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.

        Wednesday, February 6, 2019

        How Dentrix Questionnaires can Streamline Patient Paperwork

        Patient forms can be a challenge. Patients don’t like filling them out and it’s time consuming for your team to input the patient’s data and scan forms, not to mention the cost of paper and toner ink.

        However, it is crucial that your office has vital information about your patients. Many medical conditions can interfere with the way you provide dental treatment so it’s important to have a comprehensive medical history. It’s also important to have patient’s insurance information as well as a signed financial policy to avoid unpleasant financial surprises. Plus, you are required to have signed HIPAA forms, and there may be several other forms your office requires.

        As an office manager, you know how important it is to have the information from these forms and to have it correctly entered into your Dentrix system. But there is an easier way.

        Dentrix offers the Questionnaires module. In my experience, correctly using this module is a huge time saver! You have the ability to customize and create your own forms


        The information fields in the questionnaires you create correspond with the patient information you store in Dentrix. Once you create the forms you can have them available on your office website. Your patients can fill out their forms from the comfort of their home and submit them to your office.

        For a patient to be able to fill out and submit forms before they arrive in the office is very beneficial. This can help to eliminate surprises before the patient arrives, for example if the patient has a medical condition and has a need to pre-medicate. Having patients fill out the forms ahead of time can also help your schedule to run on time. All it takes is having one patient who is slow to fill out their forms while in the waiting room, to cause the whole schedule to run behind for the rest of the day!

        Another reason for having patients fill out forms prior to arriving in your office is that you will then have other valuable information, like their insurance information, which you will be able to verify before they come in for their appointment.

        When patients fill out their Questionnaires forms online, these forms sync with Dentrix, allowing data to be easily updated in the patient’s Family File


        This is a big time-saver for staff and eliminates the problems of trying to interpret patient handwriting, or duplicate data entry.

        I have found using online Questionnaires to be very efficient for the office. It eliminates surprises such as medical concerns or insurance issues before the patient arrives for their appointment. It eliminates the need for manual data entry and it makes filling out forms more convenient for the patient.

        For more information on how to incorporate this great feature in your office, visit eServices or call 833.471.7253.

        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.