Wednesday, November 14, 2018

End-of-Year Tasks: Part One

It’s the most wonderful time of the year……to prepare for next year! 

As the end of the year rapidly approaches, there are important tasks that need to be done at your office to prepare for 2019. Over the next few weeks, we’re going to talk about some of these tasks to get your office ready for the new year.

Let’s start by talking about office fee schedules. It’s important to review your office fees on an annual basis. You can evaluate and compare your office fees to others in your area by using a guide like the National Dental Advisory Service Fee Report Book. This can help you to see how your office fees compare to other dental offices in your zip code and if you should consider raising your fees. Raising your office fees can improve the revenue for the practice, but you also don’t want to price yourself out of the market.


Updating the Office Fee Schedule
Once you have made a decision about how you want to update your office fee schedule, you can choose to increase your fee schedule by a percentage or by a dollar amount using the Auto Changes button in Dentrix. Open the Office Manager and select Maintenance > Practice Setup > Fee schedule Setup. Select the fee schedule you want to change, then click Auto Changes. 



You can choose to update all procedure codes, or you can enter a procedure code range. From this screen you also have the ability to increase (or decrease) fees by a percentage or a dollar amount. 



You can also manually edit individual fees by procedure code.  Open the Office Manager and select Maintenance > Practice Setup > Fee Schedule Setup. Choose the appropriate fee schedule, then select View/Edit. Select a procedure code from the list, make changes to the AFTER column, and then click Save.

Updating Insurance Fee Schedules
When you are thinking of updating fee schedules, it’s also important to request an updated fee schedule from all insurance companies your office participates with.  Depending on the insurance company, you may have to call or e-mail the provider relations department or you may have to send a written request. Once you have received the updated fee schedules from the insurance company, you can edit your fee schedules in Dentrix to reflect the insurance fees. 

Open the Office Manager, and select Maintenance > Practice Setup > Fee Schedule Setup. Choose an insurance fee schedule, then select View/Edit.




Select the code you want to edit from the list of procedure codes. For example, if you wanted to update the fee for an adult prophylaxis, select D1110 and click in the AFTER field and enter the updated fee (in dollars). You can move on to the next procedure code to update, or if you’re done, choose Save, then Close.





One thing to keep in mind when you update or edit a fee schedule, is that when you enter or create a new treatment plan for a patient, the updated fees will be reflected. Patients who have an existing treatment plan will not reflect the updated fees. 

Taking the time to update your office fees and requesting information from your insurance carriers so you can update your insurance fee schedules, will result in higher production and collections for the office. I find that making this a part of my end of year routine ensures that it gets done consistently on an annual basis. 

Join me next week when we’ll discuss more end-of-year tasks. 

If you have questions about this or other topics, 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, November 7, 2018

Over the Counter Collections

Collecting payment from patients at the time of service is very important. Many procedures we do in the office incur a lab fee and expensive materials and so it’s important for your office to cover its cost. How do you track if you’re collecting at the time of service?

Payment a patient makes for services rendered that day are considered to be over the counter collections. A good goal for your office is for over the counter collections to be 35-45% of your monthly production.

To differentiate over the counter collections verses other payments, you can set up additional payment types in Dentrix. For example, you probably already have cash payment, check payment, and credit card payment set up in Dentrix. But did you know you can also add OCC (over the counter collections) cash payment, OCC check payment, and OCC credit card payment as options, too?

To add payment types, open the Office Manager, and select Maintenance > Practice Setup > Definitions. Select Payment Type in the Definition Type drop-down list. Type the name of your new payment type (for example OCC Cash) in the Definition Text field, and then click Add




Repeat these steps for the other over the counter payment types you want to add. Then train the staff who enter patient payments to use these new OCC payment types when a patient is paying for a procedure done that day.

Once you have the OCC payment types set up, you will be able to differentiate them from other payments on your daily and monthly reports.

The over the counter collections should be monitored monthly. At the end of each month, run a report to show collections based on payment type. A good report for this would be the Payment Summary Report in the Practice Analysis. In the Office Manager select Analysis > Practice, and then select Reports when the window opens. Set the desired Date Range and check the Payment Summary option.



This report will give you all the payments, separated by payment type, for the selected date range. Now you can total all the over the counter collections payment types and divide this by the monthly production. This will give you the percentage of the over the counter collections.

By generating this report on a monthly basis, you have a good gauge of whether you are collecting enough from patients in the office at the time of service. Remember, a good goal is to have 35-45% of your monthly production should be from over the counter collections.

If you aren’t reaching this goal, you may want to examine why:


  • Are patients being presented with a treatment plan prior to the appointment date so that they can be financially prepared?
  • Is someone on the team uncomfortable asking a patient for money and therefore not collecting?
  • Have patients been properly informed about the office policy regarding paying at the time of service?

Addressing any issues in this area can help to improve your cash flow and your bottom line.

You can also view over the counter collections in the Practice Advisor Report. You are able to designate which payment types this report considers over the counter collections. In the Office Manager, select Analysis > Practice Advisor. Choose Practice Advisor Setup then Assign Payment Types as Over-the-Counter Collections. Move the payment type(s) you have set up as OCC into the right pane using the arrow buttons, and click OK to save.



Collecting from patients at time of service helps to maintain healthy accounts receivable. It also helps the office to cover overhead and costs such as lab fees and materials.

Is your office collecting enough at the time of service? Try using the reports I described to find out.


If you have questions about this or other topics, 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.