Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Understanding Unfilled Hours on your Practice Advisor Report

If you have ever had the opportunity to study the Practice Advisor Report in Dentrix before, you know that it is a very powerful tool. There is so much information available in this one report—information like:
  • Unfilled hours for the dentist and hygienist(s)
  • Production totals for the entire practice, production totals based on position in the practice (dentist or hygienist), and production totals by each provider.
  • Numbers of treatment cases presented vs. treatment cases accepted so that you can track your overall case acceptance percentages. 
  • Collection information, broken down by provider and accounts receivable information. 
  • New patient information, including referral sources. 
  • Broken appointment information, including lost revenue from broken appointments and number of broken appointments not reappointed. 
Over the next few weeks we will talk about some things you can do to ensure your Practice Advisor Report is showing you accurate information. Because the report will only be as accurate as the data you have entered into Dentrix.

One of the items listed in the Practice Advisor is Unfilled Hours. Unfilled hours are open time on your schedule. Unfilled hours can cause the practice to lose money because there is not a patient in the chair generating revenue, and the practice is paying overhead expenses as well as the hourly salary for the hygienist or assistant to work. This makes me think of the old saying “Time is money,” which in a dental office is very true. 


In order for the unfilled hours to be accurately reflected in the report, you must have each provider’s working days and hours set up properly in Dentrix. In the Appointment Book, select Setup > Provider Setup. Choose a provider ID, then click Setup. Set the hours for each day that the provider works. Having each provider’s hours properly set up is necessary for the Practice Advisor to calculate unfilled hours correctly.

Unfilled hours are broken down on the Practice Advisor Report by dentist totals and hygiene totals, as well as by individual provider ID numbers. The Practice Advisor also gives a value to those unfilled hours which would be lost potential revenue because there was not a patient on the schedule. 

This can be very valuable information. After reviewing the information, ask yourself, why are the hours unfilled? In my experience, this often happens because the office hasn’t been making a routine effort to reach out to patients and get them scheduled (or rescheduled) for appointments. 

What Can You Do To Reclaim those Unfilled Hours?

You can reduce your unfilled hours for hygiene patients by working on your Continuing Care List regularly. Send e-mails and texts to patients who are due for continuing care through Communication Manager in eCentral. If patients don’t respond, follow up with a phone call.

To reduce doctor unfilled hours, you should work on your unscheduled treatment plans regularly. The Treatment Manager is great tool to use to contact patients with unscheduled treatment plans. Call the patients and explain their treatment and why it is important. Be ready to present them with payment options like CareCredit to make the financial aspect of their treatment easier to accept. 

I find that many times when an office is busy, these lists aren’t worked as frequently. Set time aside every week for a team member to work on these lists to keep a consistently full schedule. 

The Dentrix Practice Advisor provides a great deal of valuable information which can be a powerful tool in evaluating the overall health of your practice. Join me next week and we’ll talk more about another aspect of the  Practice Advisor Report that can help you identify areas of you can focus on for better profitability.

If you have any questions 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, December 5, 2018

A First-of-the-Year Task To Put On Your Schedule

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve been talking about tasks to be done at the end of the year. This week let’s talk about a task that is very important to perform on January 1st (or the 2nd if the office will be closed for New Years’ Day).

Resetting patients’ insurance benefits in Dentrix allows the software to accurately calculate patient and insurance portions. This is also important so that treatment plans and balances due are calculated properly. At the beginning of the year, it’s important that Dentrix calculates the patient’s deductible into their patient portion and that it recognizes a patient has their entire insurance maximum available. This can be a valuable tool in presenting treatment plans to patients. They may be more likely to accept a treatment plan knowing that their dental insurance will pay a portion of the cost.

In order for the insurance benefits to calculate correctly in Dentrix, you must first make sure that you are assigning the benefit renewal month to insurance plans. In the patient’s Family File, double-click the Primary Dental Insurance block. Click the Insurance Data button and assign the benefit renewal month using the drop-down menu.


Assign the month that the patient’s insurance maximum and deductible renew. Many times, this will be January, but there are some plans that renew at the beginning of another month.

Now that you have the renewal month assigned to the insurance plan, you can reset insurance benefits for those plans.  The process of resetting patient’s insurance benefits happens as a part of the Month End routine in Dentrix. 

If you are using Dentrix version G6.5 or newer, you will use the Month End Task Scheduler which is located in the Ledger. The Task Scheduler has taken all the tasks that were performed as a part of Month End and Month End Wizard and has allowed you to determine which tasks are preformed and when. My favorite part of the Task Scheduler is that you do not have to close all your computers out of Dentrix for the Task Scheduler to run.

Resetting Insurance benefits is under the Purge and Reset Category within the Task Scheduler. I recommend that you run this on the first day of each month in order to accurately calculate patient’s insurance benefits. Resetting Insurance Benefits can be run manually at any time by right-clicking on Reset Insurance Benefits from the list of Available Tasks, then selecting Run Now. You can also add this task to your Monthly Queue and it will run automatically based on the parameters you set.



Updating patient’s insurance benefits is very important so that you can properly estimate patient’s insurance benefits and patient out-of-pocket expense. By resetting insurance benefits, you will reset the patient’s insurance maximum and deductible amounts in Dentrix. This is an especially important task on January 1st because many plans renew as of that date. 

Keep your patient’s insurance information up to date and current in Dentrix by resetting patient’s insurance benefits. Doing this will help you to provide accurate treatment plans and account information.

Special Note from Henry Schein One: Dentrix has released an update that addresses issues that are impacting some customers in two areas: (1) resetting insurance benefits and (2) running month end and task scheduler.  The update is available to you now in the Dentrix Update Manager. Even if you have not experienced these issues, we ask that you complete this high-priority update at your earliest convenience (no later than December 28, 2018).  Please note that running the update will require that all users exit Dentrix.


For questions on this or another 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.