Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Dentrix G7.2 Health History Features and Why They're Great

In recent Dentrix releases, we have seen many enhancements to the Health History module:

  • Dentrix G7 Health History gave us the ability to separate medical conditions and allergies and also removed the old limitation of 64 medical conditions. 
  • Dentrix G7.1 gave us the ability to enter an emergency contact name and phone number, a preferred pharmacy name and phone number, and a physician contact for patients. It also gave us a way to record patient reported medications (prescribed by another doctor). 

Dentrix G7.2 has made even more improvements to the patient Health History! With this new release, you can assign individual medical conditions, allergies, and medications as critical, and create a pop-up message to appear for specific conditions.

Assigning a medical condition as critical allows you to prioritize health history items based on what your doctor feels is important. Assigning a medical condition as critical results in the patient having a red cross within their Health History and on their appointment. If they have a medical condition, allergy or medication entered in their Health History and it is not assigned as critical, this will result in a yellow cross. And if nothing is entered into their Health History, the cross will be white and there won’t be a symbol on their appointment.

On the face of appointments, the red cross icon indicates a Health History item has been marked as critical. A yellow cross indicates there are items in the patient's Health History,but none are critical, and no cross icon indicates there are no Health History items for the patient.
These colored cross icons indicate the same information, no matter where in Dentrix they are seen (example from the Family File above, and on Dentrix toolbars below).

These color-coded cross symbols are a helpful feature. You can quickly look at the color of the cross in the Health History to determine if the condition will impact their visit in the dental office. If the patient has a red cross, it’s a critical concern and you need to investigate what their condition is and determine how it will pertain to their upcoming appointment. If the cross is yellow you will know although the patient does have something listed in their Health History, it’s not critical so there is no need for concern. If the cross is white, you know the patient has no entries in their Health History. This new feature could save the team in your office time by providing at-a-glance information.

The new pop-up feature is also very helpful. Prior to Health History pop-ups, offices commonly used Patient Alerts (flag notes) for medical/allergy alerts. In my opinion, the Patient Alerts are misused in many offices. The alerts are commonly marked to show up with a date range of “Always” and they are assigned to pop up in all areas of Dentrix. This can cause the alerts to become a nuisance. For the Patient Alerts to be most effective, set a date range and designate the appropriate areas for that alert to pop up. For example, if it is a note regarding billing or payment, have it pop up in the Ledger. When team members have to struggle through multiple pop ups, the Patient Alerts lose their value and they can be ignored. Team members may sometimes check the box “Do not show again today” which can cause the team member the note was intended for not to see it.

The new pop-up feature in the Health History eliminates the Patient Alert problem in relation to a patient’s medical issues. You can assign where the pop ups will be displayed (for example, Create New Appointment, Family File, Patient Chart, Prescriptions). This setting is workstation-specific which is helpful because clinical team members may want to view the pop-ups in certain areas, while the front desk team may prefer others.

I’m very excited about the changes that have been made to the Health History in the recent releases of Dentrix. Most offices have become chartless and this new Health History allows offices to have a comprehensive Health History for every patient right in their practice management software.

Prioritizing medical conditions, allergies, and patient medications can save you time by displaying a corresponding colored cross symbol in the patient’s health history, and new pop up notes can ensure all team members are notified of Health History concerns. If you have questions about the recent changes to the Dentrix Health History, 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, June 19, 2019

Using Appointment Statuses to Improve Intra-office Communication

Knowing where patients are in your office is important information for all team members to be aware of. For example, is the patient in the lobby updating paperwork or are they waiting to be taken back? Or are they seated in the operatory and ready for the doctor?

You can use the Appointment Status in the Dentrix Appointment Book to communicate this information to every team member. It’s important that you also have a procedure in place indicating who is responsible for changing the appointment status and when. When you change an Appointment Status in the Appointment Book, it will change the color on the left side of the appointment (based on how you’ve set things up).

Here’s how I recommend you use the Appointment Status to indicate where the patient is in your office. At the end of this post, I’ll explain how to customize your appointment statuses and colors.
  1. When the patient arrives, change the appointment status to “ARRV - Patient Arrived”. This should be done by the front desk staff when the patient walks in the door. This communicates to the entire team that the patient is in the office. While the patient has this appointment status, you can have them update patient forms, verify insurance information, and any other administrative tasks.

    Change the status of an appointment with the drop-down options in the Appointment Information dialog box, or right-click the appointment on the schedule, select Status and choose an option from the list.
  2. When the patient is ready to be taken back to an operatory, change the status to “Pt Ready”. Many offices choose for the ready status color to be green, which is associated with “go”.  This status should be changed by the front desk staff to indicate to the clinical staff that their patient is ready to be seated.
  3. Once the patient is seated in the operatory, the status should be updated to “Seated” or “In chair”. This will indicate which patients are currently seated in the operatory. I would recommend that the assistant or hygienist update that appointment status because the front office staff may not realize when the patient has been taken back to the operatory if they’re on the phone or busy with another patient.

    You can see at a glance the status of each appointment on your schedule. The colored bar on the left identifies which status is selected for the appointment.
  4. Once the procedures are completed, the assistant or hygienist can set the appointment complete in the Appointment Book, which will indicate that patient’s appointment is finished. When setting the appointment complete, they can check to make sure all the procedures on the appointment are posted correctly. 

To customize Appointment Statuses and the colors associated with them, open the Office Manager > Maintenance > Practice Setup > Definitions. Select Appointment Status under Definition Type. Customize the Definition Text, the abbreviated text, and the status color. Then select either Add or Change



When choosing status colors, I suggest you choose colors that are different than your provider colors in the Appointment Book. For example, if the doctor’s provider color is blue, and you also choose the same color blue for a status, that status will be difficult to see.

Using appointment statuses to indicate where the patient is in your office and their appointment process can help with communication within your practice. Assigning team members to change the statuses is very important, because if the statuses aren’t being changed at the appropriate time, the feature can’t work as designed. Please e-mail me with any questions about appointment statuses and inter-office communication 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, June 12, 2019

The Daily Huddle - Possible the Most Important Part of Your Day

A morning meeting or daily huddle can be one of the most important parts of your day. It’s the best time to communicate with the team about the upcoming day and can set your morning off on the right foot. I recommend that the morning meeting be done about 15-20 minutes before the first patient is scheduled to arrive. All team members should be present for this meeting.

Preparing for the Meeting

In order to prepare for the morning meeting, have each hygienist and assistant review her patients the day before, and be ready to present patient information during the meeting (more on this below).

Choose an area for your morning meeting that is out of patient earshot. If there isn’t a computer monitor in the area where your meeting will be held, you can make copies of the Appointment Book schedule for the team to refer to (from the Appointment Book go to File > Print Appointment Book View).

Additionally, you can print Patient Route Slips or Patient Visit Forms for each patient (from the Appointment Book go to File > Print Patient Route Slip or Print Patient Visit Form). The Patient Route Slip and Patient Visit Form have valuable information for the staff to refer to including account balance information and medical conditions.

During the Meeting

Have each of your hygienists quickly review their patients. Things to mention during the review can include:

  • Special events in the patient’s life such as births, deaths, and marriages
  • Referral information (For example, “This new patient was referred by her co-worker, Jane Doe”)
  • Any medical conditions for the team to be aware of such as a blood thinners or pre-medication requirements
  • Outstanding treatment, both restorative and periodontal


Next, have the assistants discuss the doctor’s patients.  Things to discuss would include the same items  mentioned above for hygiene patients, as well as:

  • The need for additional assistance to prepare a treatment room for a procedure
  • Clarification with the doctor on how to handle particular procedures to ensure they run smoothly
  • Plan for possible traffic flow problems, for example, if the doctor is double booked, which patient should be brought back first?

This type of preparation prevents scrambling and disorganized traffic flow.

After you have reviewed the day’s patients, have the doctor and assistants decide which times during the day would be the best place to schedule an emergency appointment. Try to choose two times, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Discussing this at the beginning of the day ensures that the emergency appointments are scheduled in the best place for the doctor without disrupting already scheduled patients’ appointments.

Once the clinical team has discussed the day’s patients, the financial coordinator should be given time to mention any patients for whom there might be financial or insurance concerns. For example, “Mrs. Jones no longer has dental insurance, so I would like to speak to her before she is seen for her appointment to find out if she has new insurance or if she will be paying out of pocket for today’s visit”.

Finally, discuss your production and collection goals for yesterday and today. What was yesterday’s ending production? What is scheduled for today? How is the scheduled production in relation to our monthly goals? An easy way to find this information is by using the Daily Huddle Report in the Dentrix Office Manager (from the Office Manager go to Analysis > Practice Advisor > Daily Huddle Report).

Here are a few of the benefits of taking the time to meet with your team each morning:

  • The entire team will be more organized by knowing the particulars of each patient’s case in advance
  • You can improve profitability by discussing financial and insurance issues prior to the patient’s appointment
  • You can achieve more accurate daily production goals because the team is well informed
  • More effective handling of emergencies because they are integrated into the schedule without disrupting the workflow of previously scheduled patients
  • An overall smoother running day, which creates a more pleasant working environment

If you don’t currently do a morning meeting in your office, I highly recommend trying it. The improved communication within the team can have amazing results! If you have questions about how to implement a morning meeting in your office, 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, June 5, 2019

Referral Analysis in Dentrix

Internal marketing can be a great way to market your practice and generate referrals from patients. And what better compliment is there than your patients telling their friends and family they should come to your office too! 

I’ve found that thanking patients for referrals can encourage them to refer more patients to your practice. Some offices thank patients by sending a letter or card, while other offices send patients a small token of appreciation like a gift card to a local restaurant or coffee shop. When thanking these patients, you may also want to consider how much production their referral generated for your practice. 

Dentrix has a great place to track these referrals and thank you gifts, in the Referral Analysis. 
Open the Office Manager and click Analysis > Patient Referrals. First, choose the referring patient by entering their name in the Select Patient dialog box. The Referral Analysis window will appear with the total number of referrals given by the selected patient. You can filter the listed referrals by referral date span or production date span. Based on your filters, the referred patients’ names will be listed along with the production total.



You can track any thank you gifts you give for referrals by clicking the New Gratuity button and entering the gift and its value (for example Starbucks Gift Card, Value: $5.00). When you give a gratuity to a patient, these entries can be automatically added to the referring patient’s Office Journal. 


To see a list of all gratuities given to the patient, including their total value, click the Gratuity Analysis button.


However, in order for the Referral Analysis to be functional, team members must enter referral sources into Dentrix. I recommend that this be done whenever you are scheduling a new patient appointment. Train your team to ask a new patient when they are scheduling, “How did you hear about our office?” or “Whom may we thank for referring you?” Enter the referral information when entering the new patient’s information in the Appointment Book. Getting into the habit of entering the information at that time will help to ensure you have a referral source entered for all new patients. 

Make thanking patients for their referrals a part of your monthly routine. I recommend running a report of all referral sources on a monthly basis. In the Office Manager, click  Reports > Management > Referred BY Patient for patient referrals,  and Reports > Management >  Referred by Doctor/Other for doctor and marketing referrals. Use these reports to thank your patients for their kind referrals. Thanking patients for their referrals can be a great internal marketing tool. 

For additional information, read Manage Your Patient Referral Information in the Dentrix Magazine online archive.

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.