offices to the next level. Charlotte co-owned and managed a successful dental practice with her husband for 17 years. She has a unique approach to consulting based on the perspective of a practice owner. Charlotte has been using Dentrix for almost 20 years and is a certified Dentrix trainer. Contact Charlotte at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Minimizing Open Appointments


Unfortunately, patient cancellations are a fact of life in every dental office.
I was in an office recently where the office manager complained she would get several messages from patients on a Sunday night, canceling appointments for Monday. The office schedule was typically very busy and booked out far in advance. The office wished they had a list of patients who would like to come in sooner to fill their schedule.

I recommend keeping a list of patients who may want to come in sooner for an appointment. It’s a huge time saver to have a list of patients ready and waiting to come in. There are many patients who may want to come in sooner. For example, a patient who is retired or works from home may have a schedule that allows them to be flexible for appointments. A patient with a toothache may be very eager to get started on that root canal as soon as possible. Or a patient who can only come in for a 4:00PM appointment may be willing to come at 4:00PM on any day. These are patients you can easily call and offer appointments to fill open appointment times.

Dentrix has appointment lists for these very types of patients. When the patient has an appointment scheduled but wants to come in sooner, you can assign these schedule types: Fixed, Open, or ASAP.

I suggest using Fixed for your patients who need a specific day and time and can’t be flexible and come in on short notice. Open would be used for patients with a flexible schedule who may be able to come in on short notice. ASAP would be used for patients who want to come in as soon as possible. (Dentrix defaults the schedule types to Fixed unless you customize this in the practice appointment setup.)

To assign a schedule type to a patient and have the patient show with a status of “open” or “ASAP,” open the Dentrix Appointment Book, double-click an open time, and select a patient to display the Appointment Information dialog box. Click the Schedule field and select ASAP or Open.



You can access the ASAP and Open lists from the Appointment Book, under the Appt List menu. In Dentrix G6.5 and newer versions, the ASAP and Open appointment lists have been combined into one interactive list that you filter to view the patients you want to see.

I particularly like this new feature because it makes the appointment lists more user friendly. You can select from ASAP, Appointments, Pinboard and Unscheduled Lists. Or you can create custom lists by clicking on Setup > Appointment List View.



The new Dentrix Appointment List is more interactive than previous versions because not only can you access the patient’s Office Journal directly from the list, but you can also access the patient’s other Dentrix modules, such as the Dentrix Family File, Patient Chart and Ledger. I find it helpful to have easy access to these modules when I’m calling a patient to schedule.

Once you have selected an Appointment List, or created a custom list, you can sort the appointments by clicking on the column header. You can use this tool to sort the appointments by name, by provider, by operatory and by appointment reason. I like to sort by appointment reason, especially when using the lists to fill an open appointment. I can start by calling the patients who need a high production procedure, like a crown, to maintain a productive schedule.

Try using these appointment lists to fill open appointments more easily. They give you a list to work from that is accessible from all computers. Also, team members can confidently contact these patients, knowing that the patients have expressed an interest in coming in sooner.

Please e-mail me at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com if you have questions or would like to learn more.


Charlotte Skaggs, Certified Dentrix Trainer
Charlotte Skaggs is the founder of Vector Dental Consulting LLC, a practice management firm focused on taking offices to the next level. Charlotte co-owned and managed a successful dental practice with her husband for 17 years. She has a unique approach to consulting based on the perspective of a practice owner. Charlotte has been using Dentrix for almost 20 years and is a certified Dentrix trainer. Contact Charlotte at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.


Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Managing Your Valuable Time


There are not enough hours in the day!

Do you find that you are so busy during the workday with patient care that sometimes you forget to do tasks like following up with an insurance company, checking if a patient made a scheduled payment, or doing a staff member’s performance review?

I had this problem and I found that the best solution was to become more organized. To-do lists and reminders help keep me on track throughout the day.

During the day, I always have Dentrix open, so it makes sense to have my to-do lists and reminders in Dentrix where they are easily accessible.

There are two places that I recommend for reminders.

The first is in the Dentrix Appointment Book. This reminder can be viewed by everyone in the office. This would be a great place to put a note like, “Today is Suzie, the hygienist’s, birthday.”

In the upper left corner of the Appointment Book, you will see “Note.” Click it to open the Appointment Book Day Note. It will be yellow if there is a note on that day and gray if there’s not.



The other place for reminders is the Dentrix Office Journal. The Office Journal is where we make notes regarding correspondence with patients. But did you know, as a staff member, you also have an Office Journal?

From the Dentrix Office Manager, open the Office Journal. If you are logged into the computer and you have passwords enabled in your office, your office journal will open. If you don’t have passwords enabled, the Office Journal will prompt you to choose a provider or staff member from a list.

Using your personal office journal, you can make reminders for yourself.
From your office journal, click edit, then click add.



Select “Reminder” and choose a date for your reminder. Give your journal entry a brief description and type more detailed information in the Note box.

Try making reminders for yourself. Open your personal office journal in the morning and keep it open so you can refer to it throughout the day.

You can even set your office journal to open automatically when you open Dentrix in the morning. From the Dentrix Office Manager, click Maintenance > Practice Set Up > Preferences. In the bottom left corner, check the Automatically Launch Office Journal box.



I find that being more organized really helps me manage my time better and ensures that all my tasks are completed at the end of the day. To-do lists and reminders can help keep you on track. If you have questions or would like to learn more, please e-mail me at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.


Charlotte Skaggs, Certified Dentrix Trainer
Charlotte Skaggs is the founder of Vector Dental Consulting LLC, a practice management firm focused on taking offices to the next level. Charlotte co-owned and managed a successful dental practice with her husband for 17 years. She has a unique approach to consulting based on the perspective of a practice owner. Charlotte has been using Dentrix for almost 20 years and is a certified Dentrix trainer. Contact Charlotte at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.