Wednesday, January 30, 2019

5 Tips for Efficient Patient Checkout


The Patient check out process is just as important as any other part of their appointment. Here are my top 5 tips for a more efficient patient check out process.


Communicating with the Front Desk – Which Procedures Were Completed?

As the assistant or hygienist brings the patient up front, this is the perfect time to communicate to the administrative team which procedures were completed today. This is obviously very important to make sure the correct procedures are billed out. Whether the procedures are being set complete in the back or the front, it never hurts to have more than one set of eyes reviewing this information. 


Using Route Slips or Patient Visit Forms

In a chartless office, it can be helpful to use a patient route slip or Patient Visit Form for this communication process. The assistant or hygienist can write on the route slip or Patient Visit Form to indicate if any procedures changed from the original schedule. This can be especially helpful for the front desk team to refer to if they are on the phone or checking another patient in. Both the route slip and the Patient Visit Form are available from the Appointment Book. After selecting a patient, select File > Print Route Slip or File > Print Patient Visit Form. The Patient Visit Form can be customized based on the type of information you want to display. 


Creating a Sense of Urgency for Necessary Treatment

Patient check-out is also a great opportunity for the assistant or hygienist to reiterate important things that were said during the patient’s appointment. For example, the hygienist could say to the front desk “It’s very important that we schedule Mrs. Smith as soon as possible for the upper right crown”. Reiterating this information to the front desk can create more urgency with the patient to schedule the necessary treatment. Also, most people need to hear something more than once for them to retain it. The check-out process can be a good opportunity to repeat important information. 

Scheduling Future Continuing Care Appointments Today

Re-appoint your patients as much as possible. While they’re in your office, your patient’s oral health is fresh in their mind. It can be more difficult and take up more staff time to schedule their appointment once they have left the office. Take the time to schedule a patient's next cleaning while they are checking out.

Using Fast Check Out to Automate Tasks

If you’re not already using it, try using the Fast Check Out option in the Ledger. Fast Check Out automatically performs three tasks, just by clicking a single icon. First, it creates an insurance claim, then prompts you to collect payment from the patient, and then it prints a Walk Out Statement. The Fast Checkout options are customizable and work station specific. To customize these settings, open the Dentrix Ledger and select File > Fast Check Out Options Setup. After you’re made your selections, choose OK. Using Fast Check Out can save time and eliminate the chance of forgetting to perform one of these tasks. As an added bonus, when you provide the patient with a Walk Out statement, it displays their next scheduled appointments at the bottom of the page. 

A smooth and efficient check-out process is just as important as any other part of the patient’s appointment. Try using these tips to streamline your office’s check-out routine.

If you have any questions, 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, January 16, 2019

How Dentrix Can Help with Your 2019 Marketing



I was recently reading an article in Dental Economics about dental marketing for 2019. The article referenced what’s hot and what’s not, in dental marketing. It seems some advertising techniques are losing ground such as billboards, Yelp and Yellow Pages, while others are becoming more popular.

Here are some of marketing techniques forecasted to be more popular in 2019 and my interpretation on how Dentrix can work with them:

Email Marketing

You can use e-mail marketing to remind patients of their appointments or remind them that they are due for an appointment. You can use Patient Engage through eServices to automate these reminders to be sent.


Social Media


With the exciting announcement of the Henry Schein One joint venture, there are even more options to manage your online presence using Web and Online Marketing tools powered by Officite. You can bundle all the great eServices you already use, like eClaims and Quickbill, and combine them with these exciting new services.

Personalized Marketing

You can create personalized letters to patients right from your Dentrix software, in the Office Manager. Under Letters & Custom Lists, there are letter templates you can use for patients in your practice who experience birthdays, graduations, baby births, or marriages. You can create these letters for particular groups of patients to let them know you care.

Discount Plans

Many offices allow patients to purchase an in-house discount plan. This can be a good incentive to get patients in the door. Creating an in-house discount plan would consist of creating a discounted fee schedule and adding it to Dentrix. You can do that in the Office Manager > Maintenance > Practice Setup > Fee Schedule Setup. Then you would assign that discounted fee schedule to the patients who have purchased it, in their Family File. You may also want to create a Billing Type to assign to these patients so that you can track them more efficiently.

Whatever your marketing plans are for 2019, be sure to track your referral sources. Tracking referral sources allow you to evaluate the success of the marketing plan and the return on your investment. I suggest asking each new patient how they heard about the office on the initial new patient phone call. This information can be entered into Dentrix along with the new patient information (name, address, phone number etc.). Then, run monthly reports to evaluate which referral sources provided the most new patient referrals and the production generated from those patients. (Office Manager > Reports > Management > Referred BY Doctor/Other).

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, January 9, 2019

Updating Treatment Plan Fees at the Beginning of a New Year

In November, I wrote a blog post about updating fee schedules at the end of the year. Updating office fees as well as insurance fee schedules is important so your office receives the highest fee for procedures, which will result in higher production.

Once you have updated your fee schedules in Dentrix, what happens to the patients who already had outstanding treatment plans? This question has come up recently in some of the offices I work with.

For patients who have outstanding treatment-planned procedures, those fees will need to be updated. You can update treatment fees on a patient-by-patient basis, or for all patients at once.

I would recommend that you update fees for outstanding treatment plans for all patients on an annual basis. The reason behind doing it annually is that you may have patients who with treatment plans that were created years ago. Those fees are outdated and need to be updated. Updating outstanding treatment fees can be done on an annual basis after you have updated your fee schedules in Dentrix.

Since some databases can be quite large, here’s some tips for you to update fees for all patients:
  1. Update your fees on the server computer, not a workstation.
  2. Perform this process outside of practice hours, when you're not seeing patients, so no other computers are logged in to Dentrix.
  3. Be patient. Depending on the size of your database, it may take some time.

How To

Open the Treatment Planner and from the Edit menu, select Update Treatment Fees. Choose the option to Update Treatment Plan Fees For: All Patients.



You will notice in this window you can choose to update fees for one particular procedure code or a procedure code range. This could be beneficial if your office updates the fee for one procedure during the year. However, for my example, I would recommend leaving the procedure code range as <ALL> to <ALL>.  Then click Update to update the fees according to your current fee schedule.

Keeping fee schedules current and accurate, and updating fees for outstanding treatment plans annually, can help your office to charge the most accurate fees, therefore increasing production. If you have questions about this topic, please email me at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com. Happy 2019!

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, January 2, 2019

Dealing with Broken Appointments Appropriately for Accurate Reporting

Over the past few weeks we’ve been discussing the Dentrix Practice Advisor Report and all the valuable information you can learn from it. Some of the statistics included in this report are regarding broken appointments. The Practice Advisor gives you the number of broken appointments not re-appointed, scheduled hours for broken appointments, and revenue lost for broken appointments.

First, it’s important to understand what constitutes a broken appointment. A broken appointment is a “negative” cancellation. This would be patients that no-show or cancel their appointment with little or no notice. I would recommend that any patient that does not give your office 24 hours’ notice should be considered a broken appointment. In those situations, when the patient calls to cancel or when they don’t show up at all, select the appointment on the schedule and then click the Break Appointment icon to break the appointment. The appointment moves to the Unscheduled List.

Now a common problem I see is that when it comes time to reschedule that broken appointment, offices aren’t looking at the Unscheduled List. They schedule the patient a whole new appointment. There are a couple of problems with doing this:
  • Your Unscheduled Lists will not be accurate. There are unscheduled appointments on the list and new appointments for those same procedures on the schedule.
  • The appointment is not counted as re-appointed in the Practice Advisor report. 
It’s important for everyone on your scheduling team to reschedule broken appointments from the Unscheduled List. When you schedule an appointment for a patient that has a broken appointment, Dentrix will display a message that says,


Always say yes when you see this message! When you click Yes, the Family Appointment List will appear. In the Appointment section, select the unscheduled appointment, and then click View Appointment.


An Appointment Information dialog box will open showing the appointment that was placed on the Unscheduled List.


It will contain the appointment reason and any notes or information that was entered for the original appointment. From here you can move the appointment to the Pinboard, and then find an opening in the schedule for it. Rescheduling broken appointments in this way will result in the Practice Advisor counting this as re-appointed.

If you review your Practice Advisor Report and find you have a high number of broken appointment hours and lost revenue, consider some the following:
  • Are patients no-showing for appointments? Do you have an effective confirmation system?
  • Did the patient have unaddressed concerns regarding the appointment?  The three main reasons patients don’t proceed with dental treatment are money, time, and fear. Did the office address these concerns?
  • Is this patient a habitual canceler? If so, it may be a good idea to ask the patient for a deposit to reserve time for them on your schedule. 
  • Do you charge patients a missed appointment fee to deter them from last minute cancellation?
  • Is the office team making it too easy for patients to cancel? The patients should be aware that they are inconveniencing the office by a last-minute cancellation. 
Having accurate broken appointment information available to you in the Practice Advisor Report can help you to evaluate if your office policies are effective in minimizing broken appointments.
If you haven’t had an opportunity to review the Practice Advisor Report in Dentrix, I strongly encourage you to do so. It is such a great report, with tons of valuable information all in one place. Evaluate it with the doctor and your team on a monthly basis to see where your office can improve.

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.