Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Using the Appointment Checklist

Do you ever have this happen in your office? The hygienist wants to know if you have received X-rays from her new patient’s previous dentist. The doctor wants to know if his 2:00 pm patient was reminded to pre-medicate, and the assistant wants to know if finances were reviewed with her patient who is scheduled for a crown.

The Appointment Check List in the Dentrix Appointment Book can be a great tool to communicate this type of information throughout the office, and it can eliminate questions and confusion, and ensure the entire team is on the same page.

When the schedule coordinator in your office makes a new patient appointment, she can request the patient’s X-rays from their previous dentist and check the corresponding box in the Appointment Check List in the Appointment Information window. When anyone else in the office opens that appointment, they can see that box is checked, indicating that X-rays were requested.



Once the X-rays are received, she could then check the box to indicate the x-rays have been received. By training your team to look for and use the Appointment Checklist, everyone can be on the same page when it comes to information they need to know about upcoming appointments.

Here’s another example. When calling to confirm appointments, the schedule coordinator can remind patients who require pre-medication to take their medication prior to the appointment and check the box in the Appointment Check List.

The Appointment Check List can serve two purposes: to remind you to perform certain tasks before an appointment, and to act as a visual cue that anyone on the team can see in the Appointment Information window to ensure that tasks were completed.

When you are reviewing the day’s appointments you will know if a task has been done. For example, if you are able to see that a patient has been reminded to pre-medicate, you can move on to the next task. This can help to streamline your daily tasks without having to move to another module or area in Dentrix.

The best part about the Appointment Check List is that it’s completely customizable so if there are specific tasks your office performs prior to a patient’s appointment, you can include those in your checklist.

To customize the Appointment Check List open the Office Manager > Maintenance > Practice Setup > Definitions. In the Definition Type drop-down list, select Appointment Check List.


Some of my personal favorite items to include on the list are:
  • X-Rays Requested
  • X-Rays Received
  • Confirmed Pre-Med
  • Verified Insurance
  •  Reviewed Finances
I’ve found the above items to be common tasks that I want to make sure are completed if they apply to that patient’s appointment. I recommend you meet with your team and discuss the Appointment Check List. What are common things that they want to know about a patient’s appointment?

Once you have decided on the items you want to include on the list, customize the Appointment Check List to meet the needs of your office and see how it can improve communication and streamline your daily tasks. 

As always, e-mail me with 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 15, 2019

Using the Search Payments Tool

Has this ever happened in your office?

Mary Jones comes in for a return appointment following her cleaning last week. She says she made a check payment of $25.00 last week, and it has cleared her bank, but it’s not posted to her Ledger. How can you go about finding where that payment went?

Luckily, in Dentrix, you have the ability to search for a payment. You can find the Search Payments option in the Ledger. From the toolbar, select File > Search Payments.


In the Search Payments window, you have many filters that you can use to search for payments including check number, date range, insurance carrier, amount, guarantor name, and payment type. I’ve found that using Search Payments is a very useful tool.

In the case of Mary Jones, you can use Search Payments to find a payment that was posted to the wrong guarantor or patient. To find which account the payment was incorrectly posted to, use the filters for the payment amount, the date range, and the payment type.

In the Amount section, I would enter $25.00 in both From and To fields. Under Select Payment Types, select the check payment option. In the Select Date section, enter the date range from 05/06/2019 and to 05/10/2019 in the appropriate fields (since she said she made the payment last week). If you know the check number, you can also enter that information in the Check Information section. Then click Search.


A list of all payments fitting those parameters will be displayed on the bottom half of the page, and you can determine where the payment was posted in error. Here you can see that the payment was posted to Michael Jones, instead of Mary Jones.

Let’s look at another example when the Search Payments feature could be useful tool: when a patient requests a list of payments made within a certain time frame.

Mary Jones asks for a list of all payments made on her account during the year of 2018. In this situation, use the Select Date section and enter a date range from 01/01/2018 to 12/31/2018. Next, in the Select Guarantor section, use the search arrow to select Mary. Jones as the guarantor. Since she wants a list of all payments made, in the Select Payment Types box, check All.  Then, select Search to display the list of payments that meet the chosen parameters.


Once you have your results, you can print this list for the patient. You also have the option to print a cover page.

These are just two examples of when Search Payments can be very useful. Keep in mind that you can narrow down the amount of matching results by adding as much information as you have in your search filters. And, you can use this Search Payments tool to find either an insurance payment or a patient payment.

Familiarize yourself with this feature and let me know the ways you use it. I think there are many situations where this would be a great tool! 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 8, 2019

More Information? You Better Believe It!

As a Certified Dentrix trainer I often get asked the question, “What can I do to access the data I need more quickly and easily?” The More Information icon can give you the data you need very quickly. I find this tends to be an under-utilized icon that can be a big time-saver for your office.


You can find the More Information icon in the Dentrix Appointment Book, Patient Chart, Family File, Ledger, and Document Center.

After choosing a patient and selecting the icon, the More Information window gives you the following valuable information about the patient and any other family members (providing they are in the same Family File):


A. Appointments

  • Past, future, and unscheduled appointments
  • Appointment Reason (what the highlighted appointment is for)
  • Indication if a lab case is attached

B. Continuing Care

  • Due dates for each continuing care type and if an appointment is scheduled for that type

C. Family Account Information

  • Family balance including account aging
  • Payment agreement information (if applicable)
  • Account billing type
  • Last Payment Date
  • Last Insurance Payment Date
  • Last Billing Statement Date
  • Ability to go right to the Ledger from this screen

D. Patient Demographic Information

  • Patient birth date, address, e-mail addresses, phone numbers
  • Ability to quickly add an Office Journal entry from this screen
You have the option to view all this information for each patient in the family simply by selecting that patient at the top of the window.

Here are some examples of questions patients may ask that you can quickly answer just by using the More Information window:

"When was my last appointment and what was it for?"

"When am I due for a cleaning?"

When are my spouse and children due for their cleanings?"

"What address do you have on file for me?"

"What is my balance?"

"When is my next payment due?"

Because I’m able to answer all these questions and access all this type of information from just one window, I find it to be my go-to tool to quickly access the information I’m looking for. Try using the More Information icon instead of accessing the information from other areas in Dentrix and see how much time you can save! 

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 1, 2019

Participating in a Dental Savings Plan

With the joint venture of Henry Schein One, Henry Schein has partnered with other companies to help your office in provide your patients the best possible experience. One of those companies is DentalPlans.com.

DentalPlans.com provides patients a way to purchase a dental savings plan. There is an increasing need for these types of plans, especially for patients who do not have dental insurance provided by their employer, are self-employed, or are retired.



DentalPlans.com offers 30 savings plans with over 20 well-known network partners, and some plans also have additional benefits like vision and prescription savings.

These savings plans are a good choice for patients because unlike traditional insurance, there are no plan maximums and no restrictions for age or frequency. After paying a yearly fee, patients receive discounted fees for procedures, which can help them afford the dental treatment they need.


Participating with DentalPlans.com dental savings plans are a good choice for your office too. By making dental treatment affordable, you can help to increase case acceptance. You can create a fee schedule in Dentrix for the savings plan, and when you print a treatment case, you can select Compare to Fee Schedule to show the patient the difference between your office fee and the discounted fee they will receive.






I’ve found this to be a good tool when presenting a treatment plan to increase case acceptance.


When you partner with DentalPlans.com, your office will also receive free marketing. Your office will be listed on their website’s search results when potential patients search by dentist name or practice location, which can help generate new patients. Also, by partnering with DentalPlans.com, your office will move to the top of their provider list, increasing your exposure.


Another benefit of your office accepting dental savings plans is that there are no insurance claim forms to file, which saves you time. And because patients on a savings plan pay at the time of service, that will help your accounts receivable and reduce timely and costly collection processes.


One final reason to think about partnering with DentalPlans.com versus offering an in-office discount plan, is that your staff doesn’t have to keep up with patient payments for these for plans.

I encourage you to visit DentalPlans.com and consider implementing these dental savings plans for your patients.

Please 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, April 24, 2019

Assigning User Password Rights in Dentrix


Setting up and using Dentrix passwords properly in your office is very important. And one of my favorite features dealing with passwords, is the ability to assign password rights to different team members based on their job classification. 

First, set up a password administrator (usually the owner doctor and/or an office manager), that has rights to access Practice Password Setup in Dentrix. This allows the administrator to assign the tasks in Dentrix each role in the practice has access to.

Once you’ve assigned a password administrator, I recommend that you determine the tasks in Dentrix each role in your practice should be allowed to perform. For example, dental assistants should have password rights to do perform tasks like adding treatment plans and clinical notes.

In the Office Manager > Maintenance > Practice Setup > User Password Setup, assign password user rights first for one assistant, and then copy those rights to the other assistants in the practice. 



Then determine which tasks a hygienist can perform. Setup the password user rights for the first hygienist, then copy those rights to the others. Repeat this same process for your front desk staff. The office manager should usually have more access to the software, for example with the ability to run reports and post adjustments, but this should be based on what the owner doctor is comfortable with.

You can use this Overview of Password User Rights to help you determine which tasks members of your team should (or should not) be assigned.

One of the reasons I think it is important to assign password rights by job classification is because it reduces errors. For example, you may not want to give a hygienist the ability to do an insurance write-off because she may not have the insurance knowledge necessary to do that accurately. Similarly, you may not want someone at the front desk to generate a prescription because she does not have as much knowledge about the patient’s health history. 

Another reason to use passwords is protect your practice. Unfortunately, embezzlement does happen in dental offices. It can happen by employees manipulating patient payments and accounts or by manipulating their clock in and out times to appear they worked more hours than they did. Limiting the employees that can perform these types of tasks can reduce the risk to your practice. 

Dentrix passwords are great if your office uses them properly. Here are three of things to remember about using passwords effectively:

  1. Don't allow employees to share a computer logged in under the same user ID.
  2. If you got to lunch or leave for the day, be sure your computer is logged out of Dentrix.
  3. Don't share your password login information with others.

If used properly, Dentrix passwords can help to protect patient information, reduce errors, and protect your practice by limiting the number of staff given permission to perform certain tasks.

For additional information about passwords:
Please email 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, April 17, 2019

Properly Assigning and Using Insurance Fee Schedules in Dentrix

If your office participates and is in-network with insurance companies, here are some tips for how to assign and use fee schedules for those plans in Dentrix.

First, enter the fee schedules for the insurance companies your office participates with. This can be done in the Office Manager (Maintenance > Practice Setup > Fee Schedule Setup). When setting up a new fee schedule, I like to copy my office’s fee schedule first, and then change the fees for the codes the insurance company has provided me. The reason for doing it this way is that there are usually some procedure codes the insurance companies don’t provide a fee for on their fee schedule. By copying the office fee schedule first, I can ensure that all codes will have a fee attached.


When you enter a new insurance plan in Dentrix, attach the corresponding fee schedule. Once the fee schedule has been set up in the Office Manager, it will be available to attach to an insurance plan.

The benefit of attaching fee schedules to insurance plans is so you will charge the patient the contracted fee that corresponds with their insurance company. This helps to accurately estimate both patient and insurance portions of charges. 

However, it is also important that the insurance company sees your office fees. This is important for two reasons. Firstly, insurance companies determine their usual and customary fees by taking an average of the fees for offices in your zip code. Secondly, if you are billing the insurance company your full fee, you will be able to see on the EOB if they have increased the contracted amount. I have seen an EOB allowing $1 more for a prophy than what had been previously entered on the fee schedule. If your office does ten prophys a day, that is an additional $10 per day in production! 

You can have the best of both worlds with Dentrix. You can charge the contracted fee to the patient’s Ledger AND bill the full office fee to the insurance by using claim format DX2012F. You can choose the claim format to use within the insurance plan.


By properly assigning and using fee schedules and claim formats in Dentrix, you can more accurately bill and collect from the patient and ensure the highest possible reimbursement amounts from insurance companies.

For additional information, the article titled Simply PPO Insurance Estimation Using Fee Schedules in the Dentrix Magazine online archives.

If you have questions, please email 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, April 10, 2019

New Features in Dentrix G7.1 Health History Worth Shouting About

Last week I talked about the integration of CareCredit within the patent Ledger in Dentrix G7.1. This week let’s talk about another exciting new feature in G7.1, the improvements to the patient Health History module.

Dentrix has made vast improvements to the patient Health History over the past few releases. In older versions of Dentrix there was a limit of sixty-four medical alerts. In Dentrix G7, the limit of sixty-four was removed, and you now have the ability to separate medical conditions and allergies into their own categories. You can also inactivate medical conditions and allergies that no longer apply to the patient, keeping a record that the patient previously had a medical issue.

Now, Dentrix G7.1 has made the patient Health History even better with the following capabilities:



  1. Add and store an emergency contact, physician, and/or a preferred pharmacy contact information for each patient within Health History.
  2. View prescriptions given by your office without leaving the Health History module.
  3. View and print Questionnaires from within the Health History module.
  4. Record medications (as reported by the patient) that have been prescribed by other doctors.
  5. Health History pop-ups which can replace patent alerts for specific medical conditions, allergies and medications. You determine which areas of Dentrix you want to display the Health History pop-ups and which medical conditions, allergies and medications you want the pop-ups to display for. 
The two new features I’m most excited about are the last two in this list. #4 - Being able to document patient-reported medications is a great feature because in previous versions of Dentrix there was not a specific place to list patient reported medications. #5 - Health History pop-ups are a great feature to alert your team to patients with conditions that can cause contraindications with their dental work, such as requiring pre-medication or taking a blood thinner. Additionally, the pop-up feature can also be a big time-saver because it eliminates double data-entry when your staff is entering both patient alert notes and medical condition alerts.

With these improvements to the Health History module, you now can log a comprehensive health history for each patient. There is now one location where you can record medical conditions & allergies, document patient reported medications, access prescriptions you have given the patient, and store emergency contact, physician contact and preferred pharmacy information.

Using the new Health History module to its fullest extent can help your office eliminate the need to refer to a written health history because now you have a specific place in Dentrix for all this information. If you haven’t updated to the latest version of Dentrix, first be sure to check the hardware system requirements and make sure you have a current back up. Once you have updated, I think you will be extremely happy with the latest changes and how they can improve your office workflow. E-mail 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, April 3, 2019

CareCredit Integration with Dentrix G7.1

One of the exciting new features in Dentrix G7.1 is the integration of CareCredit within the patient Ledger. CareCredit provides financing that gives patients the ability to pay monthly for their dental treatment, making it more affordable, which in turn can help increase case acceptance. 

CareCredit offers 6, 12, 18, or 24-month promotional financing for purchases of $200 or more and your practice receives the funds in two business days.  In the past you had to process applications, payments, refunds, and lookup available account balances outside of Dentrix, using the CareCredit website. Now you can do all those things without ever leaving the Dentrix Ledger, which is a huge time saver.

Your first step would be to go to CareCredit.com and register. Once you have registered (or if you have registered previously) in Dentrix go to Office Manager > Maintenance > Practice Setup > Practice Resource Setup, and click Edit in the Practice Information group box.



Then click the CareCredit button, enter your Merchant ID Number in the field provided, and click OK.



Then, you’ll need to set up an adjustment type and set up a payment type in the Office Manager that you’ll use for CareCredit transactions. In the Dentrix Office Manager, go to Maintenance > Practice Setup > Definitions, and select Adjustment Types from the Definition Type drop-down list. Add a credit definition for CareCredit, for example: CareCredit Refund (+).  Then select Payment Types from the Definition Type drop-down list, and add a payment definition for Care Credit, for example: CareCredit Payment.

Once you have set up your CareCredit adjustment and payments types, in the Ledger, go to the File menu and select CareCredit Setup. Assign the payment type and adjustment type you created for CareCredit.



Now you’re ready to process applications, look up accounts, and process payments and refunds all from the Ledger!

To process an application, select a patient in the Ledger, then select the CareCredit icon.

The CareCredit website will open and you can transfer essential information automatically from Dentrix to CareCredit.

Once the application has been processed, select the CareCredit icon in the patient’s Ledger to lookup their account and available credit.

To process a CareCredit payment or refund, choose Enter Payment or Enter Adjustment in the selected patient’s Ledger. When you choose the CareCredit payment type or adjustment type that you previously assigned in the Ledger CareCredit Setup, the CareCredit website will appear. You can enter the information required to process the payment or refund and submit the transaction.

For additional information on how you can get started with this new CareCredit integration, visit www.dentrix.com/carecredit.

This is just one of the exciting new features in G7.1. Join me next week when I will talk about the improvements to the Patient Health History module which gives the ability to record a truly comprehensive Health History in each patient’s Family File. If you have any questions, please email 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, March 27, 2019

Billing Types--Are You Using Them?

Assigning billing types in Dentrix is a great way to categorize patient accounts. The benefit of assigning patient accounts to a billing type is because nearly every report you generate in Dentrix can be filtered by a patient’s billing type.



Here are five ideas of how you can assign billing types to patient accounts, and how they can be useful in your office:
  1. If your office does orthodontics, create a billing type for orthodontics. When you run an Aging Report, you can choose to exclude the orthodontics billing type from the report since those accounts typically take longer to be paid.
  2. Use the No Insurance billing type for patients with no insurance. You can run the Treatment Manager and specifically target patients assigned that billing type to offer them a discount or discuss your in-office discount plan to encourage them to proceed with their treatment plan.
  3. Use the Bad Debt and Bad Debt to Collections billing types for those accounts that have large, outstanding balances. When running your Continuing Care Report, you can exclude this billing type to avoid contacting those patients for recall appointments. 
  4. Use the No Statement and No Finance Charges billing types for employees or friends and family of the doctor. When generating billing statements, exclude these billing types. This avoids any embarrassment of accidentally sending these patients a statement.
  5. Assign the Payment Plan billing type for patients on payment agreements. You can run the Collections Manager and specifically target those billing types to stay on top of accounts that need to make consistent payment per their agreements. 
Billing types can be a great way to categorize patient accounts when running reports, because you can choose to include only the billing types you want to see based on the report you are running.

For additional information, look to these resources:
If you have questions about how you can use billing types in your practice, 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, March 20, 2019

Speed Up Your Note Writing Process

Writing clinical notes can be a time-consuming part of any doctor, assistant, or hygienist’s job. The note-writing process can go a lot faster if you use these two features in Dentrix: procedure notes and clinical note templates.

Procedure Notes

You can add procedure notes to individual procedure codes which can then be copied into the clinical note whenever that procedure code is set complete. This works best for procedures that don’t require different options or modifications and the standard note would apply to all patients. For example, taking a panoramic X-ray could utilize this type of note because that note will be written the same way for all patients who have that procedure completed.

In the Office Manager go to Maintenance > Practice Setup > Procedure Code Setup.  Select a procedure category and a procedure code and click Edit. In the Procedure Code Editor window, select Edit Note and add the text of the note in the Procedure Code Progress Note field. When finished, select the Copy to Clinical Note option and click OK.



Whenever that procedure is completed, the text of your note will be copied into the clinical note in the Patient Chart. Simply copying a procedure note to a clinical note when it is completed is a great option for procedure codes that don’t require any changes to the way the note is written.

Clinical Notes and Templates

However, if there are variances in the way the note should be written, for example in the case of a procedure when one patient may require more anesthetic than another, I would recommend using clinical notes and templates in the Patient Chart. Using clinical notes is the best way to make clear, concise notes regarding how a patient was treated. You can write clinical notes in two ways: free-form, where you enter all the text for the note manually, or by using clinical note templates, where you are prompted to enter information specific to the procedures you complete. You can create and customize clinical note templates in the Patient Chart.


Although it may take some time to set up the templates initially, I believe they are well worth it! And once clinical note templates are set up, they will be available on all workstations in your office.

Writing clinical notes is so important to properly document the patient’s Chart. Make the process of writing accurate notes easier for your team by using the options Dentrix provides. My preference is using clinical note templates because of the prompts they can provide. These prompts help to eliminate any information being forgotten.

If you have questions about this or any other 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, March 13, 2019

7 Tips for Hiring a New Team Member



The human resources aspect of the job can be a challenging part of being a dental office manager. Counseling or reprimanding staff as well as interviewing and hiring can be both time consuming and stressful. Here are some tips to think about when it comes to hiring a new team member.

Be Specific in Your Want Ad
Let prospective employees know exactly what you are looking for. For example, your ad could say: Searching for a schedule coordinator for a busy general private practice. Must have at least two years of dental office experience, and experience using Dentrix software is preferred.

Set your expectations for potential team members from the beginning. This will avoid you having to interview unqualified applicants which would be a waste of your time and theirs.

Get the Word Out
I’ve found great employees by placing an ad online for free. Most cities have a Facebook page for dental offices which can be a great place for you to post the job, and for potential employees to see the job listing.

Also, talk to your local reps. My Henry Schein Field Sales Consultant is always a great source to let me know who is looking for a job in the area.

Contact Candidates
After receiving resumes and reviewing them, contact qualified candidates and set up an interview. Schedule interviews at a time that is convenient for you with limited distractions. Hiring a new team member is an important decision and you want to be able to give the interview your full attention.

Learn their Personality
When the candidate arrives and is filling out an application for employment, also consider giving them a personality test. I’ve found this to be a valuable resource. For example, I like for the Schedule Coordinator in my office to be an extrovert because they are typically good at greeting people and like to talk on the phone. The results of a personality test can also tell you how this person will best be managed.

Test their Dentrix Skills
Have your prospective applicants take a Dentrix Mastery Tracks test. That way you can determine how well a candidate knows Dentrix and know up front how much additional training they will need. There are courses and tests within Dentrix Mastery Tracks for each team member’s role in the office and you can test their skills and know where they need to improve.

Get the Team On Board
My best piece of advice when it comes to hiring a new employee is to involve the rest of your team.  We spend a lot of our time at work. You are often with your coworkers more than your own family! Once I have chosen a qualified candidate to fill the position, I take them out to lunch with my team. Let everyone get to know each other. In my experience this has helped to transition the new employee into the team.

Do a Working Interview
For some positions it is critical to do a working interview to be sure the candidate is the right fit. For example, it is imperative that an assistant work with the doctor to make sure they work well together. I prefer to do a working interview for all roles in the office to be sure that each candidate is the right fit for the office.

Try using these tips the next time you hire a new team member to be a part of your work family. If you have questions, 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.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Establishing an Effective Continuing Care Process


Having an effective way to contact recall patients is important. Automated text and e-mail reminders using Dentrix Patient Engage can make that task easier. However, there will still be a need for you to contact patients by phone to schedule their recall appointment. You can use the Dentrix Continuing Care List to find and contact patients who are due for recall, but who don’t yet have an appointment scheduled.

An effective way to use this list is to update the continuing care status for each patient you contact to indicate what action was taken last, and let your staff know what action should happen next.

Continuing care statuses assist you in tracking where patients are in the stages of your recall process. Not only can continuing care statuses help you to mark where you are in your list, but they can also tell you what action needs to be taken next. I recommend that you create the following continuing care statuses: Call 1; Call 2; Call 3; and Letter Sent.  (For information on how to create a continuing care status, click HERE.) These four statuses will help you know where in the contact process your patients are. Because Dentrix limits you to ten continuing care statuses, I recommend you add the four statuses I described and use the remaining six statuses for common situations you find in your office, for example, when you left message on voicemail.

After you have added these continuing care statuses, generate a Continuing Care List by selecting the Continuing Care icon in the Appointment Book.

Another thing you can do is to create Continuing Care Views that will generate lists of patients based on the date ranges that correspond with the statuses you created (Due this month, 30 past due, 60 days past due, 90 days past due).

Here’s how you can use the new statuses you created when working through your continuing care list. The first week of the month, call patients who are due for a prophy this month, and when you get a hold of them, change their continuing care status to Call 1.  This lets your team know this patient has received one phone call to schedule their Continuing Care but have not scheduled an appointment yet. The second week of the month contact patients who are thirty days past due and change their status to Call 2. This lets your team know that this patient has been called twice but have not scheduled an appointment, and your office will make one more phone call to attempt to schedule the patient for Continuing Care. On the third week of the month, contact those patients who are sixty days past due and change their status to Call 3. On the fourth week of the month send a letter to the patients who are ninety days past due, and change their status to Letter Sent.




When you use this combination of continuing care views to find patients who are due, and then update their statuses as you attempt to contact them, you will ensure that all patients are being contacted regularly (at least monthly). By implementing the continuing care statuses as described above, anyone in your office can look at the Continuing Care List and know what the next step should be for that patient (after you’ve taken the time to explain the process to them). 

When contacting patients using the Continuing Care List, it’s important that you not only update their continuing care status, but also to document the phone call in the patient’s Office Journal which is accessible from the Continuing Care list.

One final suggestion I would give you is to designate a staff member to be responsible for Continuing Care. The Schedule Coordinator in the office is often a good choice. He or she should contact patients using the Continuing Care lists every week. Staying on top of the recall system is an important job to ensure patients are being seen on regular intervals. This will help to keep your hygiene schedule full, as well as give your doctor an opportunity to diagnose potential treatment plans. It’s a good idea to have one team member responsible for this. That way you can hold that team member accountable. It also eliminates too many team members being involved in this task. If too many employees have their hand in Continuing Care, it can create an opportunity for mistakes as different people have different ways of doing things. 

Contacting patients who are due for Continuing Care on a consistent basis is a good way to keep your hygienist’s schedule full, and to let your patients know you care about their oral health. 

If you have questions on how to effectively contact patients using Continuing Care, 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, February 27, 2019

Four Key Areas in Dentrix You Should Be Using to Document Your Interactions with Patients

In today’s world protecting your practice from potential risk is very important. One way to protect your practice is to document, document, document! I live by the saying that if you didn’t document it, it didn’t happen. There are several places within Dentrix where you can document your interactions with patients, therefore protecting your practice.


Clinical Notes

Having detailed clinical notes can make all the difference in the world in a court of law. I recommend you make detailed notes about each procedure you complete as well as any special instructions or comments from the doctor to the patient. An example of this would be if the doctor informs the patient during a crown preparation that the decay was deep and that if they experience any sensitivity, the tooth may require a root canal. You can use Dentrix Clinical Note Templates in the Patient Chart to make writing these notes quick and easy.

Consent Forms

Signed informed consent forms are another important part of documentation. I recommend you have patients sign consent forms for any invasive procedure, such as an extraction or a root canal. If you have specific questions about exactly which procedures require a consent form in your state, I recommend you contact your malpractice insurance company. They are usually willing to help minimize risk for their practices and can give you the information you need. You can set up customized consent forms in the Treatment Planner.

The Office Journal

One often overlooked area that I think is important to document is your correspondence with patients-- both the written and verbal communication. For example, if you have attempted to contact a patient several times to schedule a filling, document those phone calls in the Office Journal. If the patient comes in for an appointment a year later, and now their treatment-planned filling has progressed into more extensive treatment like a crown, you can provide documentation that shows that you made numerous attempts to contact the them to schedule an appointment.

Treatment Plan Case Status Notes

Whenever you use the Update Case Status option in the Treatment Planner to reject treatment cases patients are choosing not to proceed with, you can add a comment about why the status is being changed. When it comes to choosing a new status for the treatment case, I recommend rejecting treatment instead of simply deleting treatment from the Patient Chart. When you reject a case, Dentrix keeps a record of the treatment plan and provides a space where you can make a note to document why the case is being rejected by the patient.

Having proper documentation can help to protect your practice and eliminate misunderstandings with your patients. When you have procedures and conversations properly documented, it removes all ambiguity and avoids arguments. I recommend setting expectations for your team of what should be documented and where they should document it in the software. Use the areas I described above to help make documentation easier for your team.

For additional information about areas in Dentrix where you can add documentation, see the following Dentrix Tip Tuesday blog posts:

If you have questions about this topic, please contact 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, February 20, 2019

Managing Accounts Receivable

Managing your accounts receivable is a very important task. And while I talk a lot about production and ways you can increase your production totals, if you’re not collecting, it doesn’t matter how much you produce.

Your office should strive for a collection rate goal that is 97-99% of production. In order to achieve this goal, be sure to collect from patients at the time of service. This would be considered over-the-counter collections.

The other important factor in maintaining a healthy collection rate, is to consistently follow up on all outstanding accounts receivable. Dentrix has several reports to help you with this task. I recommend you dedicate time every week to review the reports below and follow up on outstanding accounts.

Insurance Aging Report

You can generate the Insurance Aging Report in Dentrix by going to Office Manager > Reports > Ledger > Insurance Aging Report. In the settings window, I recommend you view all patients, all insurance carriers, and all providers, and then select claims over 30 days past due. These are outstanding claims that may require action from your office. Select Print Status Notes to view previous notes you have made regarding the status of the claim.


Ideally, no claim should remain unpaid 60 days after the date of service. This means following up with insurance companies consistently. Generate the Insurance Aging Report on a weekly basis. If a claim has been outstanding for 30 days, contact the insurance company to find out why the claim hasn’t been paid. If you are using Insurance Manager, you can check the status of a claim online. If not, you can contact the insurance company directly. Once you have checked the status of the claim, make detailed notes in the status window within the claim. If the claim needs to be resent, check the box next to resent. Today’s date will automatically be entered in the date field, but you can change the date if necessary. This information will be displayed on the Insurance Aging Report for reference when you generate the report next week.

Aging Report

You can generate the Aging Report in Dentrix by going to Office Manager > Reports > Ledger > Aging Report. The Aging Report allows you to view the total accounts receivable for the office, due both from patients and from insurance. This report displays the guarantor name, total family balance, how much of the balance is estimated to be paid by insurance and the guarantor’s estimated portion of the account balance. It also displays the account aging by current balances, 30-60 days past due, 60-90 days past due and over 90 days past due. 

It is important to note that accounts are aged based on the Close Transactions settings in the Reports and Tasks Scheduler. If you aren’t current with performing this process, your accounts aging may not be accurate. 

Something else I find important to point out regarding the Aging Report is that any patient credit balances will be applied to the total accounts receivable. If you don’t want to view the Aging Report including credits, enter a minimum balance to print of $0.01.


Collections Manager

While the Aging Report has lots of great information, it’s not an interactive report you can use when contacting patients regarding an account balance. A better tool to use would be the Collections Manager. You can find the Collections Manager in the Office Manager > Analysis > Collections Manager.  

You have many options in the setup window based upon the guarantors you want to display. I recommend the following settings:


  1. Include all guarantors and all providers.
  2. Select the billing types you want to include. I exclude the Bad Debt to Collections and No Statement and No Finance Charges billing types because I’m not attempting to collect from those guarantors.
  3. Check the Skip Accounts with a Claim Pending box, and change the if the Patient Portion is Less Than amount to $20.00, because when you use the Collections Manager to collect accounts receivable from patient, you may not want to display accounts you’re expecting insurance to pay.
  4. Under Select # of Payments Missed, select 0 or more in order to view all patients.
  5. Set the Minimum Balance to $0.01.
  6. In the Minimum Days Past Due group box, select Over 30 days
When a patient’s account is over 30 days past due, it’s time for action from your office. You can also send a gentle reminder letter and follow up with a phone call. Document this correspondence in the Office Journal.
    When you generate a list of patients that match your settings, you can use the Collections Manager to contact patients and easily access the patient’s Family File, Ledger, Office Journal, Payment Agreement, and Guarantor Notes all from this screen.
      Consistently following up with insurance companies and patients regarding account balances can help you to maintain a higher collection rate. I recommend dedicating time every week to generate, review and follow up with insurance companies and patients from these reports and lists, ideally in a quiet place with limited distractions.
        Please e-mail me with any questions about these reports 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, February 13, 2019

        Advantages for Using Dentrix Pay in Your Office

        There are several reasons your office may need to keep a patient’s credit card information on file. If the patient has set up a payment plan in your office you may require a credit card payment so that you can run the card on the agreed payment date. If you see teenagers in the office, the parent may ask you to keep a credit card number on file, so when the teenager comes in without the parent, the balance can be paid.

        I’ve seen offices store credit card numbers in different ways. Some make a copy of the card and scan it into the Dentrix Document Center or file a paper copy in the chart. Some offices enter the credit card information into the Patient Notes in the Family File or into the Guarantor Notes in the Ledger.

        Storing credit card numbers in these ways opens your office to a host of problems. Storing credit card information in the areas I described are accessible to multiple people in the office, and the chance of a security breach is high. If there was a security breach, your office could face fines and penalties from the credit card companies and potential lawsuits from the affected patients. You, as the office, are responsible for keeping your patient’s information secure.

        Enter, Dentrix Pay! Dentrix Pay is a credit card processing system that seamlessly integrates with Dentrix. It allows you to take advantage of some exciting new features in Dentrix, one of them being the ability to save credit card numbers securely! Once saved, the office will only see the last four digits of the card number. The complete card information is stored in a secure vault at Worldpay, the credit card processor.


        Some other features of Dentrix Pay include:

        • Consent form for patients to sign, agreeing to allow you to run the card (an important document which can sometimes get overlooked).
        • Automatic posting of a payment when the card is run, eliminating data entry
        • The ability to run saved credit cards to apply to payment plans

        We have so many other risks to manage within the dental office, such as risks associated with patient care. Saving credit card numbers securely with Dentrix Pay can eliminate the risks of storing credit card information in a way that may leave your practice vulnerable.

        For more information, visit www.dentrix.com/pay.
        If you have any questions, please email 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.